Maximum Mumbai, Minimum Mumbai: Repositioning the Cotton Textile Mill Lands, Girangaon, Central Mumbai, India

\”There will soon be more people living in the city of Bombay (Mumbai) than on the continent of Australia. URBS PRIMA IN INDUS reads the plaque outside the Gateway of India. It is also the Urbs Prima in Mundis, at least in one area, the first test of the vitality of a city: the number of people living in it. With 14 million people, Bombay is the biggest city on the planet of a race of city dwellers. Bombay is the future of urban civilization on the planet. God help us.\”Suketu Mehta fromMaximum City, Bombay Lost and Found.2004IntroductionIn the funded MAXIMUM MUMBAI, MINIMUM MUMBAI (1) studio the class will consider the fate of 600 acres (240 hectares) of lands generated by the closure and current abandonment of 58 historic cotton textile mills in the center of the City of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India. Students will characterize the legacy and magnitude of the Mill lands in Mumbai, consider their influence on the landscape of the present and emerging city and prepare individual design proposals at a number of levels that shape their subsequent future adaptation, repositioning and recovery. At the heart of the studio is an exploration of environmental processes as a generator of form in urban conditions with limited resources but with extremes of population density, physical deterioration and spatial demarcation. Perched on the sea and yet anchored to the soil of the Indian Continent, fabulously rich yet achingly poor, a historic trading seaport and now a modern global corporate center as well as home to multiple local street micro-enterprises, grossly overcrowded with social fragmentation and yet tolerant of the multiplicity of diverse ethnic backgrounds and religions, with a core of civic landscapes and heritage buildings yet overwhelmed with an overburdened infrastructure – sewers, water supply, roads and railways and proliferated with slums on marginal lands, the City of Mumbai still holds sway as India\’s industrial and financial capital- one that is geographically rich, ecologically adaptive, creative, industrious, stressed- a dense complex unsanitary urban land set in a sultry environment, drenched by the monsoon rains and currently in economic and cultural flux with \”dizzying promise and turbocharged ambition.\”(2) With the shifting fortunes of the City of Mumbai and the surrounding region (forty percent of India\’s taxes come from the city alone, and half of India\’s international trade passes through its port), municipal planning and engineering approaches have been advanced to structure future growth, improve the quality of civic life, to lessen the overwhelming congestion in the urban core as well as to address a legacy of issues caused by the need to relieve overcrowding in the city. The major issues include the need for basic shelter for over half the population and the lack of basic sanitation, flood controls, public transportation linkages (half of Mumbai\’s population commute from far-flung suburbs to downtown offices, banks and factories) and public access to open space. In addition global shifts in the workplace have removed traditional industries (including the cotton textile industry itself) from the core of the city, isolating the workforce and importantly for this studio rendering significant tracts of land in Central Mumbai available for reconsideration and recovery. The Mill lands because of their labor history, their strategic location in the city core and major disagreements over the changing nature of their projected futures between development agencies and environmentalists among others has led in recently to intense public and governmental scrutiny of these sites. The enactment of Development Control Regulation No. 58 (DCR 58) framed by the State in terms of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 [the MRTP Act] has, after a number of legal battles, led to the Supreme Court of India upholding regulations covering the