By Arif Hasan Asiya Sadiq Suneela Ahmed
(Revised Draft, 19 August 2009)
There is a growing trend in Asian cities to demolish low income informal settlements and relocate their residents in six to eight storey apartment blocks. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that i) low income groups (other than white-collar workers and some of the better-off among the poor) are unhappy with the high-rise solutions for sociological reasons; ii) the units are expensive to maintain and instalments for lease or ownership are more often than not unaffordable for the poor residents; iii) residents cannot carry out any informal businesses in the apartments (apart from activities such as giving tuitions or running beauty parlours); and iv) the residents become poorer and some of them destitute. As a result, the majority of them sell their “possession” informally (if they can) at throw away prices and move back as renters to informal settlements in the city centre. The city governments and their planners argue that high-rise apartment living is necessary for it provides higher densities, better social and environmental conditions and enhances the image of the city as a “world class” or “global” city.
Study was initiated to test the thesis that the same or considerably higher densities as prescribed by the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) bylaws can be achieved by building houses on small plots as opposed to apartments, without compromising on social and physical environment related concerns and to see if there are any social and economic benefits in providing plots or houses rather than apartments.
3. FINDINGS OF THE RESEARCH FOR THE DIFFERENT CASE STUDIES
3.1 Khuda-ki-Basti – 3 Khuda-ki-Basti is located 25 kilometres from the city centre. It is spread over 40.8 acres (16.51 hectares). It is planned keeping in view KBCA regulations for the planning of townships. 49.26 per cent of the site consists of residential plots of 80 square yards (67 square metres) each; 1.85 per cent of the site is allocated for commercial plots; 6.51 per cent is allocated for amenities (including schools); 7.24 per cent for open spaces and parks; and 35.14 per cent for streets and roads. The total number of plots is 1,237. The land was provided at subsidised rates to the NGO Saiban who had the settlement planned as a plot scheme and developed a process through which only poor families could purchase a plot and be forced to live on it immediately. Repayment for the plot is in affordable instalments spread over seven years.
The settlement is designed as neighbourhoods of 100 houses around a small open community space with a space for one primary school for two neighbourhoods. A central circulation and amenity spine containing parks and community buildings runs through the settlement. The maximum permissible density as per KBCA regulations for the township is 500 persons per acre (1,285 persons per hectare). This for KKB works out to about 15 persons per residential unit. Currently the average number of persons per plot is 6.7 and the density is 203 persons per acre (555 persons per hectare). According to the byelaws construction can only be for ground plus two floors. Important findings of the analysis of the physical and social survey are given below.
All the persons who were interviewed and/or answered questionnaires moved to KKB-3 because they wanted to own a home that they could build on incrementally and because KKB was affordable. The fact that it was far away from the city was not a consideration since transport was available. 13 per cent would have preferred a 48 square yards plot in the city centre and 16 per cent an apartment nearer to their place of work but both these options were unaffordable to them. 65 per cent respondents were renters before they came to KKB. Now only 5 per cent are renters.
58 per cent male and 72 per cent female respondents are between the ages of 20 and 40. They are aware that once their children are older, they will require homes. They see no other affordable alternative but to build additional floors for them (once they are married) on their present properties even if it violates the regulations.
30 per cent of the respondents have businesses in their homes and an additional 65 per cent are interested in using their premises for income generation activities. As a result, 17 per cent of the respondents work from home although 68 per cent are artisans or day-wage labour. Meanwhile, all plots developed for commercial purposes have not yet been occupied.
The open spaces provided by the planners are not utilised. Instead, the 24 feet (7.3 metres) wide roads, meant for vehicular traffic are used as community spaces. 85 per cent of the respondents feel that in the absence of traffic these spaces are more secure for children and more suitable for social interaction since the houses open out onto them. These spaces are used by children (even grown ups) for playing, for washing and drying of clothes, parking cycles and motorcycles and for social interaction (gossiping). Community gatherings (such as religious events and marriages) also take place on the streets. Even though the residential areas of Khuda-ki-Basti are fully inhabited, the street space is still not fully utilised and appears empty. A tripling of population would seem to be required for its proper utilisation. The larger planned open spaces meanwhile are un-kept (some of them have become garbage dumps) in spite of Saiban’s attempts to turn them into parks.
The average income at KKB is Rs 8,000 (US$ 100) per month. 4 per cent of this per month (Rs 350 or US$ 4.37) is spent on maintaining and expanding the house; 4 per cent is spent on children’s education (this is low as compared to other settlements because of cheap NGO operated schools in the neighbourhood); 18 per cent is spent on travelling which varies between one to four hours every day. The residents are willing to put up with this expense and with the long travel time because they wish to own a home and this is the only alternative. As a result, speculation on property in KKB is only 10 to 11 per cent although there is a major cost difference in the price residents have paid for their properties and the current market price.
The wide streets and the single and/or double storey houses along them do not provide shade for people to sit together in the summer heat. Higher houses and narrower streets, however, would.
In spite of residents wishing to increase their accommodation, no encroachments on roads and public spaces has taken place. Also, since the settlement is properly planned as neighbourhoods, it is not congested and there appear to be no major social issues or conflicts. The presence of the NGO Saiban has guaranteed protection from encroachment. It has also guaranteed NGO run schools and health clinics due to which resident’s expenditure on education is very low as compared to other settlements.
The houses in KKB-3 are in the process of being added to. The rooms are small and often badly ventilated. Not enough thought was given to the fact that construction would be added to them.
Three important issues emerge from the KKB study.
Circulation and community spaces can be combined so as to increase space for residential plots.
The accommodation requirements of the residents can be fulfilled in plots of 56 square yards (47 square metres) instead of the current 80 square yards (67 square metres)provided permission to build houses of ground plus three is allowed. This would reduce the cost of the plot, infrastructure and construction.
Respondents want that at least two of their children after marriage should be able to live in a semi-independent unit within their plot.
School teachers feel that the areas allocated for the schools are not only appropriate but with the use of neighbourhood open spaces for playing the number of students can be increased by over 50 per cent. However, for higher densities an increase in area allocated for education purposes should be “appropriately” increased.
Nawalane is situated in Lyari Town of Karachi which is over 250 years old. It is an informal settlement that was regularised in 1976. It is spread over 20.9 acres (8.4 hectares), has 769 plots and a density of 1,356 persons per acre (3,376 persons per hectare). Till 1976, when it was regularised, most of the houses were single or double storey. Today, the majority of them are ground plus two to ground plus four (and even ground plus five) and they continue to rise vertically. Parks and playgrounds are almost non-existent. However, there are parks in the neighbourhood of Nawalane. The settlement consists of houses on 38 to 300 square yards (31.38 to 100 square metres) and is served by 24 lanes. The maximum road width is 15 feet (4.5 metres) and the minimum street width is 2 feet 6 inches (0.76 metres).
The settlement is ethnically homogenous. The ancestors of all the residents migrated from Balochistan. All the respondents were born here except for four women who had come to the settlement as a result of marriage. The average family size of the respondents is 13.56 and at an average two families live on one plot. There are 6.36 children per nuclear family and as such space is required for playgrounds. 34.21 per cent males and 54.84 per cent females are between the ages of 20 and 29. As such, there will be substantial growth in the population in the coming decade. 23.68 males are over 60 years and hence require space for recreation. Only 18.84 per cent of the population uses their homes for economic activity. This is because traditionally this is a working class area and does not have a tradition of entrepreneurship. 71.15 per cent of the area is residential; 19.6 per cent is streets; and only 0.12 per cent is parks and open spaces.
The important findings of the analysis of the physical and social survey are given below.
Nawalane can be spatially divided into two almost equal zones, “A” and “B”. Zone “A” is in the south-east and has a majority of houses of ground plus three to ground plus four. Its density is around 4,480 persons per hectare. This is more than twice the maximum government prescribed density of 650 persons per acre (1,605 persons per hectare) for income apartment complexes. The physical and social conditions in Zone “A” are degraded. The streets are congested, obstructing air circulation and natural light. Due to this, the residents have constructed sky lights overhead or alongside bedrooms for capturing natural light and air. Interviews suggest that the residents are dissatisfied with these conditions because they pose issues of physical and psychological well-being, promiscuity and privacy. Social relations are also strained and the residents are less communicative than in Zone “B”. In many cases, 30 to 40 persons live on one plot. They cannot afford to purchase or rent accommodation except in informal settlements on the city fringe. They do not wish to go there because of strong social and family ties with Nawalane and because of tenure insecurity associated with the informal settlements.
Congestion within the house (as in Zone “A”) also means that the father prefers to stay out of the house and that the mother is happier when the elder children are away. Due to this, the elder children have greater freedom and adolescents become part of gangs or take to drugs. 
In Zone “B” (which is in the north-west), the people are visibly relaxed, more open and communicative. Parts of the streets and cul-de-sacs are privatised with the consent of neighbours and extended families. This provides badly needed open space. Interviews also suggest that in Zone “B” the social relations between neighbours are more cordial than in Zone “A” and adolescents, as a rule, “less aggressive”. Houses are also larger and plot sizes bigger in Zone “B” and most of the houses are of ground plus one floor. Younger people have moved out to other areas and come back for religious festivals and family gatherings. The density in Zone “B” is about 2,600 persons per hectare and the environment, in spite of ad-hoc planning and encroachments onto streets, does not give a feeling of congestion.
Streets are used as public space. Since most of them are inaccessible by motorised transport, they are secure. Respondents do not wish their children to play unsupervised and as such 50.72 per cent play within their homes. Children over 14 go to play in the neighbourhood parks. Streets in front of the house are the domain of women and young children. The periphery is the domain of men and male youths. 60.87 per cent of women face problems with regard to recreation and entertainment. They feel the need for community halls and vocational schools.
Weddings and festivals also take place on the streets and this creates considerable inconvenience for the residents as access to their homes is often blocked off as a result.
People spend around Rs 5,000 (US$ 625) per year for the maintenance and improvements to their houses. The average income per household is Rs 6,500 (US$ 81.25) per month, 11 per cent of which is spent on transport and 22 per cent on the education of children. 62.28 per cent of the population feels that the major disadvantages of living in Nawalane are related to lack of open space, privacy and security. 85.36 per cent of the respondents felt that the major advantage of living in Nawalane is proximity to the city centre and places of work and to family and ethnic networks.
The narrow roads prevent access of ambulances or fire engines into the locality and pose problems for the maintenance of sewage and electricity supply lines.
66.66 per cent of the respondents said that they would not like to leave Nawalane even if they are offered an affordable choice. 17.4 per cent opted for a plot of land in other areas of Karachi and 5.8 per cent for a two room apartment on the city fringe. 10.14 per cent could not specify their choice.
There are health and education facilities in the settlement. The health facilities, however, are in the informal private sector and as such exploitative both in terms of costs and quality. Families spend a large amount on education but that is because of the large family size.
Houses have been built over time in an ad-hoc manner and do not function well. The rooms are far too small and as mentioned earlier there are problems of congestion, light and ventilation.
The important issues that emerge from the Nawalane study are given below.
Densities over 3,500 persons per hectare create congestion that planning may find difficult to manage. Congestion and lack of space for social interaction is also responsible for discomfort in social relations.
If circulation and community spaces can be combined, densities of upto 3,500 persons per hectare can be achieved without compromising on environmental conditions.
56.33 square yard (47 square metres) plots can accommodate three families provided permission is granted to build ground plus three floors and if there is sufficient accessible open space in front or adjacent to the house.
For densities of between 2,000 to 3,500 persons, at least 4 per cent of the area (as opposed to the present 2.32) should be allocated for primary schools.
Road width should be a minimum of 15 feet (4.5 metres) so as to permit access of service and emergency vehicles.
Space for recreation and related activities should be provided for women. 50 per cent of the area for amenities should be allocated for this function.
The settlement would have been very different if there had been an organisation that could have provided the residents with design advice and managerial guidance for the expansion of their homes and prevented the encroachments that have taken place.
3.3 Paposh Nagar
Aurangabad in Paposh Nagar was created as a plot settlement in 1954 for migrants from India. At that time it was on the city fringe about seven kilometres from the city centre. Today, it is adjacent to the industrial area and to important health and education institutions. It was designed as 417 plots of 45 square yards (38.5 square metres) each. The houses consisted of one floor only. However, over time they have grown and many of them are now ground plus one to ground plus three structures. People have also increased the size of their plots by encroaching on the roads. For example, the tertiary roads were planned as 12 to 14 feet (3.6 to 4.2 metres) wide. Many of them are now only 4 feet (1.2 metres) wide. Secondary roads were 24 feet (7.3 metres) and are now 12 feet (3.6 metres) wide. The primary road, however, has not been encroached upon and remains 48 feet (14.63 metres). As a result of these expansions, the average plot size is now 81.6 square yards (68.2 square metres). Household size is 6.7 persons and there are 1.5 households (10.05 persons) per house. As such, the density is 478 persons per acre (1,182 persons per hectare). The settlement contains two mosques, six schools and private clinics. There is a proper park to the south-west of the settlement which is used by the residents.
The important findings of the analysis of the physical and social survey are given below.
The 12 to 14 feet (3.6 to 4.2 metres) wide roads are used for small scale gatherings and functions. Weddings, however, take place in wedding halls or playgrounds in the area. In the evenings children play in the streets and men hang around in them. Women are not found socialising on the streets. Car ownership ratio is estimated at 1:10 and they are parked wherever space is available. Most of the front gates of the houses open on the 12 feet (3.6 metre) wide roads.
Roof tops and courtyards within the house are used extensively and provide light and ventilation. 89.33 per cent of the respondents believed that the locality requires properly designed recreation spaces that cater to all age groups. The survey suggests that 58.3 per cent of the children under the age of 14 play in neighbourhood playgrounds and parks where parents supervise them. 69 per cent of children over 14 play on the streets unsupervised.
The majority of residents would like to have more space in their houses to accommodate additional economic support facilities. At present, such space is limited.
89.33 per cent of respondents believe that their houses are well ventilated and they do not have any privacy related issues. However, observations and documentation of the houses suggest that they are not well ventilated and there are privacy issues especially where the upper floors of the houses project out onto the narrow streets below.
Almost all families are extended families. 36.32 per cent of the male respondents and 54.05 per cent of female respondents were between the ages of 20 and 30. They claim that they are the dominant group in the settlement. This means an increase in population requiring new homes will take place in the next decade. 26.32 per cent of the respondents are male above the age of 60. They also claim that they are a sizeable group and it is because of them that the extended family system survives and functions.
40 per cent of the respondents have been residing in the area since the last 55 years and 37 per cent of the respondents moved into the locality over the last 10 years. The remaining 23 per cent have moved in during the last two to three decades. Interviews suggest that there is a conflict between the newer residents and the older ones due to a difference in cultural values although they belong to similar political, religious and ethnic networks. Ethnicity is one of the reasons for moving into this locality. The owners from whom they have purchased these houses have gone up in life and moved to better locations because of the improved education of their children and/or entrepreneual skills.
The occupation of the residents is mixed between working class and white-collar employees. The residents are teachers, drivers and maids, para-medics, tailors and beauticians. Only 32 per cent of the respondents work within two kilometres of Paposh Nagar and the rest of the 68 per cent travel long distances to and from work and as such they do not have enough time for social interaction on week days.
85.67 per cent of the respondents were previously living within two kilometres of the city centre. 33.33 per cent owned their houses and 18.67 per cent were renters. The rest lived as extended families. 93.33 per cent of the respondents now own their houses. 46.67 per cent of the respondents wished to continue living in Paposh Nagar as opposed to 2 per cent who would like to own a two room flat in New Karachi.
85.15 per cent of respondents feel that the biggest problem they face in their settlement is related to poor infrastructure, especially with regard to plumbing related issues in kitchens and bathrooms.
Respondents spend 19 per cent of their income per month on transport and 18 per cent on the education of their children. In addition, they spend on an average Rs 7,574 (US$ 94.7) annually on maintenances and improvements and additions to the homes.
The spaces in the Paposh Nagar homes are badly related to each other and also have problems of light and ventilation.
The important issues that emerge from the Paposh Nagar study are given below.
Paposh Nagar was a well planned settlement with proper amenities. However, because of population pressure and the non-availability of alternatives, the settlement densified and encroached on road and public spaces, thus increasing their plot sizes. This densification and growth could have been managed if there had been an authority that would have given design and technical guidance for catering to this growth. With a ground plus three floor option for the 45 square yard plot, the accommodation requirements of the families could have been fulfilled.
Given the current density of the settlement, at least 4 per cent of the area should be utilised for amenities and another 4 per cent for education purposes as compared to the present 2.6 and 2.85 per cent respectively.
By combining public and street space, Paposh Nagar can be redesigned to relatively higher densities without adversely affecting the physical and social environment.
As for KKB and Nawalane, a 56.33 square yards (47 square metres) plot is adequate for fulfilling the needs of the residents.
3.4 Fahad Apartments
Fahad Apartments are different from the other three case studies as they are not a settlement consisting of houses on individual plots but a developer built apartment complex. They are located in an urban development suburban project designed by the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) on 26,000 acres (64,222 hectares). The apartment complex is built on 1.5 acres (0.60 hectare) and consists of 248 apartments and 56 shops. Each apartment has three rooms and a covered area of 81.6 square yards (68.2 square metres). The entire complex is a walk-up affair of ground plus four floors. The average household size is 5.72 persons per apartment which works out to a density of 942 persons per acre (2,329 persons per hectare). This far exceeds the maximum density of 650 persons per acre (1,605 persons per hectare) allowed by the KBCA regulations for low income apartment complexes. Obviously, the developer of Fahad Apartments has violated the rules.
The housing unit in the apartments is also different from the other case studies. It has balconies, attached bathrooms (with glazed tiles) and “American kitchens”. It projects a picture of a different culture and a different way of living. This is developer induced. Many of the residents would live differently if they had built their own homes. To what extent this has determined their lifestyles can be a subject of study.
The other major difference between Fahad Apartments and the other case studies is that amenities and health and education institutions are available to it in a planned manner in the neighbourhood. However, the residents of Fahad Apartments have added a mosque in the open space provided within the complex. Unlike Nawalane and Paposh Nagar, Fahad Apartments are not ethnically homogenous since the apartments were offered for sale on the formal market. The owners and renters have formed a union that takes care of the maintenance for shared spaces and infrastructure. A small office for the union has also been built in the open spaces provided by the developer. The Complex has been occupied for the last ten years.
Important findings of the analysis and of the physical and social survey for Fahad Apartments are given below:
70.6 per cent of the plot area has been built upon and the rest (29.4 per cent) is available as open space. This is used for parking of vehicles (mostly motorcycles) and as a gathering and meeting point and for religious occasions. 80 per cent of the residents “hang out” in this space in the evenings; parents chat with each other and children cycle. Older children use the neighbourhood grounds and parks provided by the KDA. 72 per cent of women do not have any problem with regard to recreation and socialising and feel that the compound fulfils their requirements.
Although transport, electricity and infrastructure are in place, residents complain of plumbing and sewerage problems. They also complain of the failure of their union to provide adequate services for maintenance of infrastructure. In addition, they complain that the union is subservient to a Karachi ethnic political party and this has adversely affected its functioning and also relationships within the community. Although only 10 years old, Fahad Apartments are run down and the open spaces could be better maintained.
Of the 248 apartments only three have commercial activities in them. These are tailoring, an informal Montessori and a beauty parlour. Some apartments have been subdivided for rental purposes. Most residents feel the economic repercussions of inflation and recession and would like to have the possibility of setting up income generation activities in their homes. However, given space and social restrictions, this is not possible.
60 per cent of the male respondents are between the ages of 20 and 29 and have recently got married. Thus, the three room apartment fulfils their requirements. They also feel that the majority of the residents are young people with not more than two to three children and that there are almost no older people living in the apartments. That is why the family size of the respondents is 5.7.
The respondents have not thought of the housing related problems they will face once their children grow up and wish to get married. However, they feel that when the problem arises they will not be able to raise funds for the purchase of an apartment or a plot of land. They are fatalistic and respond “God will provide”.
36 per cent of the residents are employed in “private” jobs such as bank-tellers, accountants, school and college teachers, in the entertainment industry and electronic factories, and also as cooks and drivers. 80 per cent of the families earn more than Rs 11,000 (US$ 138) per month as opposed to 52.17 per cent in Nawalane, 31 per cent in Khuda-ki-Basti and 35 per cent in Paposh Nagar. They spend 15.4 per cent of their monthly income on transport, 24 per cent on their children education and Rs 631 (US$ 8) on their house maintenance. House maintenance here means the monthly instalments they pay to the residents’ union unlike the other studies where it also means improving the home.
36 per cent of the working population works within two kilometres of Fahad Apartments and the rest, 64 per cent, travel long distances to and from work. Unlike the other case studies, who use local markets for shopping, the Fahad Apartments residents shop at the Samama Shopping Mall and KDA market which are within two kilometres of the apartments.
60 per cent of the respondents were previously living on rent in other parts of Karachi and 68 per cent chose to move to the apartments so that they could become owners of a place to live. Most respondents claim that their previous residence had a better environment and location but was more expensive in rental and shopping terms. 90 per cent of the residents chose to move to Fahad Apartments because cheap apartments (with a loan facility) were available for sale or on rent.
The important issues that emerge from the Fahad Apartments case study analysis are given below.
KDA zoning regulations for plot townships do not apply to Fahad Apartments. However, it would be interesting to see what densities could be achieved if Fahad Apartments was developed as a self-contained complex with all amenities and facilities, as per these regulations.
If plots instead of apartments can be developed and with incremental additions to the first two floors, densities as high as those prescribed by the KBCA rules can possibly be achieved. However, in this case the developers would not be able to make the profits that they make through building apartments.
Apartments are suitable for white-collar workers. They give an “upwardly mobile” image to their owners. However, with time, congestion and poor maintenance destroy that image.
It is interesting to compare Fahad Apartments with Labour Square which was built 35 years ago in 1974 by the provincial government (for housing factory workers) next to the Sindh Industrial and Trading Estate (SITE). SITE is a major industrial area of the city. Labour Square consists of 28 blocks of three room apartments of ground plus two and ground plus four floor heights. The residents have, over time, become owners of their apartments by paying rental instalments. The important findings related to Labour Square are given below.
Unlike Fahad Apartments the number of persons per apartment is estimated by the residents interviewed as between 10 to 15 persons. When they moved in 1974, many were young married couples with one or two children. Now the children have grown up, got married and have children of their own. It is not possible for them, due to cash constraints and non-availability of affordable loans, to purchase apartments or a plot of land for additional accommodation for all the children. Rentals and even land in katchi abadis, apart from the outer fringe of the city (where there is no infrastructure) is unaffordable.
The maintenance of the apartment complexes is poor. There are problems related to sewage, scarcity of water and poor garbage collection. In addition, a number of informal businesses have cropped up in the open spaces since it is not possible to operate businesses from within the apartments. This, it is claimed, has an adverse effect on the social environment.
Since this is a formally planned area, schools and colleges are available within two kilometre of the neighbourhood and health facilities in the form of private clinics are also available.
A number of conclusions emerge from the four case studies on the basis of which these settlements can be redesigned to provide equal and/or higher densities than those prescribed by the KBCA and with better environmental and social conditions. These conclusions are given below.
All the respondents and interviewees in the four settlements wanted to own a place to live. The distance from the place of work mattered, but it was a secondary issue.
The respondents preferred a place that could grow incrementally to house some of their children after marriage since they were aware that finding separate accommodation for them was not an affordable option.
The vast majority of respondents wanted the possibility of carrying out some income generating activity within their home. This was an important consideration.
Except for the KKB-3, all the settlements had densities that were in excess of the KBCA requirements for apartment complexes.
In building their homes initially, residents in the plot settlements had not considered the additions that they would incrementally make as their needs increased. As a result, the houses were badly planned and ventilated and the neighbourhoods, in the case of Nawalane and Paposh Nagar, have problems of congestion and in certain areas of Nawalane there are also social problems. Planning in advance for the incremental growth of the house is a must.
Apartment living forces a different lifestyle and culture on residents. It is perhaps because of this that the majority of families that have opted for it in Fahad Apartments are less poor than those who live in the other three settlements.
The existence of a controlling authority and/or one that gives advise on development, helps the settlements to grow in an organised manner. Such an authority prevents encroachments on streets and public space and helps in the creation of education and health facilities. Saiban plays this role in KKB-3 but does not provide design advice on house construction. However, design and technical support for house construction is essential if an improved physical and social environment is to be created and sustained.
Streets in low income plot settlements are planned for vehicular traffic but are not used as such. They can be integrated into parks and open spaces as a result of which space for residential areas can be considerably increased.
The site percentages allocated by the KBCA for different activities are rational and do produce a liveable physical and social environment. However, for higher densities than proposed by the KBCA, a higher percentage has to be set aside for education and amenity purposes.
In the case of plot townships of 15 acres (6.07 hectares) or more, core houses (which can be added to) or plots of land on which people can build, are normally provided. Such land is on the periphery of the city and developers accept these conditions. Space for facilities and amenities are set aside as per KBCA regulations and are built upon by the government, the developer or by NGOs inducted into the planning process.
Plots for apartment blocks and complexes are usually part of a larger KDA sector plan. The sector and its different neighbourhoods have spaces allocated for social amenities such as commercial, educational, health and recreation. As such, the developer does not have to provide for these in the apartment complex plan. In addition, land is expensive in these locations and the developer would loose financially if he were to plan for incremental growth. This has been discussed with developers and estate agents and their proposals have been considered in the re-planning of Fahad Apartments which are discussed in Section 5.4 below.
Orientation of roads, their widths and the ultimate heights of buildings and their relationship to each other are important to provide a climatically comfortable environment so that they can be used in the heat and humidity of a Karachi summer.
In the re-planning exercise, it was not possible to achieve ultimate densities of higher than 3,500 persons per hectare without increasing the house heights to more than ground plus three floors or cutting back on spaces for amenities and social facilities. Increasing the heights make the houses uncomfortable and their living spaces on the floors below lacking in light and ventilation. Decreasing spaces for amenities and social facilities, adversely affects social and environmental conditions.
The dimensions of the plots are important for developing rational and economic layouts. A geometrical relationship between width to depth is advisable. The narrower the width the cheaper are infrastructure and construction costs.
5. CONCEPTUAL REMODELLING OF THE SETTLEMENTS
5.1 Khuda-ki-Basti – 3
Khuda-ki-Basti has been remodelled to increase its density to more than the maximum prescribed by the KBCA regulations. According to KBCA regulations, the density at KKB should be 500 persons per acre (1,285 persons per hectare). The density achieved is 693 persons per acre (1,714 persons per hectare). For details of density and landuse. The manner in which density has been increased and landuse changes have been made, with the results achieved, are explained below.
The plot size has been decreased from 80 square yards (67 square metres) to 56 square yards (47 square metres). This has been done because the requirements of the KKB residents can be fulfilled on a smaller plot. The dimensions of the plot have been changed so as to make the plot 13 feet x 39 feet (3.96 x 11.8 metres). As a result, a larger number of plots can be accommodated. After remodelling the number of plots has increased from 1,237 to 2,112.
Residential and residential-cum-commercial landuse has been increased from 47.14 per cent to 55 per cent. This is in keeping with the maximum prescribed KBCA regulations.
By combining road and open spaces, circulation areas have been reduced from 35.6 per cent to 23.5 per cent (KBCA minimum 22 per cent) and as a result commercial areas, parks, amenities and space for educational facilities have been increased from 1.85, 7.24, 2.86, 3.19 per cent to 5, 8, 4, 4.5 per cent respectively. This is a major improvement in the physical environment.
The increase in the number of plots and the new dimensions also reduces the cost of the plot considerably. The Saiban cost of a plot was Rs 42,000 (US$ 525). After remodelling the cost comes down to Rs 24,600 (US$ 308). In addition, savings on infrastructure cost (water, sewage, road) per plot comes to Rs 5,965 (US$ 74). This means a 44 per cent saving on infrastructure development. This remodelling makes KKB far more affordable.
Nawalane currently has a density of 1,356 person per acre (3,367 persons per hectare). An attempt has been made to keep the same density. However, this has not been successful and as a result the density has been reduced to 1,291 persons per acre (3,214 persons per hectare). This is about 2.5 times higher than the KBCA prescribed densities. The remodelling exercise has improved the physical conditions and as a result many of the social problems faced by the residents (with regard to recreation, entertainment, education, public space, gender issues, privacy) have been taken care of. How this has been achieved is explained below.
The average size of a plot in Nawalane is 125 square yards (100 square metres). It varies between 38 to 300 square yards (25 to 251 square metres). Currently, there are 769 plots. These have been replaced by 1,000 plots of 56.33 square yard (47 square metres) each.
Currently, there are 2.72 families (36.8 persons) living on each plot. Remodelling suggests two families or 27 persons on each plot. Housing plans developed for the settlement are ground plus three, with eight rooms.
Landuse allocations have also been changed. By remodelling residential use has been reduced from 60.5 to 55 per cent which is prescribed by the KBCA regulations. Commercial, parks, amenities and space for educational institutions has been increased from 0.02. 0.12, 1.81, 2.32 percent to 5, 10, 4, 4 per cent respectively.
The existing circulation area in Nawalane is 19.6 per cent. It consists of narrow congested lanes. It has been increased to 22 per cent and wherever possible roads and open spaces have been combined so as to give the settlement a feeling of openness.
Amenities have been grouped together around large open spaces and the fact that they will be single storey (may be double) as compared to the ground plus three floor houses, will increase the feeling of openness at these nodes.
Commercial areas have been developed on the periphery road. Each commercial plot is also 56 square yards (47 square metres) and may have three floors of apartments above it.
Sections through the site indicate that the ground plus four floor heights of the houses will not create a feeling of congestion.
Ideally speaking the family size in remodelled Nawalane should be 13.4 with a building height of ground plus two and a half. This would give a density of 641 persons per acre (1,583 persons per hectare) and if the commercial units are added, the density increases to 672. Again, this is higher than the KBCA prescribed densities of 500 persons per acre for townships and 650 persons per acre for apartments.
5.3 Paposh Nagar
Paposh Nagar currently has a density of 478 persons per acre (1,182 persons per hectare). The average plot size is 81.6 square yards (67.8 square metres) and the average number of persons per plot is 10.5. By following the principles applied to the remodelling of Nawalane, the number of plots has been increased from 714 to 777 and at 13.4 persons per house the density has been increased to 694 persons per acre (1,715 persons per hectare).
If the household size is reduced from 13.4 persons to the existing 10.5, the density decreases to 543 persons per acre (1,343 persons per hectare). If the commercial areas are added, then the density increases to 658 persons per acre (1,625 persons per hectare). This is higher than the KBCA maximum prescribed densities for apartment blocks.
The remodelling of Paposh Nagar creates a pleasant non-congested settlement. The residential area has been reduced from 60.5 per cent to the KBCA prescribed 55 per cent. The commercial area, parks, amenities, spaces for educational institutions have been increased from 4, 4, 2.85, 2.60 per cent to 5, 10, 4, 4 per cent respectively. Road space has also been increased from 16.03 to 22 per cent. Sections through the site indicate that the ground plus four floor heights of the houses will not create a feeling of congestion.
5.4 Fahad Apartments
Plots for apartment complexes are built by developers with loan facilities. The developer maximises his profits. As such, the concept of incrementally increasing the house was considered difficult to apply to a developer built scheme. Therefore, developers were contacted and discussions held with them and with estate agents. As a result, a number of interesting alternatives were proposed by them.
The studies carried out prove conclusively that through proper planning much higher densities than those prescribed by the KBCA for apartment blocks can be achieved by building small houses on plots of land. It is also conclusively proved that the accommodation in these houses can be incrementally increased provided proper design and technical advice is provided to the house owners. All this can be done without adversely affecting the physical and social environment as envisaged by the KBCA regulations.
This study is really an exploration into an understanding of the spatial dynamics of low income settlements and their relationship to social, economic and real estate development issues. Further work is required before one can reach conclusions that can apply universally. A few recommendations are given below.
The high-density-incremental-growth-individual-house model is suitable for new settlements and townships. Additional work on the planning of individual units and landuse, governance systems and financial requirements for the model need to be initiated.
There are groups among the better-off poor who may prefer apartments. A better understanding of who they are and what they can afford is necessary.
In incrementally growth, densities would require 20 years to achieve the targets they are planned for. A better understanding of the pros and cons of this reality needs to be investigated.
Although the research deals with developer related concerns for the incremental housing model on apartment sites, it does not really offer a viable solution. Developer concerns need to be addressed.
A study for the comparison of the Karachi situation and the KBCA regulations with other cities in Asia should be initiated.
Study of further options and plot sizes to the ones that have been proposed should be carried out leading to the development of new zoning and density related regulations.
The results of the study should be presented to the area communities and their feedback should be used for modifications if required.
From the data that has been gathered, academics should draw urban design and housing related lessons and turn them into teaching material.
. Han Verschure, et Al; Evaluation and Recommendations for Infrastructure and Resettlement Pilot Project Tan Hoa-Lo Gom Canal Sanitation and Urban Upgrading in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, April 2006. Also, material available with UN’s Advisory Group on Forced Eviction for Istanbul, Turkey
. Arif Hasan’s discussions with politicians and local government planners in Ho Chi Minh City, Istanbul, Karachi and Delhi
. These interviews were carried out in August and September 2008 at Al Azam Square, Karimabad; Labour Square – 1, Orangi Town; Falaknuma Apartments, New Karachi
. These interviews were carried out in August 2008 at Khuda-ki-Basti, Nawalane, Lyari and Chashma Goth
. As per the KBCA byelaws, maximum residential area 55 per cent of site; maximum commercial 5 per cent of site; minimum 22 per cent for roads and minimum 3 per cent for educational use; and minimum 5 per cent each for playgrounds, public use buildings and parks. Source: Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations, 2003
. Saiban is an NGO engaged in providing unserviced land at affordable down payment and monthly instalments to poor families. They acquire infrastructure over time on the OPP model. Saiban provides support through other NGOs for education and health programmes and advice on infrastructure development
 . Plots were provided at Rs 10,000 (US$ 125) down payment and Rs 300 (US$ 3.75) per month instalments for seven years. This works out to a total of Rs 42,000 (US$ 525). The current market price for a plot in the area is Rs 300,000 (US$ 3,750)
. Source: Akhtar Ali Khan, Project Director, Saiban, Karachi
. Also see Arif Hasan, Demographic Change and its Socio-economic Repercussions: The Case of Karachi; unpublished paper, April 2009
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