mHS CITY LAB works towards improving the quality of informally built urban housing in developing countries 

With the ongoing rapid urbanisation, informal settlements are offering affordable housing to millions today, including new migrants looking for livelihood opportunities in urban centers. Apart from the lack of basic services, these settlements suffer from poor quality construction which is often seismically unsafe.

Our vision is to help create socially inclusive cities by designing, testing and demonstrating a portfolio of viable solutions for safer housing for residents of informal settlements in developing countries. Our work in India helps residents to self-construct, and, thereby, to participate in the development of local neighbourhoods that will improve their safety, health and overall inclusion into cities.

We believe that inclusive cities are built on the foundations of DESIGN, COMMUNITY AND AFFORDABILITY


We develop creative solutions through an interdisciplinary and human centered design approach


We believe in realizing our projects in collaboration with the community and based on their feedback


We realize that financial sustainability is key to developing effective solutions and scaling up

Team and Advisors

mHS was established in 2009 by Rakhi Mehra (Rhode Scholar and HBS Graduate) and Marco Ferrario (Polytechnic of Milan) as a Social Venture with the aim to design scalable solutions to tackle urban poverty and in particular problems related to housing. Based in Delhi, mHS CITY LAB exists today as an inter-disciplinary team of designers, sociologists, economists and architects working towards the common goal of making our cities socially inclusive. The research and pilots here lead to innovative financial and technical products to support incremental housing and low income communities.

Awards & Recognition

Our work has been made possible through various grants and awards which makes it possible for us to continue to experiment with innovative approaches and achieve larger impact

Impact Award Innovation Challenge, 2015


Commendation prize for Cost-effective Rural/Urban Housing including Disaster Resistant Housing, HUDCO Design Awards, 2015

Clinton Global Initiative

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Member 2012

Yale Global Social Entrepreneurship program

Global Social Entrepreneurship (GSE) Course Partners for years 2010-11 and 2015-16

Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

National Design Museum Exhibition. Design for the Other 90%: Cities, 2011

Our Partners

We use an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to look for solutions. We have worked with various partners all of whom have played an important role in helping us scale up our work and to influence policy. Our partners have varied from architects , urban designers to research institutions and universities; from community workers, civil society organisations to public policy professionals; from micro finance institutions to international development agencies.


We are partnering with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT for testing the effectiveness of mason training programmes

A.V. Baliga Trust

We collaborated with the NGO for the Design Home Solutions project to facilitate access to the community and organize workshops to help introduce the idea of sustainable design

Indo Global Social Service Society

We partnered with IGSSS and DUSIB, in setting up a homeless shelter near the ISBT in Delhi in 2010, and in 2015-16 for the campaign on 100 Shelters for the homeless

Ford Foundation

We have been support by the Ford Foundation to document the link between housing and livelihoods, and the role of microfinance.


We have collaborated with Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure Planning & Engineering Center as task force member and resource partner on housing and urbanisation

We were awarded seed funding for Digital Tools project by’s Innovation Award fund in 2015


We are partnering with SEWA Delhi for our ongoing Digital Tools pilot in Sundernagri and have designed the SEWA Bharat community centre office in New Ashok Nagar

Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT)

We have collaborated with MHT as consultants on the study of resettlement communities in Delhi as well as the redevelopment of Sundernagri slum

Yale School of Management

mHS CITY LAB has been selected for the Yale Global Entrepreneurship program in 2010-11 and recently, in 2015-16 for guidance on the marketing and distribution strategies


We partnered with the MFI to bundle technical assistance with housing loans in the Design Home Solutions project at Mongolpuri, 2009-10

Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

Our pilot project Design Home Solutions in Mongolpuri was supported by Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

The World Bank

We have been able to provide support as consultants in the drafting and approval of the scheme to include technical assistance as an important pre-requisite for housing loans

Ashoka Innovators for the Public

We have developed an affordable ratings systems as consultants with Ashoka