We spent most of the last two weeks with contractor Amar Madhukar Nirjankar in a neighbourhood “in formation” in Bhandup in the north-eastern suburb of Mumbai. Utkarsh Nagar, like many of the so-called “slums” of Mumbai, was developed incrementally by local residents and contractors over the past 40 to 50 years, with no help whatsoever from the government or professional architects and engineers.
Yet the skills and hands-on experience of the local contractors we met there can easily outmatch the technical knowledge of the best-trained professionals. In peak construction periods of the year, Amar builds up to five houses a month and he has been doing this job for the past 20 years. With him, we studied the construction process of a typical house of about 200 sq ft. This house, which cost the owner Rs 2.5 lakhs (about US $5,600) is the most affordable house that he is working on at the moment. It was built in 25 days over the debris of the previous house.
To us, Utkarsh Nagar is a great example of mass scale affordable housing produced through the local market. It represents a viable alternative to the type of affordable housing that is being produced today by big developers under the SRA scheme (Slum Redevelopment Authority). We produced a quick video with an interview of Amar, who talks about his activity and the neighbourhood. He explains why he believes that the type of high-rise affordable housing that are currently coming up in Bhandup are failing the people who live there.
Based on the information we gathered from Amar, fellow URBZ members from Chile, Cole and Christian have produced CAD renderings of the whole house showing the construction process, along with the labour and material involved. These images do not represent any kind of proposal from us, this is simply the house as it was built by Amar.
THIS is affordable housing: Rs 2.5 lakh built in 25 days.
More images of Amar’s house and Bhandup here.