The need for affordable housing in emerging urban scenario

India is a young and growing economy. It is estimated that India’s urban population is going to be doubled by 2030 (580 million) from its urban population of 2001 (280 million). The construction of houses in our country are mostly done by private players. If we understand the implication of these two facts on the construction industry by large and the role it will play in coming decades then a lot of perception about it will change.

As per the estimates, India had about 280 million people living in the cities and towns in 2001. Let’s say at an average of 5 persons per house it works out to 56 million houses. So if we say that the urban population is going to double in by 2030 it means we need another 56 million houses to be built. In other words, we need to build almost same number of cities and towns that we had in 2001, by 2030. So who is going to build them and how should they be?

The crowded cities © Indi Samarajiva via Flickr

If we look at how we developed our towns and cities over the last couple of decades we feel it is a disaster barring a few pockets in terms of urban planning, infrastructure and building designs. We all will agree that we do not want to repeat the same mistakes in next 20 years. Also if we think rationally it’s only we, who are already in the age group of 25 to 30 plus will build most of these new urban developments. The 2nd point mentioned by me in the beginning, states that most of these new constructions will be done by private players. So the bright side is that we have the business opportunity like never seen before in our history. At the same time, it’s a challenge never faced earlier by us.

Current results of urbainsation © Dimitry B via Flickr

How do we architects, town planners and other professionals of construction and infrastructure industry, partner to face this challenge and successfully achieve the objective, needs some thoughts. We can have a multifaceted approach to solve this puzzle. We can look at our past performance and learn from our mistakes. Some of them include lack of concern and sensitivity towards environmental impact. There is a need to understand the importance of public transport system and integrating them with private development.

A well planned public transport system can help reduce multiple problems arising due to rapid urbanisation. Image Courtesy :

For private players doing large scale projects the importance of water supply, sanitation and solid waste disposal and supply of electricity in sync with government and local bodies will be very crucial for the success of these developments. Creation of a platform where a number of private players and industry professionals come together to create a common vision for developing a particular part of the region is also very crucial. We can expect some amount of direction from planning authority and government. However, a collaboration between them and private players can be the ideal situation.

As an architect, the lack of quality green and open spaces in our cities really bother me. For our urban population, we need to provide quality recreational spaces like parks, playgrounds and sports facilities at walking or short commuting distance. We also need performing art centres, museums and art galleries to encourage and nurture young talents.

Public spaces such as gardens help strike balance between nature and urban development. © Kuruman via Flickr

The quality of design and planning of public buildings like hospitals, schools, police stations, etc. can add a lot of value to our new urban landscape. To conclude I would say that we are fortunate that there is an urgent need to do all these in near future and in our lifespan the least we can do is to rise to the expectation to full fill it.


Ar. Prashant Sutaria

About the author:

Co-founder of ‘Center of Living and Planning for Tomorrow’ (CELPT), Ar. Prashant Sutaria is a renowned Mumbai based architect with passion for betterment of built environment and sustainable development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *