Housing in India as social infrastructure

Housing in India as social infrastructure

Housing in India as social infrastructure,
Like most countries, India is facing a perpetual housing crisis, as the most populous country in the world.
As the urban population is expected to grow from 410 million in 2024 to 814 million by 2050, this becomes a pressing concern.
India’s built landscape brings further complexities in the form of a broad market-driven approach and the need for socially appropriate housing.
Looking to the future, how will India be able to meet the needs of its growing population to house the next million urban dwellers?
The complexities of housing in the context of urban development in India require attention from the government, private actors and the architecture and urban design community in India.
Housing in India as social infrastructure
The architect and founder of Chennai-based studio ArchitectureRED identifies three aspects of India’s housing crisis – accessibility, finance and citizenship.
The first is the crisis the world is witnessing, where citizens are unable to obtain good housing due to a lack of economic means.
Moreover, government projects in India often struggle to finance quality housing projects in cities.
Housing in India as social infrastructure

Citizenship crisis in India

The crisis of citizenship is a problem that is within the architect’s control, Kuriakose notes: “Today, citizens are more disconnected from their cities.
The role of the architect is to create a sense of belonging to transform a house into a home. It extends beyond designing individual homes – it includes designing cities and infrastructure
To promote citizenship by enabling people to put down roots in their local areas and actively contribute to their communities.
The housing crisis has a fundamental impact on the shape and growth of cities, and as housing costs within cities become more difficult to afford,
Indian cities are expanding mostly due to unplanned growth along the urban fringes, cut off from public amenities.
Although the country has been increasingly focusing on infrastructure development in the past two decades, efforts have not succeeded in addressing affordability issues.
In India, housing is mainly handled by the private sector, leading to a market-driven approach that reduces housing to mere units that neglect vital elements such as identity and community.
There is a growing trend and demand for gated residential communities, this is creating exclusivity, breaking down the communal nature of settlements which is central to the social environment in India.
Housing in India as social infrastructure

Housing in New York City

Taking New York City as an example, the ArchitectureRED founder explains how housing across the city will always be fragmented along economic lines.
However, there is an opportunity for social infrastructure, such as Central Park, to democratize access and citizenship.
Such infrastructure makes the role of public institutions and policy makers even more important to preserve the essence of the “city as leveller,” a task that the private sector cannot justify.
Social infrastructure is the backbone of sustainable Indian cities, contributing to the civic fabric and promoting inclusivity.
India has about 18% of the world’s population on 2.4% of the world’s land area, and this situation necessitates recognition of density as a permanent aspect of urban life.
In ancient buildings in India, density is often organized along the perimeter of the plot, with a central courtyard usually carved out as a social space in the middle.
With contemporary building systems, traditional approaches to architecture have become a challenge.
Veteran Indian architect Charles Correa called for “ideal density”, which is clearly evident in his design of the Kanchanjunga Apartments in Mumbai.
While Korea highlighted an ideal way to design for density, building vertically while incorporating horizontal flows of space within individual units and sufficient social spaces spread across the length.