Extreme Urbanism IV: Looking at Hyper Density – Dongri, Mumbai

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 dream 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 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 site is located in Dongri, a dense residential neighborhood in Mumbai that historically was largely inhabited by the Ismaili community. It houses the Jammat Khana, a religious space integral to its local identity. It is bound by major transit corridors on two sides and has a strong trade-oriented street culture. Students will be asked to take up an individual block within the site and reconfigure it while imagining more accommodative and pleasurable futures for the scale and uses of existing street networks.