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Wastepicker Hall, Delhi

A new civic centre to bridge social and spatial segregation 

The project was developed as part of the Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources Research group.  It has been published in the book “Learning from Delhi”. The proposals resulted from an intensive fieldwork in Delhi mapping the urban context of the settlement as well as engaging with the community to understand the cultural and social landscapes. See our social and cultural mappings here.


The Wastepicker community are currently rejected by society, living in uncertain conditions whilst the plans for a new public park are developed adjacent to their homes. The proposal aims to integrate the marginalised slum dwellers both physically and socially into the city.

The design of a “Wastepicker Hall” employs a strategic use of a civic typology and public space to dignify a vulnerable group of people, and proposes educational and workshop spaces to provide skills to help lift them out of extreme poverty. The building also provides serene spaces of contemplation in the chaos of the rapidly urbanising city.





The design was developed in response to the richness and variety of space found within the existing area, drawing from the vitality of communal life which is nurtured by intimate, small-scale spaces. A series of flexible gathering spaces focus around a central courtyard, characteristic of traditional layouts. The zig-zaging, perforated brickwork façade reinterprets of the Indian jail-wall; the corrugations enabling the construction to be only 1 brick thick, preserving resources whilst creating dynamic diversity in the façade with the play of light and shadow.


The building is crowned with a public garden of bamboo, creating a pleasant micro-climate in the intense heat and forming a safe place for play. Juxtaposed with the heavy brick construction, lightweight screens are formed from the bamboo grown above; the renewable source of material allowing the building to be adapted to the changing needs of the community over time. The tower creates a civic landmark, whilst also filtering water to form a pool at the base which acts as natural air conditioning.




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