SD.20.003 – Building sustainable and inclusive urban futures: incremental housing and city-making flows in the Global South (HOUSEFLOW)

Route: Sustainable development goals for inclusive global development

Cluster question: 045 What are the implications and challenges associated with worldwide urbanisation?

Incremental housing is a key driver of urbanisation worldwide. HOUSEFLOW explores incremental building practices as a key vantage point to understand socially-relevant, just, inclusive and realistic solutions for persistent housing shortages, particularly in the Global South. A key challenge is how to better align incremental housing practices with formal urban development and planning done by the state, often in collaboration with international organisations and the private sector. This is very urgent, given the scale of the housing challenge in the Global South, the global climate and sustainability agenda and health crisis. Approaches beyond the local scale are required. NWA routes on SDGs and smart, liveable cities reflect the global call for sustainable cities. However, there is a lack of hands-on experience on how this might match with dominant practices of incrementalism. In HOUSEFLOW, researchers, practitioners and private partners will create, share, and apply knowledge to combine the flexibility, adaptability and technological innovations of incremental housing with the advantages of long-term, strategic, city-wide planning to reach sustainable and inclusive urban development. By carrying out participatory action research (in collaboration with local partners) in three secondary cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, HOUSEFLOW will help global donors, urban planners, infrastructure providers, developers, architects, local governments, and civil society organisations to improve incremental housing policy and practice. CityLabs, an interactive visualisation tool, pilot interventions, a Massive Online Open Course and other collaborative formats will facilitate practical knowledge applications and sharing of best practices. In addition, HOUSEFLOW will identify ways to foster innovation such as core housing, decentralized infrastructures and vertical incrementalism. By mapping the flows and systems of design, building materials, labour, finance and infrastructure around incremental housing, HOUSEFLOW will identify what combinations between the formal and informal aspects and actors of incremental housing work best along the entire value chain.


Global South, Incremental housing, informality, urban development, urban planning

Other organisations

African Center for Cities, Erasmus Universiteit (EUR), Habitat for Humanity, iBUILD, Nai010, Shack, Slum Dwellers International, SPARC, Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD), UN-Habitat


Organisation Utrecht University (UU)
Name Dr. H.J. (Femke) van Noorloos