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  • Krisha Dharaiya

Housing in India’s Second Cities

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Semester 3 Allied Design

Batch- Vertical Studio

Blog by- Krisha Dharaiya - A20

The Covid-19 pandemic limited urban studies to just a screen, but this medium also opened up multiple sources and helped overcome barriers such as language and time. The allied design course began with the overall study of two meso-cities in India - Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu and Kozhikode in Kerala.

The study started with an inspection of census documents, drawing the map of the city, the geographical history, and formulating a timeline. This included the study of demographics, the factors affecting the population over the years, changes over these past decades and current important features in and around the city. All of this was done through secondary sources, which allowed a wider perspective. These sources included government websites, old maps, master plans for the city, and news articles.

Along with research, reading of books such as The Generic City and Whatever happened to Urbanism by Rem Koolhaas, Learning from Las Vegas, Immaterialism by Graham Harman, Philosophy and Stimulation and A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel DeLanda was done in order to study the emergence, setting up and ways of describing a city.

After the overview of the cities, each person started looking at the emerging contexts with reference to the city. Initial studies of the contexts began with the references of News articles, fiction and non-fiction writings about the city, city development reports, district level statistical reports, state policy documents etc. All of which was in the direction of housing, its requirements in the second cities, the inhabitants, the way this typology is built, how it has evolved over time and their placements in response to the location in the city. The scale of the housing and the factors affecting it with reference to the context also helped in understanding the typology better. The data collected through the secondary sources was put together by drawing as a research method. This included drawings of the forms of housing, neighborhood, actors and networks involved, and regulatory frameworks. The method of drawing helped in understanding spatial configurations and social configurations followed by tracing the relationship between each of these drawings. Each of the contexts could be diagrammed with relevant institutional frameworks. Thus, the study of networks of actors became easier.

The emerging contexts included higher education institutions, IT industry, Emigration and remittance, environmental concerns, tourism, industrial housing colonies, government housing schemes and retirement homes. For each emerging context, there is an individual study as well as a comparison seen between the two cities. The study was followed by asking the questions based on the research that interrogated the emergence of the housing typology with reference to these contexts and the recent shifts in patterns.

The context I studied in detail was the Environmental Concerns of Kozhikode. The city of Kozhikode has the Arabian sea on the western boundary and the western ghats on the opposite side. There are several major rivers in Kerala that flow through this district as well. These are seasonal rivers that start from western ghats and move towards the sea. The state of Kerala faced a major flood in 2018 and several landslides followed this event. The western ghats and the sea allow varying contours all over the place which results in not permitting the flood water to flow out. There were multiple actors that played roles at several levels in the management of such calamities. These actors included weather departments, disaster management, NGOs at the Central, State and local tiers. The floods and other natural disasters were not seen frequently in Kozhikode, but the pattern and timeline was well understood through research. The study was completely done via secondary sources, majorly through government websites, and was presented through the use of softwares such as autocad, illustrator, photoshop in order to draw the data and represent it on the online platform. Census documents, weather reports, old maps, etc. became several subordinate sources. This course allowed me to explore such softwares and curate the information in a defined research format. Every person who studied these emerging contexts used the softwares for a better representation of the drawings, and the data. This was followed by the questions, “What is the effect of floods and topography on the houses of Kozhikode? What agencies play important roles in disaster management?” which was answered by my research done on the Environmental Concerns in Kozhikode, Kerala.

Image 1 Sources- Old maps, census data(bar graph, pie charts)-
Kozhikode map made on illustrator reference- mp_kozhikode_plu_map.pdf (

Image 2 Sources- Flood images-
Pie chart damaged houses- Rebuild Kerala Initiative- RKI


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