Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Mumbai's Slums are Villages

While browsing through the web and the URBZ webpages : , i came across this really interesting article on Mumbai's development on the Village and the Slum front. The essay in the article very interestingly points out the growth of these urban formats through the times of the Portuguese and then the British. The Author takes the example of Khotachiwadi as a village that was termed as a slum, by the British Authorities so that it can fulfill its dream of larger urban development in the ares. Khotachiwadi and such other Hamlets in Bandra like Ranwar (the one i am studying), Vasai, Thane etc., speak of a distinct history and is a subject of study for a lot of Urban Planners, Designers etc. These Hamlets constituted a format of living and have a very distinct texture to themselves.
read on for more on the article

Why Mumbai's Slums are Villages:
Mumbai’s history reflects two distinct phases. One is the south-oriented story that starts with the development of the docks by the British in the seventeenth century. The other is an older, northern-bound story that starts with the Portuguese conquest and domination of the regions around Vasai village in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The essay argues that the point of intersection of these histories is one that can potentially explain the overwhelming presence of poor, infrastructure deprived habitats – often referred to as slums – that dominate the landscape of the city.
more on :’s-slums-are-villages/comment-page-1/#comment-3921


  1. I'll just give some random thoughts...
    I like the Slum/village article. Its the most relevant article. Khotachiwadi is clearly an example you can look at, as it seems parallel to Ranwar. How these r still communities as opposed to the alienating metropolis, where we do not even know our neighbor's names anymore!

    Where I stay currently is a redevelopement of a chawl...its amusing to see that they keep their doors open...cook together....send food to each others's houses n in Diwali cook the snacks communally. They have not yet reached the higher levels of privacy that we value fiercely!... So not only do u need to come to a public space, but their life is more public in general...which I think also happens in small-knit communities.

    Regarding economic sustenance, like the article mentions Dharavi and like the Masala factory in Ranwar, many household businesses go a long way and to generate good businesses out of small ideas n little investments.It is a good idea. As everywhere in Bombay, land sharks r way too powerful n may sweep these people away.

    Dharavi is a foremost example of small scale industries. However, Dharavi lacks the visual character or singular community base like Ranwar. But this factor would go a long way n is the only way Ranwar can live more. Perhaps you could document any other home-run businesses in the district. Look at demographics, literacy levels, lifestyles.

    There is a book by UDRI called Public Spaces Bombay...which is a good read n can provide some cues about public spaces, which I thinnk esp in a small community like Ranwar r still relevant.

    For Ranwar to sustain amidst huge construction n developement is difficult. Perhaps, you could also look out of India, for case studies. Where a small village exists amidst a huge metropolis n chaos.

    Right now, you are studying space -PHYSICALLY, VISUALLY n you have also started working on typical elements.

    Apart from Khotachiwadi, any gaothan in Bombay or India, I think it will helpful to gather a better perspective by a successful project of this nature outside India. Where the contrast between a small community and a big city is as brutal. How have they achieved that balance between conserving heritage and it's economical functioning.

    A coherent solution needs to b formulated, so it becomes this powerful unified mass with a huge identity.

    Fell free to pick n ignore whatever you may feel important, coz I'm giving fragmented views which r just occurring to me :)

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