Homes, Models and Materials

Homes, Models and Materials

Artisans collaborate with contractors, residents and the urbz team, to create models in wood, clay, steel, acrylic and brass to produce model homes in Sangam Gully, Dharavi, Mumbai, as part of the Homegrown Street Project.

A House in Clay and Brass (House no. 7)

This film documents the process of the model for Ravindra Singh's family who have migrated from Uttar Pradesh. They remain in the village, intending to come to Mumbai for higher education and to live with their parents. As a result of growing family needs, the current structure of Gr+1 must be incrementally expanded to Gr+2.

While designing the programme, the contractor (Murugan) has solid considerations for the client because the family has been living in the village house for so long that they have adapted to the village house, so the new typology must have relevance to the village typology of the house, such as having a terrace and workspace, because the client is a vegetable vendor who needs ground space to accommodate the vegetable shop with an extensive frontage to the street.

Murugan also took Vastu Shastra into account when designing the structure, particularly the entrance, bathrooms and grill design- which is in the shape of sun rays (Maharaja jalli), which he believes will benefit the family's well-being.

The current structure includes a small Mobile sim and repair shop in the front of the building. This shop has also been retained in the proposed design, but it has been strategically placed in one corner to provide optimal workspace and allow the staircase to take up the front space for user comfort. This shop also contributes to the family's rental income.

The toilet windows are purposefully placed on the side walls and not facing the main street to protect the privacy of the client's wife and daughter.

The terrace was added as an integral part of the structure to serve as a spillover space for the family if any guests from the village visit them. Because the client's wife also intends to start a papad business, the terrace serves as a drying area for her, which supports her income.

A House in Wood and Steel (House no. 3)

This film documents the process of the model for Afzar Ali's house who has been a resident of Dharavi for over half a century. The resident’s family has grown over the years hence this G+3 structure was designed of incremental nature to accommodate the growing family’s needs. 

In the initial years of that period, he used to live in a single storey tin house which he then transformed into a ground plus two-storey structure to accommodate his growing family – his wife, son and daughter – and business. He owned and operated a hair salon from the ground floor – let out for commercial purposes when the house was rebuilt – but has now retired. The space is now rented out to a garment retailer.

Both the top floors are residential. The first floor is with an added mezzanine which he shares with his wife. It has four windows to maximise light. Afzar’s children live on the second floor. The house, however, does not have any toilets.

Afzar’s vision for his house is inspired by the evolution that his neighbourhood has been through and he is of the opinion that the entire lane should be renovated or rebuilt. He wishes to add another floor to his house for when his son is married and the family grows. He also wants to add a toilet in the house.

The balcony extension acts like a buffer space on the upper floors to allow extra circulation space, and jalli cladded along the balconies acts as skin, allowing optimum light and ventilation into the adjacent rooms.

The existing staircase was extremely steep and difficult to climb, hence the proposed staircase is innovatively designed to allow enough tread space to step comfortably. Additionally, smaller mid-landing areas were planned to make climbing easier.

A House in Wood and Leather (House no. 16)

This house has a narrow footprint making it a challenge to partition such a tight area into habitable rooms. Therefore, the owner felt that the entire structure would be used exclusively for commercial and industrial purposes. Due to the compact footprint, no partition walls separate floor plans. Most commercial and industrial usages adhere to the same spatial logic. The enclosing walls are utilized to construct shelves and serve as storage for shops and factories. Therefore, the entire structure is separated into floors, with the ground floor housing a garment store, the first-floor housing the owner's workshop with a private staircase at the back, and the remaining two storeys housing garment workshops.

The owner owes some debts. The structure was designed to assist the owner in hosting various commercial and small-scale industrial activities that would enable him to repay the debt. Providing a staircase in this unit was incredibly challenging, and the existing staircase of the house was not suitable for the elderly to climb; Therefore, the contractor reconfigured the staircase intelligently within the limited space, which also serves as an architectural feature on the front facade.The structure was planned with a terrace above the third floor that the workers would use as a sleeping and cooking area and also to dry products. During the summer, the space becomes intolerably hot. Hence the jaali was installed on the front façade to provide optimal lighting and ventilation. It also adds character to the structure

A House in Acrylic and Steel (House no. 9)

This residence is owned by two Versi brothers, who were born and raised in the neighbourhood. They have relocated to Sion and maintain ties with their village in Gujarat. The structure comprises two grocery stores owned by the brothers. One sells grains and the other oil. The position of the structure is advantageous. It has a front lane that opens to the Sangam gully and a by-lane on the left. The new design accounts for both shops on the ground floor but provides additional storage space on the first floor. Specific slab cutouts on the first floor allow goods to be moved between floors, and the adjacent lanes facilitate efficient loading and unloading. 


The first floor will also serve as the residential quarters for the employees. Therefore, it is divided into two sections: storage and living quarters for the workers, with toilets and showers. The family will occupy the top two floors of the house. The second floor consists of a living room and kitchen, while the third floor contains bedrooms and a tiny kitchenette. It is the only house in the Sangam gully with a spacious frontage and a by-lane. This allows the owner to move the staircase to the side façade, leaving the front facade primarily for balconies. Balconies become venues for interaction with the street. 

The contractor and owner aspire for this residence to resemble a "posh" bungalow. Since the entire structure is G+3, a modest terrace has been carved out of the fourth level. This location will serve as a multipurpose area for drying clothes and recreation. The sloping roof is part of the structural system. The contractor meticulously constructed the jaalis along the bylane.