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Mahrashtra- Chawls

When the formerly known Bombay got reclaimed, it became an administrative as well as a trade center for the Britishers and mills were established. Hence this paved way for mass migration in the city searching for employment causing a need to build an adequate house for all the migrant workers. These were the stepping stones of ‘Chawl system’.

The term chawls derives its name from the native term “chaal” which are considered to be analogous to viewing galleries.

The materials used were majorly RCC framed system with Timber floors and roof.
The use of RCC for the very first time shows how easy it was to build a house in a quicker and cheaper way. Major aim was to create mass mobile houses to accomodate the workers.

The chawls were first built to house the MALE migrant workers.After independence, the entire family migrated to evolve the nature of the chawls from a mobile barrack to a societal microcosm.

With this, in a city like Mumbai, the caste system was no longer the basis of hierarchy .

The type of chawl would also depend whether the mill worker is a white collar worker or a blue collar worker. This caused different classes of people residing in different parts of mumbai. The elites settled in the Malabar hill region. White collar middle class workers settled in Girgaum. Blue collar workers were shifted to the Northern side near Worli. While the informal sector made its way to the boundaries of the former Bombay (sion-sewri).

Since a chawl housed people belonging to the same class , people depended on each other for their needs.all age groups resided here.
Most of the residents of the chawls were Hindus, Jains or Sikhs to the most.
Muslims formed their separate community in KamathPura region.
Although the Hindu community would be culturally diverse, Marathi's, Guajarati's and south Indians formed the majority

The form is highly inspired by the predecessor of the chawls : ‘wadas of pune’.
The form shows how solid blocks enclose to form a cavity inside .
this solid block is carved to form verandahs as the semi open spaces while the cavity acts as a courtyard.

There are 2 types of chawls
Types of chawls on the basis of the volume/ form
Types of chawls based on ownership

In the elevation three types are seen. The baithi, bar and Courtyard chawls.
After a period of time with the shortage of land in the city, baithi chawl was no longer feasible.
Then the vertical stacking of the units was the only option giving us the bar and the courtyard chawl.

in terms of ownership the chawls may be government owned or a privately based chawl. The government chawls would mostly be bar chawls and conncted diectly to the road. The main motive was to house vendors in the open spaces to give them employment.
In the private chawl larger courtyards are seen.

1. Tarabaug Chawl , Girgaum being a U shaped chawl
2. Grant road chawl, Grant road. being a linear parallel chawl

each and every space is interconnected and no space occurs in isolation.

The dwelling unit or the ‘kholi’ is majorly subdivided into a living space and a cooking space.
There is no physical division as such between the two spaces.
the kitchen is planned to house a small mori besides it to wash utensils
These are a set of common toilets common to each floor. Each toilet had a water tank initially. the total supply of water by bmc mains would be for 1-1.5 hours a day.
By encompassing smaller tanks in mori in each kholi, efficient storage of water is made.
this activity of a community making provisons for essential needs, example water shows how the community acts as a whole to survive

The courtyard is an open space. The circulatory elements like the verandah(horizontal) and the staircase (vertical) are semi open spaces. The toilet blocks and the kholis are enclosed spaces . the verandah is an informal extension of the kholi. No one owns it. while the kholi is more of a semi public space with neighbours have visual as well as auditory porosity. the mori of each house is private.

The courtyard turns to a semiopen space in a festival. the centre for all interactions.
Elderly people generally utilize verandah to interact with their peers but sleep inside on bed at night.Young people might use kholi to work but would sleep on floor or in verandah at night. Women majorly use kitchen and verandah. Both kitchen and verandah act as spaces for them to grow economically

the intent was to house large number of people quickly and cheaply. Hence no consideration for the orientation of the building was given.
However, since the form is inspired by the WADA, which is indigenously climate responsive, the chawl system in some ways respond to the given climate and aids to the comfort of the people.

The Community has effectively adjusted and responded to the compact built form offered to them. The spaces are used in a flexible manner.
Firstly idea of Mori being incorporated in the kitchen with utensil racks above mori show the dual use of the space.
The storage unit in the veranda not just stores things but also acts as a bed in the night.
The railings of staircases is used to house the chappals.

The staircase mid landings are large enough to house the servants. these spaces can also accommodate any stranger in need or any servant.
Hence all the spaces have been optimally used and the people have evolved with this built form.

Since the spaces are so compact, at times privacy is completely lost. This aspect of individualism from the aspect of a community is lost.
Poor sanitation is the biggest issue why people have the tendency to move out.
The common toilets are poorly maintained and the number of the toilet cubicles doesnt always cater to the need
Also the chawls are affordable for tenants. A flat makes their budget go haywire. since majority of chawls operates on these tenants, the people refused to move.Currently only 20% of chawls have remained intact.










The konkani settlements are situated in the Western coastal plains of Maharashtra continuing till the foothills of the Sahyadri mountains.. The difference in terrains lead to varied settlement pattern within themselves.

Two settlement patterns linear settlements known as ‘ali’ and radial settlements known as ‘wadi’ are formed due to the varied terrain of this region. Linear settlements are observed in the coastal parts while the Radial settlements in the foothills of the mountain ranges.
Clusters were series of houses formed due to the expansion of the family.

Initially Murud was densely populated by Kunbi settlements .Over a period of time, Muslims and other communities settled over here which got engaged in agriculture and oil marketing. Later on Brahmin communities settled over here which considered Kunbis and Muslims as lower caste communities depending upon the economy and activity pattern and gave importance to education apart from agriculture and fishing. Eventually grouping of these settlements took place within the undulating fabric of Konkan region.

The settlement of three communities caused class conflict leading to the formation of clusters in the konkan coast. The fishermen settled near te coast while agriculture based communities settled near the fertile plains.

Along the foothills of the sahyadri are the houses with a square based plan
Radial arrangement
All the houses are arranged such that they share a same open space called a aangan which is used mostly during festivities.

Along the coastal plains are the houses with a linear plan. typically linear arrangements are followed in these type of settlements.
There is long road connecting all the houses in this settlement.
Although a linear pattern is followed due to terrain the houses of a community are connected through a single aangan where all the gatherings take place.

The plan is majorly divided into 3 parts - Aangan (Front yard), which is normally provided with a Tulsi vrundhavan, and area for drying the various agriculture products , Main house and the Paaras (back yard). The Angan is open area in front of the house.
Ooti is Semi-open space with low height seating covered with a permanent roof. It acts as a Transition space leading to an enclosed environment. Sometimes sides of the Ooti are covered by wooden jali walls.
Majghar is large open room situated at the center of a house, surrounded by small rooms like Pooja Ghar, kitchen, and private areas. This acts as a large area used to relax.

most important and busiest room with in-build shelves in walls and levels to facilitate women gatherings. Mangalore tiles roof for the kitchen are designed in a specific manner to regularize natural air circulation and to capture maximum daylight. A small storeroom is situated adjacent to the kitchen to store yearlong food
Mala is the storage space made on the Attic on the First floor.
Padvi- semi-open space covered by a permanent roof and connected with washrooms. This area generally has a specific area for Chulha (Firewood burning) which is mainly used for heating bath water during the day to day life.
Paras (Backyard) is a open to sky area at the rear of a house having entry through kitchen.

Angaan which is normally provided with a Tulsi vrundhavan, is the area for drying the various agriculture products.
The built form
Paaras or the back yard with cow shed, storage for fodder, water well, area for gobber storage, kitchen garden and coconut, mango, suparri plantation.

The building was divided into public,semipublic/semiprivate and private spaces, ensuring the required level of safety, security and privacy for the spaces.
The angan and the Padvi forms the public spaces where all the festivals are celebrated within the community. The Swayampak kholi forms the semi public space used by females of the community to cook and chat with each other.

During festivals a shed is made in the angaan forming a space for the community to celebrate the festival. Major Pujas also take place in the majghar.

During summer, Angan is covered with temporary roofing in the form of interwoven coconut leaves supported on bamboo posts which can be dismantled as per climatic needs. This protects the Padvi from direct heat penetration and acts as buffer or screen from sun radiations and allows the filtered cool air to pass through. During monsoon this shed is removed.

In the houses with the linear plan the house is basically divided into 5 major parts-Angan- Padvi- OttiMajghar- Kitchen- Mala ( rest everything is same)

The Konkan coast experiences a warm and humid climate
Various passive strategies are used to overcome the harsh weather. There is effecient use of local materials such as mud, laterite bricks and timber.

During rainy seasons, closely packed form facilitates direct connection within each other without exposure to the outer environment. Roads are formed due to the strategic placement of houses keeping them shaded. The clusters share angans with each other forming closely knit spaces which are connected to other clusters by a road. this formes a shading device to create shade during summers.

Slopped pitched roofs were appropriate for heavy rains as they drain off the rainwater easily. The use of timber was done to regulate humidity. The use of terracotta roof tiles allowed infiltration of air. Attic spaces helped regulate the temperature inside and at the same time, provide storage space too.
on the ground red oxide flooring was done to regulate temperature.

The konkan settlements were built keeping in mind the differnt caste settled in the coatal region. The form of the Konkan houses makes it easier to maintain social relations within the community. It gives the residents ease of communication and provides the feeling of togetherness.

Some of the major festivals celebrated here are Holi, Ganapati, and Diwali . Gauri & Ganapati is one of the major popular festival in Konkan. Ganapati festival which is also known as Ganesh Chaturthi in Konkan and Maharashtra

Neha Jayasanker
Ameya Thanawala ,Dhruvanshi Sanghavi Shivanjay Bhagat
Tarika Deshpande
Ishan Lathia