Sep '06 - May '08
So I've given another stab at my thesis abstract. After reading it a few more times, I was a bit wary of the title i gave it, which spun some of the argument. This isn't to say that I wiped the idea of "unwanted" urban migration as actually an essential aspect of Mumbai's economic success - i still do - its just that in the end, it isn't exactly the question or hypothesis i want to put forward. It was more of a sociological, historical theorem, which while i find it interesting and of definite value, isn't going to by itself yield an understanding of space or built form. So after doing more research into Mumbai's economic breakdown, forecast, and the labor and resources required for the city's economic engines to keep running (which was rather depressing) I decided to approach the thesis from a slightly more speculative angle. Also, I ditched an upfront fascination with "third space" - while i still find it valuable as a method of analysis of space, it wasn't going to get me any closer to the specific physical thing i would create in the end. It's still in there, but i feel like i'm moving towards integrating it with the body of the investigation a bit more smoothly. I have, however, found De Certeau to be a valuable source from which to re-affirm my initial desires to reconcile static forms of program with more transient flows. So here goes, once again, constructive comments/criticism more than welcome.
AN INFRA URBAN MIGRATIONAL SYSTEM IN MUMBAI
“Space is not a “reflection of society,” it is society … They will express and perform the interests of the dominant class according to a given mode of production and to a specific mode of development. They will express and implement the power relationships of the state in an historically defined society … At the same time, spatial forms will be earmarked by the resistance from exploited classes, from oppressed subjects, and from dominated women. And the work of such a contradictory historical process on the space will be accomplished on an already inherited spatial form, the product of former history and the support of new interests, projects, protests, and dreams.” (De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life)
“Recognition of the collaborative nature of urbanism and the mutual dependence of formal institutions and curricular programmes with their outside – the informal and local economies and institutions of the city as extracurricular space …” (Krishnan et al., The City as Extracurricular Space: Re-Instituting Urban Pedagogy in South Asia)
This thesis studies the urban condition of Mumbai and is premised upon certain understandings regarding urban migration, new economic transformations, speculative development patterns, and imagined socio-cultural territories within the city. It seeks to analyze the potential intersection of these factors with regard to Mumbai’s future urban development and engages the potentials of trends of urbanization that have taken place during the city’s colonial history. If Colonial infrastructure was a physical armature that lent itself to flexible patterns of economy and inhabitation, can this “formalized informality” be mined as a strategic departure point in conceiving of future urban forms within the city? Additionally, are current avenues of discourse regarding the urban issues of Mumbai independently sufficient to fully engage the breadth of possible critical solutions? This thesis stages its investigation in predicted scenarios of economic fallout resulting from current patterns of self-destructive urban development in order to offer grounds for new speculations on solutions to current issues.
Given the forthcoming development of a city-wide rapid transit system linking the outer edges of Mumbai to its core, the programmatic departure point of the project will be twofold: the provision of facilities which can facilitate the reincorporation of displaced urban migrants from the city fringes to the core, as well as a new seat of city governance. Can the development of an urban project deploy formal strategies of public structure which allow for localized tactical intervention? Is it possible to create a framework for the co-existence of Mumbai’s seemingly bipolar formal and informal economic spheres? The goal of such a system is to create a constructive stage for civic exchange within the city, one that engages Mumbai’s many socio-economic territories while providing a robust public structure to withstand trends of destructive privatized development.