Slum architecture is determined on the basis of area usage and at the same time being accessible for people living in the location. Slums don’t have any style motives but are based on practicality. These houses are built in close proximity to accommodate a maximum number of residents.


Slums are massively populated urban areas distinguished by substandard housing, inadequate access to clean water and sanitation, and a steadily changing suburban population. According to 2012 records, 863 million people called a slum as their home. Global urbanization is unbeaten, and the highest urban growth occurs in the periphery of cities and creating large squatter illegal settlements. This has propelled a great form of poverty induced migration from stagnated rural areas to the towns and cities. They affect everything almost the entire community, from education to natural disasters.

The socio-cultural imapct of slums in cities - Sheet1
Overview of Dharavi ©
The socio-cultural imapct of slums in cities - Sheet2
Dharavi (Unequal Scenes by Johnny Miller) ©

“The skyline of a city changes with time. But there are places that always grow and never recede, despite the glimmering skylines. The slums”

-Shrib Hussen (poet)



The germination of slums generally manifests major upshots on both humans and the environment that are inseparably associated. On the one hand, the conditions that exist in slums like living under physical menace from natural and fabricated disasters, and the direct impacts of improper housing on the residents.

Slum residents themselves can strike their environment due to the deprivation of primary services, which follows in contaminated soil and polluted air and waterways. This results in a preserved cycle of fall for both the slum dwellers and the environment. It also induces a possibility of repercussions that extend to communities beyond the slums. The growth and expansion of slums can, therefore, threaten sustainable urban development at local, national, and regional scales.

Growth and expansion of slums can also impact the national and regional economy, both negatively and positively. For example, the negative aspect of slums relates to the fact that they are often burdened with high transaction costs, including increases in transportation expenditures because of inadequate infrastructure and disease burden on urban dwellers because of the large number of people living in slums. Also, ambiguous property and tenancy rights can reduce the efficiency of urban land and housing markets, and may discourage investment or reduce participation in urban labor markets. This may potentially impact a region’s overall economic outlook in the global economy, thus, making it less competitive in the worldwide arena.


Less often mentioned in the literature is the economic good provided by slum dwellers. Slum-dwellers subsidize the middle classes and the business world by providing a comparatively cheap source of labor. In some cases, this informal economy has positively impacted the country’s gross domestic product. Slums in Dharavi, India, for example, employ as many as 70% of its residents with current economic output estimates of US$700 million annually. Other places like Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkata, dead India, also depend heavily on the informal sector for supporting much of their day-to-day manufacturing activities.

Principal Footprints

“Slum areas are the service sector of smart cities. It is not like to be ignored.”

-CharitarthUnagar (background unknown)


‘Kalaburagi’ (Formerly Gulbarga), is a growing city situated in the north-eastern part of Karnataka State. It is known for its historical monuments built during the reign of the Bahmani kings. More importantly, it is a commercial hub for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. It serves as a regional market and service center for the district in addition to being an educational center. Since the city is located in an economically underdeveloped region, it has become a nodal center for many developmental activities that have started attracting rural folk, from neighboring districts. The city is undergoing rapid change, both in terms of population growth as well as in the degree of urbanization. Also, the slum population has begun to increase numerically and spatially. Thus, slums have become an integral part of Kalaburagi city, and this has led to many slum related problems.


Portions of Dharavi have hovels doubling up as small scale industrial units, where the inhabitants stitch garments, recycle rubbish, make pots or handicrafts, melt rubbish, or more micro-scale businesses to make cash. There are informal shopping areas that present a market for anything one would possibly need. There is a pottery area of Dharavi slum which encompasses a community center. It was established by potters from Gujarat 70 years ago and has grown into a settlement of over 10,000 people.

The socio-cultural imapct of slums in cities - Sheet3
Small Scale Business ©
The socio-cultural imapct of slums in cities - Sheet4
Basic Services ©

The main reason for the many problems in Jagdamba Camp is because of the massive influx of people from surrounding areas. The location and facilities around the slum attract more and more people as residents, which is an immense pressure on facilities inside the slum leading to issues of sanitation and hygiene. The ability of the slum dwellers to earn a livelihood while living in the slums is high due to the sound location of the schools, hospitals, and dispensaries around that present a good support system.

The socio-cultural imapct of slums in cities - Sheet5
A scene at Jagdamba Camp Slum area at Sheikh Sarai ©

Guwahati, which is known as the Gateway to Northeast India is a rapidly developing city of Assam, having extensive job opportunities, a pleasant climate, and reliable road, rail, and air connectivity with other cities of India. In a city so beautiful, slums still exist in abundance. So, during the rainy season, floods always created havoc in different parts of Assam.  In some slum areas where makeshift toilets are used, people face a lot of difficulties as they usually submerge in the floodwater and this further causes a great concern for the spread of contagious diseases.

The socio-cultural imapct of slums in cities - Sheet6
Unhygienic and clumsy conditions ©

“Never burn your slum after seeing another building.”

-AnkitaPandey (background unknown)

During the cyclical phases of the recession, even the thriving informal economy in large urban areas ache. That is when the foremost rooted slums start to expand within the peripheries of urban life. Analysis has shown that in long periods of recession, abundant people moved to urban areas, but since fewer houses were built, hence more slums developed.

For example, in cities like Liverpool and Sydney, where capitalism was on the inflation because of free-trading ports, slums were expressly visible throughout the 1850s to 1890s. As the recession caused the rate of maintenance and rent of dwellings to fall, lower-income people took the opportunity to move into slum areas as their circumstances had led them into poverty.

Peripheral Footprint

Socially, slums offer low-cost housing and cheaper services for rapidly expanding low-income urban populations. They also function as networks of social support for brands, hence spanking new migrants to town. Politically, in democratic and quasi-democratic regimes, slums are a vital source of votes and other kinds of mutual support for local and national governments. Alternatively, they will act as an organizational base for opposition to governments.

The role of slum areas in shaping the image of a city is vital to its future. On the negative side, when a town appears to create few attempts to boost the overall quality of life, this can be reflected in its image. In most of the cities, a minimum of pay pretense to poverty reduction and officials are mostly genuine in their efforts to boost their cities and their society. The discussion on the extent to which a place affects individual circumstances, instead of the reverse, remains unresolved. The permanence of slums, inequality, and the poor, as well as a polluted urban environment, is seen as a chief hindrance to international competitiveness, the position preferences of international firms, and high-profile events like the Olympic Games.

Many so-called slums don’t seem to be the social wastelands of the favored imagination the smallest amount bit, but provide livelihoods, social networks, and a tolerable standard of living for the residents. The implanted sense of community cooperation, involved political mosaic, and tracks of support are going to be destroyed by inept slum clearance operations.

It is hard to exaggerate the contribution that slum dwellers have made to cultural life during the 20th century. Contributions have included some of the main musical and dance movements of the 20th century: jazz, blues, rock and roll, reggae, funk, and hip-hop music in the US, the ballads of Edith Piaf in France, and so much more. Also, songs from many musical genres and countries have been located in slum settings like Bob Dylan’s twisted urban landscapes in Desolation Row, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run; in folk music, Ewan McColl’s Dirty Old Town. These have described aspects of or depicted scenes from slum life. The cityscapes of L S Lowry and the modern expression through graffiti are two ends of a continuum of art arising from slum life.

Slum in Paris ©


“The slums are not a place of despair. Its habitants are all working towards a better life.’ -Vikas Swarup (Indian diplomat)

All cities have their slums and their casual arrangements. Their extent, proportion, and character vary not merely with income level but also with the socio-political or legislative environment and enforcement system.

Slums aren’t only unavoidable; they’re a mark of success in a city.


Shanika Nishi is currently majoring in architecture. With avid interest in reading and research, she has been regularly penning down her ideas into poems. She has a vision of contributing vivaciously to the profession &further while honing her knowledge. She also believes that ‘We must do what little we can.’