Located in the metropolitan city of Mumbai in India, the informal settlement of Dharavi with its dense population and scarce resources highlights a condition commonly encountered due to rapid urbanisation in developing countries. The potential of Dharavi lies in its abundant cottage industries which shape the existing urban fabric through social clustering of dwellings. Their contribution to the economy of the city makes them integral to the city’s development however a lack of infrastructure provision results into an unhealthy, polluted living environment with high cases of waterborne diseases. The existing rehabilitation efforts of relocation into highrise apartments disregards their social organisation and income generating means, resulting into failure of the typology.
As informal settlements have rapid growth and fluctuating population needs, Dharavi seems an ideal environment for the development of a low-tech, fast assembly material system for urban growth deployment. Sensitive precedent approaches incorporate incremental growth of a unit, however there is no consideration of the timescale of land occupation and flexibility of clustering demanded by a variable user group which is very important in the context of high density informal settlements.
The focus of the research is developing a strategy for urban growth moderation driven by socio-cultural context and environmental comfort. The interventions both at the material scale and urban scale are non-prescriptive such that they are adaptive to different aggregation scenarios and enable a permanency and consolidation of the fabric with time.