Martina Spies (2016), places and identities. Institute of Architecture Technology; 1st reviewer: Peter Schreibmayer, 2nd reviewer: Alexander Hamedinger; 506 pages, German.
Dharavi, a central district of Mumbai, is one of the densest informal settlements in Asia. It is a home for about 100 communities (nagars) with different backgrounds and from all parts of India. These neighborhoods have grown organically with its inhabitants living together in cramped spaces and under poor hygienic conditions. The thesis considers the organizational and structural solutions which have been found by its inhabitants at a modest level of order and design of their habitat as a starting point and basis of improvements of the living conditions. This is a contradiction to the slum redevelopment projects initiated by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority since 1971. The current government projects neither take the vital connection between the living and working spaces nor the concept of community spaces nor the spatial references to the traditional living culture of India into account. The inhabitants themselves are in the focus of research - especially as suppliers and sources of meaningful information. The investigation of the social fabric and the spaces in which the daily life happen show how the spatial structures (hardware) are reflected in the social structures (software). Using case studies in five different places/neighborhoods provides an understanding of these relationships and the social, economic and structural changes during the last decades. The thesis has linked different research methods of sociology, architecture and urban morphology to provide a comprehensive knowledge of the selected neighborhoods and the requirements of the residents´ habitat.