Session 25

25. Methodological Weaknesses in Approaching Affordable Housing in the Global South – Need for Context-Responsive Approaches

There is a growing scholarly concern for improving the methodological approaches towards tackling the issue of housing not only in the context of the emerging world but also in most developed countries. The session aims towards assessing methodologies and proposing recommendations both at a micro and a macro level focusing on design approaches to affordable housing in the former and governmental approaches to Housing affordability in the latter. Concerning the design approach at the grassroots level, it has become essential for designers and architects to be more sensitive and responsive to the local culture, context, and lifestyle, especially in the global south which is considerably different in reference to the western context. To achieve this, along with quantitative analysis, an in-depth qualitative analysis is essential to understand intangible aspects such as space-power dynamics, cultural complexities, and local value systems. This could be best possible when we ‘decolonize’ our minds and ‘de-westernize’ our research methods. Research shows that various cases in the emerging countries where affordable housing projects have failed were predominantly due to their lack of design response to the local context. However, many humanitarian architects and planners today are promoting the practice of bottoms-up and ‘culturalist’ approach over the conventional top-down approach. Such best case practices can be discussed and reflected on, especially in the context of the global south. This session encourages researchers to focus on local, frugal methods or strategies with home grown knowledge as opposed to the global, western methodologies. Nowadays, with minimal emphasis given to how ‘context-responsive’ a policy is in addressing challenges of housing issues, this session is further open to address the challenges in how housing affordability is measured. Considering the current governmental approaches and policies, there is a proven need to re-examine the traditional methods of measuring affordability in many countries, especially in emerging nations. With rising academic interest in this area over the past years, there has been an increase in the amount of research which has led to not only proposing new methods but also advancing traditional methods of measuring housing affordability beyond mere socio-economic conditions as metrics. Housing affordability in any context needs a holistic approach that is responsive to sustainability issues. It also demands interdisciplinary approaches involving positive outcomes on different levels and areas such as improved transportation infrastructure, decrease in inequality, social and household wellbeing and income adequacy to name a few. The session thereby attempts to enhance a critical global dialogue on methods to approach the issue of affordable housing at micro and macro levels, contributing to research and related literature on housing.