Published by Taylor & Francis Online
Authors: Tania Sharmin and Rihab Khalid
This paper presents a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of a participatory design project for a marginalized low-income community in Ahmedabad, India. Through a mixed-methods socio-technical approach, it presents an in-depth qualitative assessment of the architectural design and homeowners’ use of and satisfaction with domestic spaces. Analysis shows that although a participatory design approach can lead to improved user satisfaction, it can have contradictory environmental and sustainability outcomes in low-income communities due to homeowner’s limited environmental awareness, aspirations for improved social standing, and financial constraints. Findings show that combining POE with participatory design can help recognize occupants’ housing needs while also revealing various hierarchical agencies in participation and power dynamics within the built environment. It further substantiates the need for a socio-technical approach in POE that integrates environmental standards with occupants’ contextual socio-cultural needs and incorporates plans for future socio-economic growth, while providing assessment of the design process itself and engagement with various stakeholders. The study shows that successful Building Performance Evaluations (BPE) should incorporate bottom-up participation through incremental, and affordable demonstration projects in housing developments that take account of localized socio-cultural contexts and allow more inclusive development through stakeholder integration for long-term sustainable transitions.