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The Continuing Story of Kumbharwada

Part 2 Project 2015
Neal Whittaker
University of Strathclyde | UK
Kumbharwada, a historic area within the notorious Dharavi slum, is a sophisticated environment - built by, and attuned to the needs of its inhabitants, the Kumbhars, or potters, a caste of ceramicists who have lived on the site for generations. It is, however - in common with the other slums in central Mumbai - perennially threatened by developers, who covet the valuable land on which it stands. In an attempt to gradually render the situation untenable for the Kumbhars and thereby reclaim the land by stealth, investment in basic infrastructure is withheld by the government, perpetuating challenging day-to-day living conditions.

My thesis seeks to addr¬¬ess the situation by proposing a community owned brick making enterprise for Kumbharwada, which would, at a minimal start-up cost, generate an annual profit that could be used by the community to upgrade their own urban realm. The brickworks would evolve incrementally, referencing and reflecting the existing urban morphology of Kumbharwada, and complementing and enhancing the existing environment.

The whole undertaking is designed to strike a blow for genuine urban diversity over homogenisation and the on-going treatment of large swathes of Mumbai’s population as little more than hindrances to profitable development, and provoke discussion over what a genuinely sustainable future might look like for the city.

Neal Whittaker


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