Photo courtesy of ABC Australia
A recent program presented by Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs) looks at one of the largest slums in Mumbai, India. Some of the world’s leading architects and planners claim that Dharavi solves problems facing modern day cities, such as how to provide neighbourhood meeting places, a sense of community and low rise, high density compact neighbourhoods.
What planned cities may have gained in privacy, the provision of unpolluted residential environments and general amenity, we may have also lost in terms of providing a built environment where strong communities can form and people can access goods and services within easy walking distance of their homes.
The introduction of sanitation which stimulated the beginning of the town planning movement is still something lacking in many slum environments and contributes to a significant burden of disease in these communities. While much could be contributed in regards to the provision of updated sewerage, water and drainage systems, there is also much that we can learn from slums in terms of community building and the advantages of proximity to others,
Dharavi, India is being slated for wholesale demolition, with the chief architect presenting Le Corbusier style plans for development. Unfortunately what may be gained in terms of cleanliness and order may also result in the dismantling of existing communities and people-friendly environments.