With Professor Sytse de Mat, Visiting University Lecturer. Architect PhD EPFL. The Perfect SlumEcole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, for understanding and engaging to explore and extract working features of traditional subsistence, livelihood and liveability of informal settlement systems around the world and particularly, in India, which holds many traditions and forwards the variety of major labour flows in a country.

The experience

It has been amazing to work with Prof. Sytse, who has worked around the world, on "INFRASTRUCTURE & INFORMALITY". He has been the studio adviser to GSAPP Columbia NYC and other Institutes in the Netherlands!

The background

Whereas today many architects say they put people at the centre of their work, end-users ask themselves ‘what on earth was the architect thinking when he designed this?’ Shouldn’t architects simply listen to their clients and build what they need (Alexander)? What can we learn from architecture without architects (Rudofsky) and housing by people (Turner)? Besides people, the most prominent things around us are buildings. Whereas architecture is concerned with buildings, psychology and anthropology mainly deal with people vis-à-vis other people.

So far, little is written about how we relate to what we build. In this doctoral thesis, Prof. Sytse de Maat investigates the relationship between people and building, his idea presents a model of how it works, and points out the trends in its evolution. In its quest to understand why slums look like they do, it presents an archaeology of the habitat of one billion people today. It is this spirit, to which the students and faculty of IIT Kharagpur have been exposed to know the other side, and finally the ‘complete ensemble’ of the economy of any hinterland.