Project Name: Deciphering Play: Exploring Affordances in Social Housing
Student Name: Serah Yatin
Awards: Best Thesis in COA National Award for Excellence in Architectural Thesis 2021 | Second Position in IIA Brihan Mumbai Centre Design Dissertation (IIA BMC-DD) Awards 2021 | First Position in the Mango Architectural Thesis Award 2022 | Honorable mention in The Undergrad Thesis by Archdais | Honorable mention in the Thesis of the Year Award by Archmello
Excerpt: ‘Deciphering Play: Exploring Affordances in Social Housing’ is an architecture thesis by Serah Yatin from Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture that seeks to explore ‘play’ in the social housing context and promote healthy living through architectural features and relationships. The thesis aims to improve the quality of play in a project while minimising budget and spatial limitations by reinterpreting everyday spaces and objects in new ways, giving them new meanings.
Introduction: The term “play” is frequently used to describe the architectural design process. Play is defined as a purposeful action performed for its own sake, and its primary goal is the experiences it provides. Projects with relatively generous budgets and ample space clearly portray certain aspects of play. But when the limitations get more onerous, the projects usually turn more utilitarian, and “playful” design doesn’t get enough attention.
This design thesis focused on comparing and analysing the built and lived spaces of slum rehabilitation societies in Mumbai in order to approach the understanding of play. It came to the conclusion that families were given single shell units without taking into account the size of their family, which caused the families to use the small space in multiple ways. Crowded homes provide less opportunities to all members of the family. The densely packed colony buildings result in inadequate lighting and ventilation in residential units, a lack of social space in communities, and unhealthy living conditions overall.
The study then makes use of the understanding of play in the social housing architectural context of Rizvi Residency, Santacruz, exploring how architectural features and relationships can provide play in places where it is least valued.
The site was an expansion of Rizvi Developers’ proposal to construct 12 SRA buildings and 1 residential sale component in Santacruz, Mumbai, of which 7 buildings are currently in the proposal stage. Phase two of the proposal under the S.R. Scheme would be developed on the selected site, which has a plot area of 13629.63 sq. m, since phase one of the proposal has been completed. Based on this proposed scheme, a programme was created that included 530 residential units, social spaces with areas for women, learning, communal spaces, and entrepreneurs, as well as a market.
The goal of this architecture thesis was to not impose the designed elements and spaces on the users, but rather to respond to the context and raise awareness of the users, the purpose of spaces, and the surroundings. The aim of the study was to identify viable approaches that could enhance the quality of play in a project while adhering to standard budgetary constraints and spatial limitations. To improve its play value, it would reinterpret ordinary, everyday spaces and objects and perceive them in new, personal ways, giving one’s accustomed surroundings new meanings.
The concept of social housing has been redefined to emphasise user involvement and the voluntary selection of their residence, where units are built according to occupancy and users choose how much space they need. Social spaces, including areas for women, entrepreneurs, community gatherings, learning, and a market, were zoned according to the type of court.
In order to promote healthy living, these spaces are designed with natural daylight, frequent double-heighted areas, connecting terraces, and plenty of courts to provide light and ventilation to each unit. Additionally, spaces that integrate social living outside of individual homes are created to foster community interactions and holistic living.
To maximise daylighting for residential units, massing was done along the sun path axis. Multiple interactive courts that are partially shaded during the day are created by C-shaped wings. In order to maintain ventilation and daylighting, strategically placed units are removed from doubly loaded corridors. Throughout the project, these voids would continue to serve as social courts. To maintain human scale and create interactive terraces, the built form features a stepped profile.
Based on the characteristics of the courts next to them, social areas are zoned on the lower floors. To encourage residents to pursue their goals in a designated area, the entrepreneurship spaces offer work and meeting spaces. In addition to providing community spaces at various levels, interactive entrances and connecting terraces engage users. There is a community hall provided that opens into a private court for events and celebrations in the community.
With a public library, a kindergarten, spaces dedicated solely to women, and an amphitheatre, the community learning spaces give the locals a place to grow. The kindergarten and the library are connected by a semi-enclosed court. Interconnecting terraces create lively community spaces while providing a view of the amphitheatre.
Additional shop counters are set aside for displaced vendors and infrequent residential renters, while the market spaces are allocated for registered occupants. In addition to serving as a buffer area for customers, the interactive plinth in the middle of the market occasionally doubles as a flea market.
The three different sizes of the units (23.88 sq. m., 27.88 sq. m., and 31.88 sq. m.) were determined based on user occupancy when the census was being collected. Users would be able to select their preferred level of privacy and the amount of space they require, then peruse a movable furniture catalogue to select interior furnishings where quality has been given precedence over square footage.
Further options for expansion include an internal loft within the house, an external facade pod (available in multiple kinds), and an optional balcony. Precast terracotta jali partially covers the service balconies of the units. These service balconies can be used for storing items, holding plants, drying clothes, and holding air conditioners.
The three different types of user-modified units are arranged in an even distribution throughout the floor plan, with scheduled voids serving as a regular social buffer. Each core has a locker room and laundry facilities adjacent to it. The areas in front of the staircase serve as a haven for random encounters, each with its own personality. These four spaces alternate after four floors. Seven cores are present in the design.
Conclusion:The study makes use of the understanding of play in the social housing architectural context and promotes healthy living through architectural features and relationships. It sets an example for social living outside homes, fostering community interactions and holistic living, and addressing the issues faced by densely packed buildings.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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