5. Mumbai – more plans and conclusion
1. Kinetic City Now
2.Special growth and evolution under colonization – dramatic urbanization
3. Urban Spectacles? Urban Horror. Whose fault to blame?
4. Cleaning up the mess and attempts that failed
5. More plans and conclusion
A new vision for Mumbai appeared in 2003, it was another ideal to transform Mumbai into a ‘world class city’. However this time the initiative was not coming from the architects and urban planners but from business leaders and a global consultancy firm. The attention was mainly to turn Asia’ largest slum Dharavi into a commercial space. This can only happen by chasing away the poor with the help of the market, supplemented by evictions and demolitions. The focus on housing is no accident, over 60 percent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums, it is so desperate to solve this problem that the state reported to go back to the failed Backbay project and tried to relive it. The aspiration to become a world class city returned to this tried and tested tactic in proposing slum rehabilitation.
In the corporate and middle class visions of Dharavi, it is an obstacle in Mumbai’s path to achieving a world class status.
Dharavi was a swamp inhabited by fishing communities and later when poor migrants moved in from different parts od India made the land become habitable. In fact their resourcefulness transformed Dharavi into a flourishing economy. In fact it has zone of booming free enterprise and a tribute to the hard work of the migrants who come from everywhere in India.
Rahul Mehrotra, an architect describes that no master plan, urban design, zoning ordinance or construction law or expert knowledge whatsoever can claim any stake in the prosperity in Dharavi. The city has kinetic, he claims, because the city is in a ‘constant flux’. By that he refers to the vibrant urbanism of the formal city sharing urban space with the static urbanism of the formal static city, colliding with it.
The slum rehabilitation projects represent attempt to displace the kinetic city, to slaughter them and to replace them with something that is either ‘organized’ or ‘efficient’, in other words, mechanic and program defined. They have tried and failed, and if they succeeded, perhaps that will only bring Mumbai into a dull discipline, only to the delight of real estate magnates and the middle class heritage activists. Although the slums are looked down on as slums, the kinetic city survives in Dharavi and allowed the city to become beautifully layered. Sanitation problems, hygiene and density remain problems needed to be solved, but the solution should not be to demolish a naturally built city like this and almost to paste and ideal ‘good looking’ architecture upon the original space, but rather to improve the informal city not in the mind of helping it becoming formal and losing its identity, but to allow it to grow organically.
My aim is to have my research go full circle and looked into the Bombay under the British Rule, the Mumbai that ‘needs’ to become world class and the informal and formal cities, and what they should become.