This research focuses on the urban design of new neighborhoods being developed under the Rajiv Awas Yohana program (RAY) of the Indian national government. Given the massive scale of the program – which seeks to replace slums throughout urban India with new houses, neighborhoods, and infrastructure – appropriate urban design protocols are critical to ensure that the new neighborhoods are fully integrated into the cities in which they are placed and appropriate to the communities they are being designed for.
The goal of the project is to development a series of design tools that allow for active community participation in the neighborhood design process. Rather than a design consultant simply presenting a finished plan and soliciting approval from future homeowners, these tools would frame design parameters in such a way that homeowners could make many of their own decisions about the design of their new neighborhoods. Such a process, if structured correctly, can lead to regionally specific and diverse urban settlement typologies appropriate to the people who will live in them, rather than the one-sized fits all designs currently proposed in many RAY projects.
The Hunnarshala Foundation (www.hunnar.org) in Bhuj, Gujarat, is one of the best community focused design practices in India. As a key facilitator of the Slum Free Bhuj initiative, they are already working on the best ways to incorporate community feedback into the neighborhood design process. Working closely with Hunnarshala in the development of the project allows for access to accurate project data and the communities that the Slum Free Bhuj initiative is seeking to serve, along with robust design criticism from talented and locally engaged architects and planners. Furthermore, Hunnarshala can ensure that the research is developed according to their own workflow needs, allowing for the tools to be used in the further design and planning phases of theSlum Free Bhuj initiative after this research effort is completed. The ultimate goal is to diffuse the tools developed in this project to other design practices involved in the RAY program throughout India.