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Tugged beneathe Gandolaya Bridge, this humble settlement that hugs the west bank Chode River is an urban gem -- the architecture of these squatter houses detailed the aspiration of the architect who fought to upkeep the life of this village, originally reputed to house poor, unhealthy, undesirable groups of people outcast by the society.
Connected by intricate alleys and terracing steps (with extremely steep ones too!), the houses are simple, functional and unique. In the spirit of ad-hoc growth, dwellings built reacted very closely to the given topography with shared facilities such as the multi purpose hall [which at any point in time is a library, kitchen, sick bay..], common water points & lavotaries.
Deemed the ‘back-end’ of the city, the squatter village settlement along the river was built on refuse dumps and open sewer. It was originally a place where illegal immigrants (from other parts of the country) and the ‘undesirables’ of the society sought shelter. Despite countless efforts to demolish Kampung Chode due to its notorious reputation, Y.B. Mangunwijaya fought to improve the conditions of the settlement, tackling the most needy members of the community first and pursuing a cooperative arrangement where the community had to work together to build the houses.
Responding largely to site conditions and needs of the inhabitants, the quarters grew organically. In line with the believes to create a sustainable and cooperative community, the only component that was planned was the ‘House of Brotherhood of Neighbours’ (also known as Balai Serbaguna now) – a place for learning, meetings and sharing.
(summarized from Aga Khan Award for Archiecture 1992 project writeup)
Some of the dwellings have conical concrete footings supported on the storm drain’s upstands, while some used retaining walls as foundations. Most are raised above ground on pilotis due to poor soil conditions and the steep topography along the riverbanks. Interestingly, these raised platforms allowed livestock inhabitants of multi-coloured chicks to roam about, and were temporary shelves for villagers while they cooked or did their washings.
Post and beam structure with pitched roof is a predominant architecture feature of the buildings. The structures are lightweight timber structures, with some utilizing the “A” frames structure design to provide additional support to the structures, especially those with 2 storeys. Bamboo woven walls and windows allow for spaces within to be naturally ventilated.
Characterised by tropical climate, the site receives seasonal heavy monsoon rainfall. Temperature remains relatively consistent throughout the year. Largely humid and warm with a temperature ranging 24 – 32 degrees celcius, it is imperative that the buildings be naturally and well ventilated.