The population of Delhi has rapidly increased. It is now the fifth most populous city in the world and the largest city in India by area. Sewage infrastructure has not kept pace: approximately 55 percent of the population in urban Delhi has access to a sewerage system. Not all effluent is treated, with a devastating effect on riverways and groundwater aquifers. The lack of sanitation is emerging as one of the most pervasive development and health challenges India faces, compounded by rapid urbanisation and peri-urbanisation. As such, Delhi, provides a suitable backdrop to examine the issue of sanitation based interventions to improve the urban fabric.
The objective of this research is to identify, design, and prototype interventions in the context of marginalised and peripheral communities. The project tackles design solutions cross-cutting the sanitation chain from toilet, to house, to co-designed community infrastructure, to micro treatment plants; and seeks to better understand the key actors in the design, procurement and construction of DIY sanitation investments.
The methodological framework for this design-based research is rooted in the pursuit of learning-by-doing in addition to more traditional field work observational outputs; adding to emergent forms of architectural/design practice, particularly in contested and marginalised spaces. Research outcomes will be small to medium-sized, topically linked building projects in addition to a final report and exhibition.
The project expands on King’s previous work which explored the possibility of developing infrastructure using techniques and procedures of the incremental housing economy, which was presented at the Urban Age Shaping Cities conference under the title of Infrastructure and Community. Culminating in the completion of community based sanitation system connecting individual (household) toilets to a shared septic tank and up-flow filter which forms a Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System (DEWAT) in a resettlement colony on the edge of Delhi.