Housing for construction workers in Ahmedabad, India : is it possible to design sufficient housing for construction workers?

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Broatch, Hannah
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture
Unitec Institute of Technology
Austin, Michael
Kaza, Krystina
Francis, Kerry
Arya, Meghal
Andhare, Uday
Soni, Sachin
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Ahmadābād (India : District)
labour colonies
construction workers
Broatch, H. (2015). Housing for construction workers in Ahmedabad, India : is it possible to design sufficient housing for construction workers? A Research Project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture, Unitec Institute of Technology.
This research project aims to improve the onsite living conditions for construction workers in Ahmedabad, India. Due to rapid urbanisation, large-scale housing developments litter city margins throughout India, catering to a new middle class. The rate at which these developments are being built thrives off the abuse of unskilled labour. In a science-fiction scene, utopian worlds are being constructed by workers living in dystopic realities. Workers building these developments temporarily live on the construction sites in labour colonies. The exploited labourers are reliant on a financial opportunity, creating a dependent relationship for both them and the developments: a dependency resulting in a juxtaposition of luxury and squalor. The labour colonies belong to a Kinetic City; an incremental city in motion, characterised by recycling materials, constant modification and reinvention through the practise of Jugaad Urbanism. The labour colonies are innovative and productive, but highly susceptible to dysfunction, suffering from a lack of any basic infrastructure. True solutions go beyond the limits of architecture, but architecture can contribute substantially to improving the quality of life for the workers. The root of the problem lies in cultural, social and political acceptance of discrimination. The project proposes an immediate remedy attempting to improve quality of life; furthermore, it attempts to suggest an appropriate first move in an incremental process of change. The project harnesses the concept of Jugaad Urbanism and accepts that the labour colonies belong to the Kinetic City. Much of my research took place on site in India, where I documented the materials and spatial configurations used in construction workers’ labour colonies, and throughout the Kinetic City. Drawing on this research, I designed a network of open spaces and housing units that anticipates and makes room for the innovations of Jugaad Urbanism. I then tested this design in accordance with a set of basic guidelines that developed out of my research. The research project documents a struggle to employ architecture as a means of achieving a desired standard of dignity for the construction workers. The project accepts that a realistic way to achieve this is by employing local techniques and incremental improvements, rather than by imposing a one-off, technologically advanced solution. The result is a design that is simple in terms of its spatial configurations, materiality and structure, but complex in terms of the social, cultural and economic barriers it must negotiate.
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