BANAO! Building Better Anganwadis
Design and build of 'anganwadis' or public day care centres in 10 self-built low-income neighborhoods across Delhi.
The project is building ‘anganwadis’ (public day care centres) across 10 marginalised neighborhoods in National Capital Region of Delhi to provide access to education and nutrition to children, along with health check-up services for pregnant/lactating mothers and adolescent girls. Hindi for ‘courtyard shelter’, an ‘anganwadi’ is a child and mother day care centre as part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, a centrally sponsored Indian government scheme which can be availed in any urban neighborhood with more than 40 children regardless of the land tenure. These centers are crucial for early child care and education of children up till 6 years of age as well as women in marginalized communities in urban centres. However, there are huge gaps in the delivery of services at these centres, with the lack of a habitable space with adequate light and ventilation being a major challenge that this project aims to address.
The 10 neighborhoods that have been identified for the proposal have diverse contexts where either there is no existing anganwadi service or it is being run from cramped makeshift spaces without access to basic amenities such as a toilet. The designs for each of the 10 anganwadis are being developed as modular prototypes for the diverse urban contexts across Indian cities with different typologies of the day care spaces, ranging from community spaces co-created in informal settlements to government school campuses as per the National Education Policy. Consequently, the design responses require temporary and dismantlable structures in some cases, retrofits in few and more permanent buildings in others. The project proposal and development is supported by Re:arc Institute Practice Lab as part of their Practice-Based Funding experiment.
The project’s design approach to design is informed by the ICDS syllabus and pedagogical approaches including BaLA or Building as Learning Aid. The spaces are designed for especially for children keeping in mind their eye level and reach and differently for adults. Universal accessibility with a focus on disability inclusion is an important part of the approach. The project design approach also looks at how pedagogy can be pushed beyond the walls of the classroom to encourage gross and fine motor skill development. The design process in the project is deeply collaborative in nature with continuous stakeholder engagement from its inception to handover.
Apart from building the physical spaces, the project also intends to create a toolkit of multiple design solutions for replication in similar contexts across Indian cities in partnership with national NGOs and government bodies. Each anganwadi would become a significant prototype for adoption of safer and more sustainable building practices by the surrounding communities who are currently prone to fire hazards, earthquakes and climate change related risks such as flooding. The larger, long term hope is influencing the replication of the modular designs for the creation of more sustainable spaces with adequate light, ventilation and stronger structures - thereby building the resilience of informal settlements towards natural disasters, climate change or demolitions.
Finally, the project intends to address systematic incremental access of basic services such as water supply, sewage lines, identification cards etc in each of the 10 neighbourhoods through the creation of a formal address of the informal settlement that an ‘anganwadi’ provides. This confluence of a formal welfare scheme with informal building processes, will be a critical step in supporting the intangible everyday assertion of the right to the city of the residents of informal settlements who are key service providers in the city and yet, are typically considered ‘encroachers’ by planning authorities. The project’s multi-pronged approach lying at the intersection of design, planning and governance is also aimed at influencing policy decisions for housing rights and inclusive cities.