Smt. K.L. Tiwari College of Architecture

Housing Principles as seen in ‘The Belapur Artist Colony’ done by Charles Correa Background of the study

This research aims at applying shape grammars as a method for generating improved social housing design systems which may contribute to the development of more diversity in external areas and public spaces, creating identity and appropriation by its dwellers. In order to achieve such goals we start by analyzing social housing plans as case study to infer design patterns to propose the development of generic grammars, which may enable the generation and management of incremental housing systems with locally captured spatial qualities. In the book A Pattern Language (1977), Alexander and his collaborators define a theory and application instructions for the use of a pattern language at different design scales – from the scale of the city and urban design to the building scale, garden and layout of housing units.


The people with different ways of life respond to different physical conditions resulting in a vast variation in the built environment. Different forms taken by dwelling are a complex phenomenon which cannot be explained taking just asingle factor/ The underlying hypothesis is that we can develop a set of generic parallel grammars which allow (and control) the generation of such housing systems.

Objectives of the study

This paper is part of a larger study that proposes a development of a generic grammar to improve the quality of low-income housing plans, including the improvement of public spaces and community areas. The generic grammar isdeveloped from analysis of case study by capturing the underlying common rules that were used in their design. The four case study is : Belapur plan – located in New Bombay, India, designed by Charles Correa in 1986. This paper is focused on the analysis and grammar development of the Belapur plan.

The structure for developing a generic grammar consists of 4 parts:

    • the inference of a specific analytical grammar from an existing case study.
    • creating a generic grammar by generalizing the grammars obtained from the analysis of the case studies.
    • to improve the quality of the final designs the generic grammar is revised according to qualitative requirements for public and community areas based on urban design and housing plan literature.
    • applying the new revised grammar in the development of specific designs for social housing plans. This literature contributes to define the qualitative requirements to be applied as a control mechanism in the generic grammar. The generic grammar is organized in small thematic generative sets corresponding to design patterns following the principles .

Research Methodology

The paper presents the Belapur grammar as a design system, which may contribute to the future development of a generic grammar for social housing plans. The development of a generic grammar for housing intends to contribute
to the improvement of public spaces and community areas by insertion of qualitative requirements as a control mechanism that allows adding public spaces and facilities in a hierarchical structure in accordance to needs.
The bottom-up grammar’s structure explains the concept of incrementality, pluralism and malleability (Correa, 1999) and can transcend the set of design solutions from a few additional rules that are not part of the initial urban plan
proposed by Correa. Additional rules can also be set to react to pre-existing features such as natural barriers, rivers, topography and empty spaces, among others. Although not formally expressed such rules are already present in Correa’s design. After analyzing Correa’s project and developing a grammar for it an important issue has emerged: although the grammar allows the incremental growth of the housing development, how can the overall result display such an orderly character? This issue leads us the question of the design being a bottom-up or top-down process. To achieve his concepts of incrementality, pluralism and malleability, Correa, resorts to a design system which is supposed to be implemented in a bottom-up fashion. Similarly to many natural phenomena where order emerges from a multiplication of local interactions eventually represented by a local rule, Correa’s plan intensions are best captured by a bottom-up grammar where local rules provide not just the incremental procedure but also the underlying order which is always a goal in planning. This can explain the predictability of the result, despite its spontaneous characteristic. With this in mind, we could argue that, although a hypothetical top-down grammar may computationally generate the same shape and order, from the analytical viewpoint it fails to capture the conceptual principles underlying the system and therefore they cannot be considered equivalent. Finally, a subject that needs further attention involves considering how the incremental structure of these grammars deal with the subject of neighborhood facilities location. Such theme is present in Correa’s plan but rules are not formally expressed.

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Ar. Namrata Bhatkar

Assistant Professor at Smt. K. L. Tiwari College of Architecture

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