Olmsted Lecture: Niall Kirkwood, "MUMBAI elegy? matters of design in an arduous landscape"


Niall G. Kirkwood
Professor of Landscape Architecture and Technology, GSD

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 (formerly Bombay) 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.

MUMBAI elegy? pays homage to the City of Mumbai, in this recent period of social flux, terrorist attacks, overtaxed populations and economic ascendancy. As one of India's densest and most grossly inhospitable urban environments Mumbai's demise has been forecast on a regular basis yet it continues to exist (and even thrive in certain cases) as a civic locale of shifting ecologies, economies and design experimentation combining past and present, dreams and reality.

Niall G. Kirkwood is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Technology at the Harvard Design School. His recent teaching and research on Mumbai and India includes option design studios- GSD 1402 Maximum Mumbai, Minimum Mumbai: Repositioning the Cotton Textile Mill Lands, Girangaon, Central Mumbai, (Fall 2006), GSD 1402 Mumbai Margins: Rethinking the Island City, (Fall 2007), GSD 1401 Mumbai Metropolitan: Adapting the Township Lands (Fall 2008), and research seminars - GSD 9206 Reimagining India: A New Urban Enterprise? (Spring 2009) and GSD 9206 Mumbai Matter: assembling urban India (Fall 2009).

Media: Olmsted Lecture: Niall Kirkwood, "MUMBAI elegy? matters of design in an arduous landscape"

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