Housing Themselves : Transformations, Modernisation and Spatial qualities in Informal Settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Abstract: This thesis is an attempt to address issues of housingtransformation in informal settlements. Transformation ofhouses is seen to be associated with modernisation forceswhereby people adapt their houses to suit their needs anddesires. On one hand the desire to own a“modernhouse”may lead to deterioration of spatial qualities, onthe other hand fulfilment of the desire may contribute to themodernisation of urban settlements. The informal settlement ofHanna Nassif was chosen as a case study to illustrate theprocess of housing transformations in informal settlement.Knowledge on the transformation processes serves as animportant tool to address issues of spatial qualities, housingmodernisation, actors in the processes of transformation anduse of space.The results show that there is a wide range oftransformation activities that have been taking place in termsof extensions and alterations. The desire to modernise theirhouses impels developers to use modern building materials. Insome instances houses constructed with traditional buildingmaterials are replaced with industrially produced materials.Through transformation processes new house types emerge. Thestudy identifies problems as well as positive aspectsassociated with the whole process of housing transformation.The positive aspects are those of increased indoor space,increase of rooms for renting and in other cases separation offunctions. The problems emerging from this process include:decrease of outdoor space, increase of housing density,blockage of ventilation and light in the transformedhouses.The study concludes that housing transformation being oneway in which lowincome earners strive to get access to housingdeserves government support, particularly in the absence ofalternative housing supply. It is further observed that todatemany urban dwellers have managed to secure housing as a directresult of house extensions effected by house owners. The houseextensions are being carried out outside the established formalplanning regulations. It is in the light of these developmentsthat there is a cause for government intervention to guidehousing development processes in informal settlements.Professionals like planners and architects should also assume arole for quality and sustainability to prevail. The study alsosuggests specific problem areas for further investigation.Key words:Tanzania, housing transformation, informalsettlements, modernisation, spatial qualities and housetypes.