Urbanisation and Housing Studies

Coordinators -  Prasad Shetty

This cluster is engaged in exploring the emerging dynamics in the urbanisation process in India and its experience. The research in this cluster aims towards developing nuanced readings of urbanization processes, forms and politics in India beyond narratives of ‘crises’ and ‘collapse’ that build on thin quantitative and qualitative descriptions. Towards this end, this cluster has initiated studies around the form of life generated by the dynamics of land and urban form in Mumbai and the emerging contexts of urbanization in second cities in south India. Situating housing thus in the dynamics of urbanization is important for three reasons. First, it raises ontological questions about the idea of the house and home – What is a home? Where did the idea come from? What kind of life does it produce? Second, as one fundamental unit of urban space, it is indicative of how the house form shapes urban life, and therefore, raises architectural questions concerning space. And third, housing is a national and global question: architects, planners, policymakers, politicians, activists and civil society organizations, since the late nineteenth century, have consistently been at the centerstage of the debate around the housing question, primarily framed around the trope of affordability. In India, this debate is reflected in the discussions on cities during the era of Nehruvian five year plans as well as in the contemporary urban missions. The Urbanisation and Housing Studies cluster at CSS is engaged in addressing questions around urbanization and housing with newness and relevance. In generating new knowledge on housing through a set of collaborations that involve students, research associates and assistants, faculty, government agencies and civil society, the cluster aims towards becoming a resource ecology on urbanization and housing research on India with new data, knowledge, research papers, websites and training programmes.

The following initiatives are being undertaken under this cluster:

1. Urbanisation of Land / History of Mumbai’s Suburbs: Exploring Relationships between land / property dynamics and urban form / life.

2. Architecture & Urbanism in the Second Cities: Tracing the contours of architectural / urban form and production in the rapidly growing second cities.

3. Emerging Housing Contexts: Rethinking housing questions from an urbanisation perspective where constantly evolving urban dynamics are shaping housing contexts.

4. Repair & Retrofitting: Developing pedagogical frameworks for ‘improvement, upgradation, expansion, repair and retrofitting’ of existing built-form.

5. Making Home: A spatial history of Mumbai discussing the relationships between life and builtform across 2000 years of Mumbai’s history.