Project

A study of morphogenesis and the politics of form-making in informal settlements

Goal: The research adopts a multi-scalar approach that investigates the everyday logics, the particularities of the local context, and the structural processes that play out in the production of these settlements.

Date: 30 June 2016

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Project log

Ishita Chatterjee
added a research item
Sometimes we call them slums other times we call them an informal settlement. Are they the same? And most importantly, what are the lessons that we can learn from them? In these fieldwork notes from India, I explore these questions.
Ishita Chatterjee
added a research item
Informal settlements are generally referred to as 'unplanned' or 'spontaneous' settlements since the spatial organization and the urban design codes they follow are not easily discernible. In this paper, I argue that even though the settlement does not have a professional planner, it does not lack planning. To understand the socio-spatial and temporal dimensions, the research observes the morphological characteristics of the settlement by studying its formation process. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with different decision-makers of the settlement to understand the impact of their decisions on the form. Time-sequenced morphological maps were used to first trace the evolution of the street network, the built form and then investigate the socio-political and topographical factors that affect them. This paper analyses the conditions of the built environment and looks at the evidence of urban design decisions being made-the signs of plotting, the transformation of pedestrian tracks to vehicular streets, changes in the width of the streets and shifts in the area coverage during the growth of the settlement. The maps reveal that topography and access to the city is a key determinant of the form. The street network follows the existing pathways to negotiate the uneven terrain of an abandoned quarry landscape; and the buildings align themselves, first, to the streets that are closer to the city before spreading out and filling the gaps. The paper concludes by decoding the spatial patterns and the urban design codes that are implicated in this process. These informal codes are proscriptive in nature rather than prescriptive; hence the form does not have the high degree of uniformity that formal developments show. The settlement form results from a bottom-up organization based on interaction and negotiation between the different decision makers: state and non-state actors; their actions enabled and constrained within a socio-spatial context.
Ishita Chatterjee
added an update
Built form + street network evolution
 
Ishita Chatterjee
added a project goal
The research adopts a multi-scalar approach that investigates the everyday logics, the particularities of the local context, and the structural processes that play out in the production of these settlements.