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Students experience “Extreme Urbanism” first-hand on studio trip to Mumbai

Mumbai has one of the most expensive rental markets in the world, yet 40% of residents remain living in slums.

Mumbai has one of the most expensive rental markets in the world, yet 40% of residents remain living in slums.

The Spring 2018 option studio “Extreme Urbanism V: Exploring Hybrid Housing Typologies, Elphinstone State” explored questions around housing in one of the world's most congested cities: Mumbai. Led by Professor Rahul Mehrotra (MAUD ’87) and assisted by Teaching Associate Claudia Tomateo (MAUD ’17), the studio, along with the 2018 Loeb Fellows, traveled to Mumbai in February for a nine day visit. Tomateo provides an introduction and captions to photography by Dinesh Mehta.

Text by Claudia Tomateo (MAUD ’17), photography by Dinesh Mehta

Students in “Extreme Urbanism V” spent the semester investigating current housing challenges facing Mumbai, a city with both one of the most expensive rental markets in the world and 40% of residents living in slums. Issues of spatial inequality, the city’s policies for housing provision, and affordable housing building typologies on high-value land were considered. How to provide affordable housing in costly areas as an alternative for current “relocation” strategies in the outskirts of the city? How to design a profitable model for market-driven demands that would ensure spaces of equity and multiple income housing? During our studio trip in February, the group visited a few of Mumbai’s housing projects, the most contested areas in the city, and the slums. More importantly though, students immersed themselves into the culture as a way of understanding different approaches to living in and experiencing the city.

Morning in the Artist Village—Charles Correa. System of open spaces as an agent to provide services for low income population in the form of incremental housing.
Morning in the Artist Village: Charles Correa. A system of open spaces acts as an agent to provide services for low income population in the form of incremental housing.
What once was a cotton mill industrial area, is now one of the most contested parts of the city, high rise buildings are rapidly being developed.
What once was a cotton mill industrial area is now one of the most contested parts of the city with high-rise buildings rapidly being developed.
GSD students and Loeb Fellows meet in Mumbai.
GSD students and Loeb Fellows meet in Mumbai.
Lunch break.
Lunch break.
In Dharavi, a highly organized slum in the middle of the city, people live and labour. 500 acres hold 750 000 people and activities such as: pottery, recycling, leather manufacturing, fishing…
In Dharavi, a highly-organized slum in the middle of the city, people live and labor. Five hundred acres hold 750,000 people and activities such as: pottery, recycling, leather manufacturing, fishing, and more.
Children playing at a school in Dharavi.
Children playing at a school in Dharavi.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum holds an extensive collection narrating Indian history.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum holds an extensive collection narrating Indian history.
Elphinstone State, a warehouse district; it is primarily comprised of warehouses leased on a short tenure holding iron, steel and transport offices.
Elphinstone State, a warehouse district; it is primarily comprised of warehouses leased on a short tenure holding iron, steel, and transport offices.
Three hundred families live adjacent to existing warehouses. They do not have housing provision rights because of living over the sidewalk. Professor Rahul Mehrotra (center) talks to the group.
Three hundred families live adjacent to existing warehouses. They do not have housing provision rights because of living over the sidewalk. Professor Rahul Mehrotra (center) points out neighborhood features to the group.
Shirish Patel delivers final remarks after student presentations at the Urban Design Research Institute.
Civil Engineer Shirish Patel, one of the authors of 1965 Navi Mumbai Plan (third from left), and members of the GSD team listen to student presentations at the Urban Design Research Institute in Mumbai.