Most of my early housing experiments were undertaken for industrial clients who shared the costs with the Government of India. The usere were salaried managers, technicians, apprentices, etc. These “townships” also needed peons’ and low – cost housing. In the 60’s it was optimistically hoped that these low – cost might be reused on much broader basis to combat urban poverty. By the late 70’s it became clear that India’s huge population growth, combined with a lack of economic development at the rural base, was leading to mass migrations to cities. Squatter settlements made of industrial waste, carboard or whatever was available, sprang up around most urban centres. Even the lowest cost housing designed by architects was beyond the financial reach of these people.
So I set up a team in the early 80’s to study squatter settlements and to try and understand how they worked. A number of documents were produced including "Low -Cost Housing", "Integrated Rural Development Plan for the village Charodi", "Centre for Community Welfare and Employment Training Bengre", " have a very distinct pattern and order of their own responding to territorial and economic needs. Shacks often double as living and working places, being protected from the street by a zone of transition. Roads remain sufficiently wide to ensure movement of small traffic to transport goods and there are even “public amenities” such as trees sprouting from low – walled planters. The space in front of the house may be used as a sleeping area on hot nights, and there is often a rear access alley.
The Indore site was off the Bombay – Agra road to the north of the town and was little over 80 hectares. A total of 6,500 plots was to be provided. The idea was to mix some middle income plots of about 475 m2 with those of the “Economically Weaker Section” (EWS), then to use te profits to raise capital towards the development of local trades. It was obvious that a livelihood must be guaranteed within the settlement itself for the majority, otherwise the project could not hope to work.