Extreme Urbanism 9 – Imagining Housing as Urban Form

In recent years, housing has become an extremely scarce commodity in Mumbai. In 2007, Mumbai was the sixth most expensive city globally to rent an apartment. A 2013 report by Knight Frank, a global reality consultancy, lists Mumbai as the most unaffordable housing market in the country with 29% of its under-construction dwelling units exceeding the 10 million rupee mark. Reports estimate that approximately 57 percent of the total households in the city live in single room tenements while the 2011 census estimates that 40 percent of the city’s population lives in slums. Exponential real estate values coupled with a burgeoning population and lack of investment in affordable housing have created an acute housing shortage in the city. Owning a house in central areas of Mumbai has become a distant aspiration not just for the low income households but also for the middle class.

In the impulse to solve this problem, most policy privileges disproportionate FAR allocations (referred to as F.S.I in Mumbai) to the perceived carrying capacities of these areas. High FAR incentives given for redevelopment of existing housing stock have doubled the densities on existing plot areas without a corresponding augmentation of urban services. Such plot-by-plot redevelopment undertakings have fragmented the urban grain and created further socio-economic dichotomies. This development paradigm is disruptive to the historic fabric and existing community formations in the city.

This studio will address the challenge of strategically and advantageously leveraging the existing extremes of metropolitan and parcel-scaled development policies. It will investigate development promoted by this approach through a series of transects in the Inner City of Mumbai and explore strategies to reinforce and extend existing urban fabrics, making these transitions easier for local communities. The studio will be focused on developing typologies for affordable housing on high value land in Mumbai. Questions of hybridity, mixed use and high density will be among the several issues that the studio will grapple with the condition of extreme urbanism in the context of Mumbai. The design development will be informed by a fully realized real estate development proposal that meets the tests of financial viability and advancement of beneficial spatial, social, and environmental outcomes. The studio emphasizes the need for design to be embedded within the larger development practices of the city where real estate development has emerged as an important instrument of urban development. Therefore, the studio emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of real estate, weaving together financial, market, regulatory, political, environmental, and contextual analyses into physical design and planning solutions in order to generative positive real estate outcomes. The studio asks students to utilize the skills and knowledge of real estate professionals, designers, and planners to transform how the built environment is produced and consumed.