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Sites and Services: a Short History

This video will present a very short history of the sites-and-services approach, one of the most popular strategies for the development of incremental housing implemented over the last half-century. We will explore this approach from the perspective of spatial design, and use two case studies (Nefas Silk, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Charkop, Mumbai, India) to unpack some of the key design and managerial considerations one must take into account while planning for sustainable and affordable housing.

Video Summary



Dr Nelson Mota 

Associate Professor

Department of Management in the Built Environment

TU Delft

Nelson Mota is Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology. He holds a professional degree in Architecture (1998) and an advanced master's in Architecture, Territory and Memory (2006) from the Department of Architecture at University of Coimbra (Portugal) and a PhD (2014) from Delft University of Technology.


His doctoral dissertation “An Archaeology of the Ordinary. Rethinking the Architecture of Dwelling from CIAM to Siza” explores the relationship between vernacular social and spatial practices and the architecture of dwelling. Nelson is a founding partner of the architectural office comoco arquitectos, winner of the Portuguese National Prize for Architecture in Wood in 2013.


Rohan Varma

PhD Candidate

Department of Management in the Built Environment

TU Delft

Rohan Varma is an architect and doctoral researcher based both in Mumbai and Amsterdam. He studied at the KRVIA, Mumbai, and worked for Charles Correa for two years before receiving his Master's in Architecture with honourable mention from the TU Delft in the Netherlands.


Rohan is a 2011 Tata and Mahindra Scholar and was nominated for the 2014 Archiprix Award. Currently, Varma combines his work as a practising architect with his work at the TU Delft where he is a doctoral candidate and tutor.

Additional Information

  • Mota, N. (2021). Incremental Housing: A Short History of an Idea. In L. Medrano, L. Recamán, & T. Avermaete (Eds.), The New Urban Condition: Criticism and Theory from Architecture and Urbanism (1st edition, pp. 160–182). Routledge.

  • Owens, K. E., Gulyani, S., & Rizvi, A. (2018). Success when we deemed it failure? Revisiting sites and services projects in Mumbai and Chennai 20 years later. World Development, 106, 260–272.

  • Varma, R., & Sha, K. (2019). Profit Versus People. The Struggle for Inclusion in Mumbai. In R. Rocco & J. van Ballegooijen (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanization. Routledge.

  • Reinhard Goethert - Incremental Housing


  • Sameep Padora, Mumbai's Architecture is Killing Us!!



  • Caminos, H., & Goethert, R. (1978). Urbanization Primer. The MIT Press.

  • Padora, S. (2016). In The Name of Housing, A Study of 11 Projects In Mumbai. Urban Design Research Institute.

  • The World Bank - Eastern Africa Projects Department. (1982). Staff Appraisal Report. Ethiopia Urban Development Project [Staff appraisal report]. The World Bank.

  • Van der Linden, J. (1986). The Sites and Services Approach Renewed. Solution or Stopgap to the Third World Housing Shortage? Gower.

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