Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (129.04 MB)

Living on the Edge - Defining Shipbreaking at the Edge of Globalisation in Alang, India

Download (129.04 MB)
Version 2 2022-05-19, 01:55
Version 1 2021-11-16, 01:09
posted on 2022-05-19, 01:55 authored by Dromgool, Edward

Forty thousand men on the coastline of Alang, India, dismantle a large portion of the world’s discarded ships in a process referred to as shipbreaking. The discarded vessels are dismantled piece by piece, with no more than a gas torch and physical labour in a country with little to no regulations on the rules of labour or environmental protection. Workers of the shipbreaking yards live in slum dwellings, within a toxic landscape of petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, lead paint and asbestos; all are toxic by-products of globalised industrialisation. As a result of the extreme work and poor housing conditions, the impoverished inhabitants are at high risk of life threatening diseases which commonly result in death. On the shipbreaking yard alone, an average of sixteen deaths per year occur as a result of the extremely hazardous working conditions. While the need to dismantle and recycle ships will not disappear any time soon, it is imperative that current practices become safe to both workers and the environment.  This thesis outlines a design project that introduces the creation of an ecosystem within the shipbreaking community of Alang by introducing many interconnected systems that allow for self-sufficiency. Inspired by concepts of bio-mimicry, the project provides the means to capture toxins safely using naturally produced materials; creates community, family based housing that replaces the current housing slums; and modernises the shipbreaking process by implementing a cyclical ecosystem that capitalises on the regions natural resources. By making the process of shipbreaking environmentally safe and creating a hazard free, more productive work environment, this project suggests that a business practice that is unwanted and hidden can be productive and economically viable.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Sweet, Kevin