How do we meet the need for appropriate, feasible and dignified housing for those living on the unplanned peripheries of our cities? This is the question Claire Barry attempted to answer in this year’s 8th Blom session. She presented an exploration of her thesis Housing Humanity, Building Locality which is situated in Nala Sopara, a growing peripheral suburb to north of Mumbai. The area is a spatial buffer, absorbing a stream of people moving to the city from rural areas, and people who have been forced out of the central city by economic pressure. This has placed huge strain on the existing housing infrastructure in the area.
The thesis was approached through a multilayered perspective; typological and ethnographic research, the design of individual units and buildings, the arrangements of those buildings into clusters and the introduction of those clusters into the urban fabric. The thesis was produced as part of her involvement in the Global Housing Studio at TU Delft in the Netherlands.
In their book ‘Commonalities’, Atelier Bow Wow introduce the concept of ‘typological genealogy’: That it is possible, through the investigation of typological development over time, to discover an ‘inherent intelligence’ in the way that we construct, inhabit and adapt our urban environments to suit us. Barry acted as an architect and ethnographer, investigating both the development of existing built typologies over time and ways residents have adapted the urban environment to suit their cultural, economic and personal needs.