WINNER// Mumbai

Gorai Dumpsite Closure

(Mumbai// 12,596,019 inhab., India)

The neighbours of Mumbai can once again open their windows, which had been closed for more than two decades, thanks to the closure of the Gorai landfill site and the methane capture project. 19 hectares on which tons of waste were dumped have been transformed into a large green space, the air is decontaminated and the citizens’ quality of life has increased. The closure of the landfill site is an example of urban rejuvenation.

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MENTIONS// Alto Belice, Bangla Desh, Kibera (Nairobi)


(Alto Belice Corleonese// 120,000 inhab., Italy)

Libera Terra was founded in 1995 to recover and promote the use by the citizens of the lands seized from the Mafia with the goal of growing and harvesting high-quality produce through environmentally-friendly methods that respect people’s dignity. The initiative provides work for the residents through cooperatives, with a healthy economic system based on legality and justice.

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Slums, City and Education in Architecture

(Bangladesh// 156,240,855 inhab., Bangladesh)

Bangladesh is home to a large number of citizens who have become isolated in the marginal districts, the slums. BRAC University, through urban development plans, designs their integration into the city through educational, recreational and self-sufficiency projects. The slum community’s participation in the decision-taking on these plans is crucial and allows the clans that make up the neighbourhood to come together and thus improve their relations.

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Map Kibera

(Kibera – Nairobi// 170.000 hab., Kenya)

Kibera, one of the most densely populated and marginalized suburbs of Nairobi, was a gaping void on the map until 2009, when a group of young people from this region created the first digital map, free of charge and open to the world of its own community. Map Kibera has grown to become a complete interactive network for sharing and disseminating information of interest on their locality.

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Since 1972, in Gorai, a suburb to the west of Mumbai, there had been a giant 19-hectare landfill site immediately adjacent to a residential area, blighting the lives of the neighbours. Owing to the pollution and the fetid air, many of them suffered respiratory problems and the hygienic and aesthetic conditions degraded the life of the district and the city. The Gorai Landfill Closure and Gas Capture has put an end to this situation.

Mumbai, with its 17 million inhabitants, is one of India’s main generators of solid waste. Every day since the Gorai landfill site opened, 1,200 tons of waste were deposited there. In 2009 the accumulation of 2.34 million tons reached a height of 26 metres. However, until very recently, environmentally- and citizen-friendly waste management was not a municipal priority. This changed in the year 2000 with the Municipal Solid Waste Rules that made it compulsory to collect, transport and treat solid waste in hygienic, sanitary sites and not in open-air landfills.

In 2007 the Mumbai Supreme Court ordered the ambitious task of closing down the Gorai landfill site and transforming it into a green space to improve the neighbours’ quality of life and move forward towards a more environmentally friendly city. Over the years the waste rotted and the site emitted toxic gases that spontaneously combusted, leading to major fires and also poisonous liquids that polluted the groundwater and the surroundings. A major team of scientists was required to lead the project. Over the next two years the Municipal Brihanmumbai Corporation planned the closure, decontaminated the area and transformed the space. Methane and lixiviate emissions were brought to an end and once the surface was covered in vegetation the bad odours, rodents and insects that populated the site disappeared, improving its hygiene. A project, which is still underway, was also started up to burn landfill waste and to generate electrical energy to supply the entire suburb with the evolved methane gas.

A great green 19-hectare park was inaugurated in 2009. This is a truly charming space affording the best views of the city and of the Vipassana Buddhist Pagoda. The quality of life in Gorai is better and has pushed up the price of housing. The temperature in the area has dropped by several degrees and the clean air no longer reveals the history of this place nor the reasons why the neighbours used to complain.

The execution of the project is a good example of how scientific urban waste management is viable and decisively contributes to the construction of more sustainable urban models. Mumbai is currently starting to close down Deonar, the city’s oldest landfill site.

//Proposed by Borja M. Iglésias

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This project was launched in a period of cultural and social rebellion that decided to confront the campaign of violence perpetrated by the Mafia on a basis of social justice and a free-market economy. The initiative reinstates old farming traditions and knowledge with the goal of dignifying the land by creating autonomous, self-sufficient organic and artisan cooperatives that ensure the quality of the produce and boost the old flavour of Sicilian rural tradition. The project’s success led to its radius of action being extended to other southern Italian regions such as Calabria, Campania and Puglia.

The intervention in Alto Belice concerns the restoration of an area of more than 500 hectares seized from the Mafia and containing abandoned land, rural buildings and farmhouses. The farming activities involved local workers in the cultivation of the soil, with special attention being given to disadvantaged people who had the opportunity of being trained in the management tasks of the cooperatives. The project’s international scope increased pride in belonging to it and led to the determination to export not only the produce from the land but also the history of Sicily.

Volunteer camps were also created, where every year more than 5,000 young people enjoy workshops on working the land and talks with the families of Mafia victims, institutions and representatives from social cooperatives. Numerous schools participate in different initiatives to promote citizenship and cultural values to combat crime by embarking on honest economic activities. But citizens’ participation does not end here, as many other cultural initiatives have been developed that are linked to theatre, film, literature and sport.

Another essential objective is raising awareness among public opinion on values such as solidarity and human rights, which is why Libera Terra was authorized by institutional bodies to impart courses on democracy, legality and active citizenship. An international network of popular movements has also been developed, which are committed to justice and the application of Act 109/96, which encourages citizens to reuse seized Mafia assets. These assets are not directly managed by Libera Terra; rather, their use is promoted by the cooperatives in collaboration with the National Agency for the Administration and Allocation of Seized Assets.

Libera Terra fosters legislative proposals and amendments to act against the mafias while assisting the victims of these organizations through the Legal Office of Libera Terra, providing the citizens with tools in their fight against the Mafia through justice, memory, educational activities and the development of the time-honoured local economy.

//Proposed by Matteo Ferroni

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Bangladesh, with 153 million inhabitants, is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with 30% of the population living in conditions of extreme poverty, though it is true that the poverty rates have been dropping year after year since 2005. BRAC University, associated with BRAC, one of the most important NGOs worldwide, aspires to revert this situation by promoting the participation of architecture students in the development of urbanistic plans to combat the lack of potable water, power and air in the massed streets of the slums.

The slum community plays an outstanding role in the conception of the urban development plans, as these are designed with, for and by them. They are encouraged to express their needs, aspirations and opinions. The integration of these needs begins with establishing educational and recreational measures that involve the people in different initiatives such as the cleaning of the different areas, the dreamt-of design of their home and the planting of trees and plants that provide clean and healthy air. Recreational activities focus on fishing and canoes given that the slums are situated next to rivers, thus kindling the interest of the children. Meeting spaces have also been included with the goal of boosting the neighbourliness of the community and the understanding with the platforms for hope, Aashar Macha, and educational and recreational areas have been built in which to learn and watch films.

The slum inhabitants have great capacity for innovation for their daily survival, which is put to use when working on the various initiatives with imaginative and economical proposals or solutions. The urban development plans integrate sustainable facilities to make these communities self-sufficient, such as organic farms and fish farms, which provide eco-friendly production for their sustenance and allow them to sell the surplus in the markets. Together with the installation of water filters, recycling plants have been designed that prevent the build-up of waste, thus combating the risk of fire while creating a source of income and employment.

Through master courses and by encouraging the participation of local artisans, the residents are given the possibility of building and improving the facilities for themselves. This strengthens the feeling of effort and gratification converging on the development of a strong neighbourhood community, through houses that combine the community’s traditional knowledge and the volunteers’ professional knowledge, thus sharing knowledge between them.

Raising awareness of their city among the residents and making them participate in including the slums in it is a crucial task in the recovery of these spaces that have been segregated from the city. Inclusion will become a major social asset for the city thanks to the ingenuity of the slum population. The participation of the people in the different initiatives of BRAC University, through their contributions and ideas, sets them on an exciting path towards a change in paradigm in the evolution of these districts.

//Proposed by Ibai Rigby

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Kibera is one of Nairobi’s most highly populated settlements, but being in a poor region without resources, this great community has been marginalized in many aspects. The Map Kibera project sought to give a voice to this invisible and silenced community by creating a map of the suburb and digitally putting it in the world. Once the digital platform initiative was launched, it has served to amplify the community’s voices, raising awareness of the tough life in Kibera through its news items.

Map Kibera was started up in the year 2009 by Mikel Maron and Erica Hagen, collaborating with local grassroots organizations such as Carolina for Kibera. They decided to creatively use digital tools to increase the community’s influence and representation, empowering a group of local young people. They selected, trained and equipped around 15 youngsters to introduce them to the world of ICTs and teach them to formulate the programmes and use GPS devices. Once they were able to handle the computer and the applications, they were shown how to collect their community’s points of interest, and they were encouraged to put on the map whatever they considered suitable. With this information a map was produced by using the website, which permits creating and sharing maps in a simple way and free of charge.

Once the suburb’s streets were mapped, additional information on Kibera was added according to the topics that the youngsters wished to highlight in their community. One of the issues that was most important to them was security. On the map they entered the least safe points and those with the highest crime rates. The map was thus made more useful for the neighbours and reported to government agents any aspects that needed improving in the district. The map was printed to enable ongoing discussions on topics. It was distributed around the community and was also painted on street walls.
They then began to write small news items on events relating to discussed topics, establishing a text messaging system to instantly issue notifications on events. They were put on the map and illustrated with photos or video reports. The project thus began to grow, going from being a digital map to a dissemination platform called Voice of Kibera. Its website had special repercussion during the 2013 elections, as different volunteers came forward to follow and critically comment on the election campaign.

Through Map Kibera the suburb’s residents have gained in security, representation and influence. The project uncovered the district’s specific needs and pressure was brought to bear to promote urban planning changes such as the installation of an additional police office or the rehabilitation of public toilets. The project will be exported to other parts of Nairobi such as Mathare and Mukuru, as it has been a successful example of how new technologies can pull a community out of marginalization.

//Proposed by Borja Iglesias

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Written by on Jun 16,2014 in: |