Extreme Urbanism V: Exploring Hybrid Housing Typologies, Elphinstone Estate, Mumbai

This studio will focus on questions of housing in the city of Mumbai. 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. 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 socioeconomic 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 focus 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 in the condition of extreme urbanism in the context of Mumbai. Students will be exposed to making the bridge between policy and site-specific design as well as situating these imaginations in the broader context of the neighborhood and district scales.

The studio site will be located in Elphinstone Estate, a warehouse district in Mumbai that is situated in the port lands along the eastern waterfront of the city. In its existing use, the site is primarily comprised of warehouses, which are leased on a short tenure, and also iron, steel and transport offices. It is bound by a major thoroughfare and the arterial harbor railway line that runs north-south through the city. It is also connected to the major transit corridors on two sides, namely the Eastern expressway and Mohammed Ali road. Most of the sidewalks in the district have been encroached upon by unclassified hutments of workers who are informally employed in these warehouses. Students will be asked to take up an individual block within the site and reconfigure it while imagining more accommodative and equitable futures for the larger port lands district of south Mumbai.