Kali Marnane, a University of Queensland PhD architecture student, has achieved international recognition for her recent research. Her study won an award for the best student paper at the 50th Environmental Design Research Association.

To research her paper, Marnane spent six months in India in an attempt to understand the origins and forms of informal settlements in Ahmedabad, the largest city in the state of Gujarat. Marnane concluded that attempts to redevelop informal settlements with apartment buildings could cause more harm than good.

Government-led redevelopment plans aimed to replace existing informal settlements with western-style apartment blocks of seven to eight floors. “In other projects this model has provided essential utilities and greater security of tenure, however, the socio-cultural and economic outcomes were often worse than in the informal settlements,” said Marnane.

The PhD student explored ”the human side of why people are living in an informal settlement, and why the built environment has been created in this way.” Marnane says we must ”listen to the stories of people whose lives are different to ours, to move beyond assumptions and stereotypes and build resilient, inclusive communities.”

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