Mumbai Margins: Rethinking the Island City

Pavements, slums, chawls, colonies, estates as landscapes of renewal\”…many of Bombay\’s (Mumbai) problems are the result not of poverty as such but of the reverse- the cities relative affluence and attractiveness to economic migrants.\” City of Gold, The Biography of Bombay Gillian Tindall, 1982 \”The island city of Bombay (Mumbai) has a density of 17,550 people per square mile. Some parts of central Bombay have a population density of 1 million people per square mile. This is the highest number of individuals massed together at any spot in the world.\” Maximum City Bombay Lost and Found Suketa Mehta, 2004\”The way things are moving the city will collapse very soon. Bombay (Mumbai) is decaying and nobody seems to have a clear idea of how to stop this.\” Narinder Nayar, Chairman, Bombay First, 2003ABSTRACTThe studio will reconsider the Island City of Mumbai as a more livable and sustainable metropolitan landscape. In particular students will comprehensively examine the urban renewal of housing district lands, infrastructure, and public open space within a highly constrained setting, conflicted with severe environmental and overcrowding problems yet with timely opportunities to address the increasing population and their distribution within the metropolitan area. The aim of the studio will be to generate, test and demonstrate a design model or models that conform to the needs of renewal and the urban landscape within housing districts in the Island City and to do so from the perspective of private/public partnerships, including satisfaction of local aims and perspectives of residents, developers and municipal authorities. The motivation behind the study is to inform sustainable long term planning in the Metropolitan area that will culminate in the completion of the new Master Plan in 2011. The studio will explore within the design models the concept of urban \”margins\” as a geographical, ecological and physical condition within the city fabric and a driving force in shaping the built environment as well as the outcome of long standing economic and social transactions in the city. A sponsored field trip to Mumbai will take place early in the semester and the studio is open to eligible students from all GSD departments and programs.OVERVIEWWhat is necessary? That was the unspoken but implied and unavoidable question everywhere in India. When I understood that, a great many of the characteristically perplexing aspects of public life become comprehensible from the acceptance of sprawling slums by city authorities, to the freedom that cows had to roam at random in the midst of traffic; from the toleration of beggars on the streets, to the concatenate complexity of the bureaucracies; and from the gorgeous, unashamed escapism of Bollywood movies, to the accommodation of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Tibet, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa and Bangladesh, in a country that was already too crowded with sorrows and needs of its own.\” Shantaram: A Novel Gregory David Roberts, 2003What is Necessary?The words above harmoniously resonate with, and reconcile, a hard-worked land; a city encumbered by fragile yet resilient populations, bestowed with a sacredness by many, constrained by the sea, saturated with the sweat of labor, and shaped by monsoons and real estate.India is in a period of rapid economic growth and expansion of population in its mega-cities. These metropolitan centers are also home to poor quality or totally inadequate infrastructure, overcrowded living conditions, enormous slums, decaying buildings and threadbare open space and are struggling to keep pace with the ever increasing demands for basic services at all levels of society. An over-archin