Neighbourhoods with[out] Public Spaces

Informal neighbourhoods lack designated public spaces, yet they are one of the best examples of community interaction. These neighbourhoods tend to compensate for the lack of public spaces through an intersection of the public and private sphere. Household activities spill into the streets and therefore, streets become a part of the household or vice-versa.

“There is no neighbourhood that exists without public activity or that does not demand public spaces.”

The Janta Nagar area of Mumbai's Govandi slums ©Kunal_Purohit.jpg


Albeit the dense urban fabric, religious institutions within such neighbourhoods, occupy a prominent consolidated piece of land. Such institutes witness a heavy footfall and therefore, emerge as nodes of social interaction, commercial centres and eventually, transform into community spaces. As the transformation occurs over several decades, these community spaces tend to exclude minorities within the diverse population.



Mosque inside a slum in India ©Tawheed Manzoor


While limited land resources emerge as a prominent cause for the lack of sufficient public spaces for all, it is imperative to acknowledge the lack of a vision. With community participation as a tool, placemaking can be used to resolve this issue. A detailed observation of the existing public activities, and a lack thereof, is only the point of initiation towards an inclusive design approach.


Sophiya Islam


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