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This modular housing based in Belapur, New Mumbai, is designed by Ar. Charles Correa. This project, which was constructed in the 1980s, stands as a perfect example of affordable and high density housing, which is the need of the hour.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
Belapur incremental housing project - a proposal for mass affordable housing in
New Bombay (Navi Mumbai), which demonstrated how high densities could be
achieved with low-rise courtyard homes, built with simple materials at a human
Based on clusters of between
seven and 12 pairs of houses
arranged around communal
courtyards, the buildings did
not share party walls – allowing
each family to extend and
adapt their own house
550 families were planned for
in a 6-acre area limitation.
The project is generated by a hierarchy of spaces. The first is the private
courtyard of single dwelling used as a space for outdoor activities during
most of the year.
Subsequently, seven units are grouped to form a small courtyard town of
about 8m x 8m.
Three of these groups form a module of twenty-one homes that describes
the collective space of the next scale (approximately 12m x 12m).
3 X 1 X 7
1 X 7
Correa discussed housing and the
importance of people to be involved in
determining its design and use.
Additionally, he also emphasized
incremental housing as a centerpiece to
any solution that was proposed for a place
The footprint of each plan varies little in size
(from 45 sq. m to 70 sq. m), maintaining
equity (fairness) in the community
Scheme caters wide range from the lowest
budgets of Rs 20000, Middle income groups
Rs 30000-50000 and Upper income Rs
THE SIMPLEST UNIT TYPOLOGY B
MATERIALS AND CONSTRUCTION
TECHNOLOGY: external walls of brick; roof
structure covered with wooden shingles.
MATERIALS: brick, plaster of white color,
colorful wooden fixtures, outdoor paving
Individual houses rely on simple floor plans
and building methods, enabling local
masons and craftspeople to construct
The village was produced with the idea
that the residents were going to alter it in
many ways, making it truly their own,
therefore homes are freestanding, so
residents can add on to them as their
families grow; and differently priced plans
appeal to a wide variety of income levels.
THE CURRENT SCENARIO
Many of the original buildings are
demolished and now replaced with much
bigger concrete houses by the aspiring
Yet the courtyards and the hierarchy of
community spaces remains intact: it is a strong
piece of city-making that has lasted beyond
the individual dwellings.
Some of the original houses still standing, but
most of them look different. The trees had
grown up and shrouded the whole complex in
shade in growth. There was a range of housing
there. Upon an informal count, it was found
that roughly one third of the original homes
had been torn down and completely rebuilt.
On speaking to some of the residents, there were some drawbacks
that were brought to light –
One resident we talked to complained that no provisions were made for
the common spaces in the center of each cluster of houses. No one was in
charge of maintaining them. These spaces do not fall under any
jurisdiction; not private nor public.
Most of the houses have been remodeled or destroyed and rebuilt as
some inhabitants said they were impractical (”What was the architect
thinking when he put toilets outside the house?”). Some clusters of houses
became “model” mini-gated-communities while others became mini-slums.
The concrete houses arose as a result of the changing aspirations of the
residents. They no longer wanted a ‘village’ or a rural backdrop. Modern
materials and technologies have thus been employed to a great extent.
This housing project offers the quality
of life of a village with the
sophistication of a city.
Each cluster permits the emergence
of a local community feeling, while
integrating each house to the whole
settlement at different levels. The
hierarchy itself is very organic.
The complex allowed people to
modify their houses freely, whether
with a paintbrush or mortar -
something that is NEVER allowed in
the type of mass housing devastating
the urban and psychological
landscape of cities around the world.
"It is really worth a visit. Don’t go to see
Charles Correa’s architectural skills or you will
be disappointed. Go instead to see what a
genius urban designer can do when he thinks
RASIKA DONGARE PRANAY BHAVSAR
JAYANT GYANI RITHIKA RAVISHANKAR
AISHWARYA HATKAR RAMA SHIRWALKAR
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