Revisiting the low-cost housing designed by B.V. Doshi: Part- B
III. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DESIGN:
The Aaranya Township is a project designed as a services-oriented neighborhood divided into six sectors that convene on a central spine, the Central Business District. Doshi’s design included a hierarchy of open spaces that feature small courtyards to be shared by three to four families, larger green spaces for each sector, and a central playing field for the entire development. The clusters are interconnected to the central spine by open spaces and pedestrian pathways. Users have a variety of choices available to them, ranging from one-room shelters to more spacious houses. The focus is on family and neighborhood while promoting adaptation and personalization based on their needs and resources.
Figure 7: Modelling by Vastushilpa foundation. https://divisare.com/projects/381258-balkrishna-doshi-vsf-aranya-low-cost-housing
Several options were available for the lower-income groups, including a site and plinth, a service core, and one room, depending on their affordability. Owners had the freedom to use any material for construction and decoration, and local materials like brick, stone, and cement were commonly used. Bright colors in the facades, railings, grills, and cornices were used in some of the houses, which are reminiscent of the old houses in Indore. Stone paving is used in the interior streets and squares of the Economically Weaker Section, reducing their cost and maintenance. Peripheral roads are asphalt paving for heavy traffic.
Figure 8: https://divisare.com/projects/381258-balkrishna-doshi-vsf-aranya-low-cost-housing
The Aaranya design effectively considered Indore’s climate, creating a comfortable living environment. Most of the plots are small, and the houses are clustered in low-rise blocks. The longer side of the facade is oriented on the north-south axis to reduce solar radiation on the building, especially during summers. The two openings on the north and south allow for natural light and cross ventilation, and adjacent buildings sufficiently shade courtyards within houses, cul-de-sacs, public squares, and small activity areas.
IV. STREET LIFE AND ACTIVITIES:
The street layout in Aranya directs vehicular traffic towards the perimeter road while informal pathways and open spaces are reserved for pedestrian traffic, creating a clear separation between fast-moving and slow-moving traffic. The street layout is non-rectilinear, with varying widths and bends that can accommodate spontaneous human activities. Commercial outlets follow a hierarchy, with standard outlets along major roads and informal ones along narrow streets and open spaces.
Figure 9: Street sketch by B.V. Doshi. https://divisare.com/projects/381258-balkrishna-doshi-vsf-aranya-low-cost-housing
To initiate the development, only a small sample of 80 loadbearing brick model homes was built in 1989, with walls plastered and painted on a concrete plinth. The architect provided a set of ingredients for residents to use and improve upon, allowing for planned but informal growth within the hierarchy of built form and open spaces set by the masterplan. The focus on social activities and physical structures has resulted in specific architectural features such as shared landings, tiny balconies, and open terraces that encourage interaction and public life to seep into living spaces. Staircases are also designed to be more than just a means of going up and down but also as interaction spots.
Figure 10: https://divisare.com/projects/381258-balkrishna-doshi-vsf-aranya-low-cost-housing
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