Healthier Cities

Dr Julia King
Design Fellow 2016

Dr Julia King
London School of Economics and Political Science

The population of Delhi, or the National Capital Territory (NCT) of India, has rapidly increased from 4 million people in 1971 to around 24 million people today, making it the fifth most populous city in the world and the largest city in India area-wise. Sewage infrastructure has not kept pace: approximately 55 percent of the population in urban Delhi has access to a sewerage system of which not all ends up in treatment plants with a devastating effect to river ways and ground water aquifers. The lack of sanitation is emerging as one of the most pervasive development and health challenges in India, compounded by rapid urbanization and peri-urbanisation. As such, Delhi, provides a suitable backdrop to examine the issue of how to design sanitation based interventions to improve the urban fabric.

The objective of this research is to identify, design, and prototype interventions for three sites to address the problem of how to deliver sustainable sanitation solutions in the context of disconnected marginalized communities. The project will propose design solutions cross cutting the sanitation chain from toilet to house to co-designed community infrastructure to micro treatment plants. This is a space often informed by engineers, policy makers and human right activists rather than socially and technically viably solutions by designers.



"to deliver sustainable sanitation solutions in the context of disconnected marginalized communities"

The methodological framework for this research is rooted in the pursuit of learning-by-doing in addition to field work observational outputs; adding to emergent forms of architectural/design practice, particularly in contested and marginalized spaces. Research outcomes will be small to medium sized, topically linked building projects in addition to a final report and exhibition. The project expands on Julia’s previous work which explored the possibility of developing infrastructure using techniques and procedures of the incremental housing economy. Culminating in the completion of community based sanitation system connecting individual (household) toilets to a shared septic tank and up-flow filter which forms a Decentralised Wastewater Treatment System (DEWAT).

During the course of designing and developing this project it became apparent that instead of demanding from the city, or state, often inadequate and certainly expensive ‘services’, there could be an important place for collaborative building of the primary connective tissue or infrastructure of a neighborhood.