Document Type

Thesis Prep




Fall 2018


Architecture, Urbanism, Mumbai, Dharavi, Hybrid typology, Regeneration






Mumbai’s formal and informal components operate in interdependence. Matter from the formal is absorbed by the informal, where it is hacked, recycled and repurposed. The output, now lucrative, is spat back into the formal. For example, the city’s trash is collected, sorted and prepared by the informal as a commodity that is sold back into the formal. This cycle creates crucial nodes, where the formal relies heavily on the informal for its flexible and resilient systems.

Though these systems may be independent and engrained in Mumbai’s economy, the worker’s relation to the system’s matter reveals needs that the informal sector alone cannot meet. These are primarily social needs that derive from the constraints and disparities of informal work including education, security, and sanitation.

This thesis contends for a new, hybrid typology that brings together the layers of programs embedded in the flows of the informal economies. The purpose of a new typology is to mitigate the boundary and systems between the formal and informal. A hybrid typology derives its parameters by extracting information from existing flows at the nodes. It hosts the intersection of multiple systems and is an agent for stimulating the daily activities of informal workers. This new typology is envisioned as a piece of infrastructure that is constantly active, adapting to the nature of the ephemeral flows it contains.

The city is at stake. Without the nodes, Mumbai would drown in its own garbage, the economic flows would be halted globally, safety would be compromised and crime would prevail the streets. The cleansing activities of the informal lead to contaminating them-selves--calling for the need to galvanize these communities. This leads to investigating the role of the architect by “moving sharply away from the figure of the architect as an individual hero and replaces it with a much more collaborative approach” (Spatial Agency). Overlaying and mapping the operations of informal workers and their awareness of the city allows us to speculate the future implications, and perhaps lends a new lens to understand the dynamics of these economies.

Additional Information

Advisors: Julie Larsen, Britt Eversole, Sinead Mac Namara

Honors Capstone Reader: Brice Nordquist

Typographical errors were corrected by the inputter.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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