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modern slum clearance?

edited October 2006 in architecture
Mumbai's Dharavi slum, Asia's largest, is to be redeveloped.
More than 500 acres of shanties and unremarkable buildings transformed into five organised, self-sustained sectors. Each sector will be the size of two Nariman Points, with plush housing, malls, multiplexes, pottery institutes, leather designing centres, a proposed cricket museum and stadium, gardens, parks and world class public transport...“Not only will slumdwellers be rehabilitated in the same sector their homes are in, but they won’t even have to go to a neighbouring sector for a morning jog,’'

Some of the locals aren't too happy. Only those living there since 1995 are to be 'rehabilitated', only 52,000 families.

A report in Time Asia questioned the $1.3B development earlier in the year:
Bombay can no longer afford to ignore the fact that its slum-dwelling population has soared to more than 10 million, in part because so many migrants have been flocking to the city. But there are no plans to relocate the thousands of successful businesses run out of Dharavi. Adding to the controversy, the proposal to move residents is based on the official number of families legally residing there—51,000—not the true figure, which includes hundreds of thousands of illegal squatters. To residents, the plan is an attempt to dump them outside the city once more. "Of course we want Dharavi to be developed," says Bhaukorde. "That's why we worked so hard all these years. The question is: Developed for whom? The government's idea of development doesn't include us. I've seen the plans. Wonderful. No room at all for ugly poor people."

Is a tabula rasa approach the right way to fix a slum. Meaghan Dwyer's talk at Words@Bldg50 last week outlined more sensitive methods being used in Rio de Janiero. For a start, in Rio they would be encouraging local business, not removing it.

Frontline magazine investigated the schem two years ago and concluded its article with this:
The government may keep building castles in the air, but Dharavi's residents have their feet firmly planted on terra firma. Like Selvaraj, they know better than to trust one more promise to transform their lives. They prefer to take things in their own hands and do it themselves. "Instead of giving land to builders, why doesn't the government give it to people instead? Then they can develop it the way they want to. And the profit can go to people rather than builders," said a resident.


  • edited January 1970
    There is also the example of Curitiba in Brazil. The government is improving the conditions in the slums, they are also encouraging people to start (or improve) their own local business-work opportunities and better living conditions go hand in hand.
    Although a different reality, I was thinking of "Group Self-Built", a program that the Ministry of Housing and Development (Victoria) run for a few years (perhaps still today). This program allowed people to partially build their own houses under the technical guidance of qualified architects, engineers and builders. This does not happen often, but when developers talk about "building communities" this is could be a good start—when development is not left entirely to businesses and opportunists.
    [Jaime] Lerner says, "The dream of a better city is always in the heads of its residents. Our city isn't a paradise. It has most of the problems of other cities. But when we provide good buses and schools and health clinics, everybody feels respected. The strategic vision ... leads us to put the first priorities on the child and the environment. For there is no deeper feeling of solidarity than that of dealing with the citizen of tomorrow, the child, and the environment in which that child is going to live." Source:,
  • NN
    edited January 1970

    Where can I find out more about "Group Self-Built". I've been slowly trying to work up the courage to talk to the Principal at work to ask if it'd be OK to send emails around the office about functions/activities which the people at my office could get involved in (I work in a multi-disciplinary office so I'm hoping to be able to get others on board too). We are allowed t o group email architecture/design related events so I was wondering if I could get the go ahead to as well?

  • edited January 1970
    Hi N,

    Sorry for my late response. Group self-built is now under the Department of Human Services and the website address is:

    Hope this helps.

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