Betsy Daniel

Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2014


Mumbai, Waterfront, Symbiosis, Limits, Daniel






“Thus, the cities of the future, rather than being made out of glass and steel as an envisioned by earlier generations of urbanists, are instead largely constructed out of crude brick, straw, recycled plastic, cement block, and scrapwood.” 1 “[The market] is based on small scales and tiny increments of profit, yet it produces, cumulatively, a huge amount of wealth. It is massive yet disparaged, open yet feared, microscopic yet global. It is how much of the world survives, and how many people thrive, yet it is ignored and sometimes disparaged by most economists, business leaders, and politicians.”2 There is an estimated one billion slum dwellers living currently today and this number is estimated

to rise to two billion by 20303; therefore this seemingly shadowed informal city will be the forefront of agendas of planners, policy makers, architects, etc. These astounding figures are then shrouded by the magnitude of the informal economy/System D/the market where more than half of the employed people in the world work in some form of the informal economy whether it be off-the-books or self-employed without any permits or licensure. The informal economy/ System D/the market is exploded and amplified in the global south where the vendor occupies various frameworks, whether it be physical infrastructure or the street, creating an intensity that is lacking the abysses of the frameworks of the formal regulated world. The intensity is due to the inherent nature of the informal vendor, which is one of temporality, because without security of tenure and with the drive of survival entrepreneurship the vendor has the ability to shift, adapt and be flexible creating an urbanity that is an elastic condition. It has a powerful urban presence that is understudied and underrepresented in the architectural academia as well as by formal and legal constructs who have chosen to ignore these systems rather than address the issue at hand. If addressed it is planned according to a grand vision rather than a grand adjustment to the actual necessities of these constituents . The cries of what happened to the planners and what ever happened to urbanism ring loudly. Therefore the existing rules and images of the city have to be tweaked adapted, modified, and constructed to this ever present urban condition. The market through a temporal occupation and re-appropriation of contested space exists in a symbiotic relationship with the legal, economic and physical infrastructural frameworks. This temporal occupation is built through an incremental balance of internal relations which makes the market prone to manipulation, in reality a parasitic relationship. Using Mumbai’s Harbor and Front Bay as the site this symbiosis, by negotiating different constituents through a subversion of the controlling entity, can trigger a larger network of east west connections that can stabilize the market to create an urban evolution to promote future revitalization of the site. this contention will first be tested through the findings of the market/informal economy/System D of three case cities, Lima, Lagos and Mumbai and the ways in which the manifestations of the symbiosis (endosymbiosis, mutualism, parasitism) will play out. Through this study, conclusions will be made about the vitality and spatial potential of the lines between the formal and informal as means for subversion and exploitation. These methods will be used to explore the potential of Mumbai’s Harbor, a interstitial zone between the formal and informal means for subversion and exploitation. These methods will be used to explore the potential of Mumbai's harbor, an interstitial zone between the unplanned densified conglomerated Mumbai to the west and the planned New Mumbai to the east.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisers: Sarosh Anklesaria, Julie Larsen, Susan Henderson

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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