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Renewing Calcutta: Sustaining the Urban Ecology

Part 2 Project 2007
Kee Wei Hui
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Former City of Palaces, Chowringhee area was the commercial centre in British Calcutta. Yet today, Chowringhee area is visibly overcrowded.

Continuous in-migration from poorer neighbouring states widened the gap between large industries and the masses. Informal-sector industries in permanent or temporary hutments along sidewalks and slums providing low-cost small-scale artisan service activities under flexible credit arrangements, fill this gap.

Architectural strategy involve densification, yet ensuring sustainability of the existing informal sector that supports the multitude by building over existing hutments involved in such industries. This facilitates a transition towards urban renewal without eradication of livelihoods –the existing urban ecology.

Kee Wei Hui

There is lots of skill and deftness to this scheme. The scheme arises out from a question; how to renew while sustaining the urban ecology in Kolkata, India. The area is the Chowringhee area, once the center of British colonial Calcutta. Though encroached and besieged by dilapidated huts and other lean-to sheds, the once colonial suburb is now a highly densified thriving metropolitan area. It an area with a community, some transient in nature, held together by a series of complimentary crafts and trades. The thesis builds on Chatterjee’s studies on the subalterns and Foucault’ s enunciation of new enclosures and emerging commons. Given these understanding, the thesis postulates areas where “states of exceptions” are possible implying modifications to institutional rules and laws such that Kolkata’s growing population through inwards rural migration can be accommodated.

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