The main source of inspiration for this project was the press article “Bombay sells its legendary slums”. The author drew my attention to the problem of slums in contemporary big cities. He vividly drew the contrast between gleaming steel-and-glass facades of modern office and apartment blocks and the neighbouring slums. In his article he presented the situation in the biggest slum of Asia – Dharavi. This district, which is over a hundred years old and it is located in the centre of Bombay, had been put up for sale by the city authorities. For 2.3 billion dollars the purchaser will acquire not only the grounds in an attractive location (it is only 10 minutes from the centre of the metropolis to the financial centre of the city and the famous Bollywood), but also almost a million people living there at present. According to the law the investor will have to provide each family with living quarters of 20.9 sq.m. with an independent water supply and a sewage facilities. However, the problem is that the law obliges the investor to provide housing only to the people registered in the slums. There are only 300 thousand such people while in fact the number of those working and living in Dharavi exceeds 1 million. Dharavi is a unique place. It is the only slum in the world which generates profits and provides work for its residents. There are between a few and a few dozen thousand small factories and craftsman’s workshops here, formally established or not. They supply the whole Bombay with the most necessary products. Yearly it produces goods worth 500 million dollars. The people who live here earn 300 rupees (6 euro) a month, but there are also such whose monthly salaries exceed 300 thousand rupees (over 6 thousand euro). In
his documentary “Slamming it”, Kevin McCloud, a British art historian and the designer of the well-known program about architecture “Grand Design”, is taken on a guided tour of Dharavi by a millionaire Shaikh Mobina who has lived and worked in Bombay slums since his birth. want changes, changes for the better, they expect the city authorities to help in building a water supply and sewage system, but they do not want to move from the slums to high-rise buildings with the classic flat arrangement which the city and the potential investor offer them. The substitute accommodation offered by the local authorities do not meet the needs of this unusual community. The majority will receive much smaller flats than their present houses in Dharavi. These flats will not allow them to run craftsman’s workshops and other businesses. The buildings proposed draw on western models of housing construction which utterly ignore the cultural roots and social needs of those people. In my opinion this is not a good idea. Thoughtless copying of western patterns is not always successful, even if the concept has been proposed by one of the most eminent architects of the 20th Chadigarh. Le Corbusier’s experiment, though very accurate in terms of urban planning, proved to be thoroughly unadapted to the living conditions of the community living there. He completely disregarded certain habits, the lifestyle, the need for individualism of those people. Within a few years white modern shapes have been painted by the people vivid colours and the fountains designed by Corbusier as elements enhancing axles are used as public laundries today. Trying to find a solution for the dwellers of Dharavi I had to adopt a totally different attitude of this society toward space and privacy. It was important to me to create a structure, a construction cheap to erect, in which those people could settle. Such
which will not make them feel uncomfortable, whose functions they will be able to shape People who live there are happy, they create a community. Obviously they
century. This is illustrated by the capital of the Indian state Panjabi – and modify freely. The families themselves are to decide on the number of rooms, how
they will be arranged and the materials used. They are to be architects as they will shape their space, draw its boundaries and adapt it to their needs, to their lives. New residence will not weaken strong interpersonal bonds in this community. Also it was important for me to preserve those places which centers of social life such as a laundry, a well, toilets, marketplaces, temples, or simply streets.Another problem was the uniquely attractive location of the city. On the one hand the thriving metropolis cannot afford to maintain a council housing district in the city centre. On the other hand, if the people move out, the city centre will be deprived of cheap workforce. The new location had to guarantee that they will be able to continue their business activities. Due to the fact that most of the craftsman’s shops is to a greater of lesser extent connected with recycling (employment for almost 300 thousand residents which generates profits of about 72 million dollars a year), I decided to locate the building I proposed near the dump Derona. It is from this dump, 7.5 km from Dharavi, that thousands of the residents bring to the slums about 6 thousand tons of garbage every day. Materials recycled in Dharavi include almost all the glass, aluminum, paper, plastic, paints, cans, cables, electric garbage or soap from nearby hotels. Dharavi segregates and recycles 80% of the plastic garbage in Bombay. By comparison, in Great Britain only about 20% of plastic garbage is allowed to be recycled.
The solid of the building.Dimensions of the building (outline in projection) are the outcome of the analysis of the buildings that surround the dump. The planning and development of the region is based on the 70 x 70m planning grid. The east part of Dharavi has a similar grid. So I decided for the dimensions of the building to be multiplications of the quarter 70 x 210 (one unit by three units) plus the streets surrounding those quarters, which gives in total 84×220.5. The height of the building corresponds to that of the highest block of houses in that area, that is 50 m. Next the solid of the building was divided with two corridors into two parts: the residential one to the south and a recycling part to the north. The corridors provide air circulation and thus protect the residential part from foul smell coming from the recycling part. The whole solid of the building was lifted in order to create an open ground floor. The last element is the addition of a double steel net elevation from the north, which prevents the garbage drifting from the dump. The designed facility is a structure without a designed function. The function of this building is to depend on the people who will decide to live there. The building is divided into 7 x 3.5 m units like the multi-storey car park. There are 5820 units that were marked off and their residents will independently decide on the materials to be used and arrange the functions themselves. There is a possibility to take over two-storey units. The only element of the building that was suggested by its function is the recycling part located in the part of the building facing the dump (separated from the residential part with a corridor). The ground floor is open not developed and serves mainly to supply garbage from the dump to the recycling part and export goods produced by the residents. The basement floor is technical; this is a place where biogas is produced from waste and excrements, which can become another lucrative source of income for the community. Communication takes place around the perimeter of the building, that is on the streets. They are 7 m wide due to the fact that in this society the streets fulfill not only
a transport function, but also they are a place of social meetings and trade. Between the residential units there are also streets which are 1.5 m wide. In my design I did not decide to use any modern technologies such as lifts, because this community has no habit of taking care of common good and if they broke down, they would not be repaired.
Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the Bug River The intention behind our design of a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the Bug River, near Niemirow, was to create a form that would perfectly harmonize with the surroundings –beautiful and wild nature of the Bug Valley. The bridge is not to dominate the natural space, only to complement it.
For hundreds of years people have been using fallen boughs to get on the other side of a river, therefore fallen trees have become the main inspiration for the design. Over the years, wild plants will penetrate on the structure made of drawn metal sheets so that it will gradually blend with its surroundings and become their natural part without disturbing their harmony. Thanks to its form, which resembles a bough, the elements of the bridge – its piers – develop in a natural way, just as other spaces which complement it – observation decks or a ramp leading to an island.
A steel structure of spans was proposed (box sections). The spans should be fully prefabricated and delivered to the construction site, e.g. by waterway. The bridge spans are set on piers of the steel box structure which again are set on reinforced concrete foundations in the river bed. The structure of the bridge has five points of support. The traffic surface of the bridge for pedestrians and cyclists is covered with wood, the colour of which matches the lining of the bridge.
The lighting of the bridge is placed between the outer and inner metal sheets and for the sake of energy efficiency, photo cells are used.
Project titled „Let’s talk about garbage” created by Hugon Kowalski and Marcin Szczelina for the main exhibition of the 15th International Venice Architecture Biennale
The 15th Venice Architecture Biennale will be dominated by socially committed architecture. Reporting from the front – which is the name of this edition of the event – will constitute a collection of records from the frontline, where architecture clashes with unfair socioeconomic conditions and fights the problems encountered in various parts of the world.
The exhibition proposed by Kowalski and Szczelina will face the global problem of waste overproduction. Our modern consumerist societies neglect the “afterlife” of their mass-produced items, packed-tight in successive layers of plastics. The stake of “Let’s talk about garbage” will be to attempt at presenting new, alternative strategies of coping with the flood of waste pouring down the streets of our cities. The creators of the exhibition will show us how architecture can stimulate the reduction of the amount of waste and how it can take part in the process of recycling.
Designing disposable or short-lived items, usually made of plastics that will decompose in landfills for hundreds or even thousands of years, contributes, in a longer perspective, to creating masses of carelessly generated waste. The creators of the exhibition will present the life cycles of some discarded items – their collection, sorting, processing and reuse. Such processes as recycling, upcycling (i.e. recycling which raises the value of the processed material) or product design in consideration of its future processing point to alternatives to the problem of waste overproduction.
Zygmunt Bauman wrote that “we dispose of refuse in the most radical and effective of all ways: not looking at it, making it feel invisible, hence we don’t have to think about it, making refuse unthinkable”. We discard everything to a black bag, pretending it is not our problem anymore. This idea is reflected in the black wall of the exhibition, which conceals the back, i.e. the further fate of waste – a rich world of apparently unknown data regarding waste and the lives of millions of people living from the recycling of what others throw away. The authors will also present an extensive palette of materials and products, proposing ecological and sustainable solutions for the construction industry. In reference to Kowalski’s diploma project, the authors will present residential solutions for the Indian Dharavi and its residents who live by what they earn from waste collection – solving their problem with the use of architecture is the primary purpose of the exhibition.
Participating in the main exhibition of the Biennale and working with its curator, Alejandro Aravena, this year’s winner of the Pritzker award (the architectural Nobel Prize) is a wonderful distinction. For the first time in history of the event, Poland will be represented at the main exhibition. The team headed by Hugon Kowalski and Marcin Szczelina will also compete for the main award of the festival – the Golden Lion.
The exhibition will be presented in the Arsenal (main Biennale exhibition) in Venice from May 28 to November 29, 2016. In 2017, “Let’s talk about garbage” will be presented in Katowice.