ABCD — Adaptive Brick Community Dharavi

In Dharavi (Mumbai), one of the largest slums worldwide, live approximately up to 1 million people of different religions, age groups and professions on the narrowest space. 85% of the inhabitants are employed – most of them related to recycling. About 80% of the recycling in the metropole Mumbai take place in Dharavi, in parts under inhuman conditions. The shelters are build from the most diverse and partially acutely poisonous materials. There is unsufficient health care and no public water supply or sewage disposal.

Despite of the difficult environment there is an exemplary, self-organised communal coexistence in Dharavi. Out of necessity earmarked solutions emerge: Rooms are used in multiple ways, alleys and public places turn spontaneously into markets or praying rooms. Social life happens basically on the streets and therefore guarantees constant exchange.

Due to its central location Dharavi is a wanted object of speculation and gets sold gradually to investors by the city of Mumbai. Social structures that have grown over generations are broken down — the inhabitants get displaced to the periphery or to live in skyscrapers and therefore become isolated. This requires a concept that improves the local living conditions without violating the dynamic structures of the neighborhood and the self-determination of their inhabitants.

The annual increase of container trade in the port city Mumbai provide the base for an interim solution: Used 20’ shipping containers can be placed on a grid according to the needs and form a modular system. Foundations containing lines of supply and drainage connect separate sections. Spacious appartements, one-room flats, restaurants at a height of 20 meters or take-aways on street level, tunnels, stairways, bridges, terraces or gardens — the versatility of the container modules offers countless possibilities to arrange their neighborhood according to the lived structures. The constantly growing construct forces the surrounding skyscraper residents to deal with the reality of the slum. The different social classes are confronted on eye-level, an exchange becomes unavoidable.


[ August 2015 — Competition / Process / Space ]


20′ Grid

A grid based on the dimensions of a standard 20′ shipping container allows for a modular exchange: Hills, valleys, market places and residential areas can develop wherever they are needed. The grid is indispensable for a fast, systematic, horizontal and vertical construction and deconstruction and a modular water supply, respectively.


Expanding System

The area expands modularly in width and height according to the needs of the inhabitants. The adjacent areas can be expanded following the same principle. Existing constructs can be adopted or modified.


Multi-Level Community

Social centers can form at different levels. Stairs, tunnels, bridges and ramps outside and inside the construct facilitate the connection between the different areas.



The container modules expand upwards in immediate proximity to the nearby skyscrapers and can ultimately enclose them — this results in a growing juxtaposition and direct confrontation, as well as connection between the two social classes.