MUMBAI METROPOLITAN: Adapting the Airport Lands, Mumbai, India

AbstractThe sponsored studio MUMBAI METROPOLITAN will reconsider the Greater Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and India\’s densest and most grossly inhospitable urban fabric as part of a more livable and sustainable metropolitan landscape and a locale of shifting civic ecologies, local and global economies and residential environments.A series of design propositions will be made and tested for the adaptation of lands currently occupied by the 1,450-acre Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport soon to be modernized and reconfigured. A program for new residential townships will be proposed in the available land alongside additional infrastructure, open space and industrial initiatives.The Airport Lands are currently surrounded by or under the influence of inadequate road infrastructure, working factories, existing residential townships, 200 acres of slum housing in the adjacent Azadnagar shantytown and to the south-east declining mangrove preserves alongside the Mithi River. In particular the class will explore the relationship of this fast emerging yet haphazard Metropolitan landscape in the north and northeast of Greater Mumbai to the surrounding context and to core connections in the Island City to the south. The regeneration of existing land, open space and infrastructure for housing will be proposed in opposition to the current private sector-led approach to the expansion of the Island City through wholesale demolition and reconstruction on public lands. The likely outcome of this approach remains to be tested, especially in combination with, and from a local perspective and it will be a central part of the studio analysis to research and critique current approaches to redevelopment and planning that support private and community activities, including satisfaction of local aims and ambitions, as it will be to advance an overall attitude to the growth of the Metropolitan area.The studio pedagogy will therefore be focused on three complementary activities; approaches to the adaptive reuse of current public lands, buildings and infrastructure, the development of personal design agendas on local cultural, work, family and recreational practices, and strategies to address the broader environmental and ethical concerns of water, waste and energy infrastructure. It is expected that a range of studio tools will be explored including video, digital model-making as well as low-technology approaches such as street-flyers and field handbooks. A funded class trip to Mumbai and the surrounding metropolitan area will take place in early October. A publication will be prepared in Spring 2009 documenting the results of the studio. The studio is open to eligible students from all GSD departments and programs. The City by the SeaMumbai has been identified as a \”gateway\” world city in Ham de Blij\’s recent publication The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny and Globalization in terms of the influx of global companies and as an entry point into India for overseas commercial enterprises in communications, finance and pharmaceuticals. It is also home to the wealth, dreams, talent and creativity of local industrialists, hawkers, entrepreneurs, gangsters, artists, traders, millionaires, trash collectors, film stars, fishermen and paupers and the multiple residents and rural immigrants who work in the teeming offices and street and home businesses. It is a modern city of ambition, progress, density, poverty, passion and pollution, teeming with industry and the capacity for change all set within a lush, verdant yet vulnerable peninsula landscape of mangroves, tidal estuaries and forests. For the purposes of the studio we will hypothesize that no single viewpoint can claim ascendancy and that any designer whether at the scale of the building, landscape or urban fabric must be open to the needs, desires, realities of the varying population(s) who co-exist within the same urban spaces, the pr