People love to alter and extend their homes. Many countries have large stocks
of government-built housing which, for various reasons, are in poor physical
conditions and/or do not conform to the expectations of occupants as we
approach the second millenium. In many developing countries, occupants of
such housing make unauthorised but quite considerable changes and extensions to their dwellings for their own use and for renting out. This phenomenon is known as \"Transformation\" and may contain useful models for countries around the world.
In this paper we examine user-initiated transformations to government-built
housing in Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana and Zimbabwe, studied in an ODA (now
DFID)-sponsored research programme. The 1600 dwellings surveyed show
how relatively low income households are capable of supplying new rooms and services both to improve their own housing conditions and to supply rental rooms or accommodation for family members living rent-free. In addition, the new construction is often of at least as good quality as the original structures and sometimes envelops the original in a new skin. Thus, transformation can be seen to be a means of renewing the housing stock at the same time as adding accommodation and services.
Suggested policies to encourage transformations for the renewal of government housing include the provision of loan finance; the encouragement of cooperation between neighbours, especially in multi-storey housing; and the planned colonisation of open space next to the dwellings where plots are not provided. For new housing, transformations suggest larger plots rather than smaller ones and wider ones rather than narrower. In addition, the original dwelling should be close to the edge or corner of the plot rather than being centrally placed.
Tipple, A.G. User-initiated transformations of government-built housing stocks: lessons from developing countries. Journal of Urban Technology (1999) 6 (3) 17-35.