“Dharavi is its extraordinary conundrum and kaleidoscopic alterations offers a multiplicity of investigative trajectories that combine and separate, creating never-stable but always interrelated patterns.” -Contested Urbanism

Dharavi is an informal settlement that started with the village of Koliwada and eventually spread out to 175 ha of slum dwellings. It is home to a population of around 1.5 million and one of Asia’s largest slums. It comprises a myriad of multifunctional living units, open spaces, organic clusters, commercial, institutional, industrial and social zones and has emerged as a symbol of informal urbanism.

The incremental evolution of the built and adaptability of the settlement over time gives a certain characteristic to the settlement which has a lot of potential for ambitious and passionate designers. Following is a list of different Dharavi redevelopment concepts proposed for the settlement by innovative architects and planners across the globe.

1. DCLT- Dharavi Community Land Trust | Dharavi Redevelopment

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A tripartite Governance for Dharavi Community Land Trust © www.plural.org.in

Idea by: Plural and Kriva

The idea explores the hypothesis ‘How would the residents (of Dharavi) envision their future if they had their rights?’ Through a collaborative approach, it introduces the concept of ‘Community Land Trust’ intending to tackle the most important factor contributing to the problem and also the potential solution- Land. Plural claims the idea can be further extended to the creation of affordable housing in any brownfield neighborhood.

For more information: https://www.plural.org.in/reinventing-dharavi

2. Shipping Container Skyscraper

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Conceptual view of a tower ©www.archdaily.com

Idea by: Ganti + Associates (GA) Designs

The idea utilizes the port of Mumbai and the geographic configuration of the site to produce a vertical settlement made of a repetitive module of shipping containers. The 100 m high vertical tower would consist of self-supported container clusters with steel girders at every 8 stories. The design identifies with the modular, recyclable character of Dharavi and also features recycled terracotta jalis locally produced at Kumbharwada, the potter’s community of Dharavi.

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Schematic plan of the design ©www.archdaily.com

For more information: https://www.archdaily.com/772414/ga-designs-radical-shipping-container-skyscraper-for-mumbai-slum

3. Dharavi Infrastructure Improvement Trust 

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Conceptualisation of DIIT ©reinventingdharavi.org

Idea by: Smita Singh (India), Aman Luthra (India), Mike Hardin (USA), Magdalena Gajewska (Poland), Geroge Attokaran (India), Pranay Manocha (India).

This idea acknowledges Dharavi’s strategic location concerning the urban context of Mumbai and proposes an incremental improvement plan as a middle ground between the greenfield and conservative struggle. Secondly, it aims to develop a participatory design practice where the conceptualization or at least the finalization of the development comes from its people. The team combined both these aspects into a platform which they named the Dharavi Infrastructure Improvement Trust. The trust aims at an improvement strategy in ‘small’ and large moves like installing Bathroom towers and alternative strategies for compact urban living.

For more information: https://reinventingdharavi.org/awards.php)

4. ReDharavi | Dharavi Redevelopment

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Proposed plan for the redevelopment of Sector-IV of Dharavi ©knowyourcity.info

Idea by: Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers, and Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies

After the residents of Dharavi protested the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan 2004, conceived by architect Mukesh Mehta based following a 2003 report by McKinsey, new organizations came to light for the specific purpose of redeveloping Dharavi while catering to the interests of its residents. The Alternative Strategy developed and proposed followed consultations by the residents- nagars (neighborhoods) based on shared religion or working conditions supported by a strong transportation network. Through careful consideration of the living and working conditions of the residents, new housing typologies were developed.

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Housing typologies under the alternative strategies ©knowyourcity.info

For more information: https://knowyourcity.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ReDharavi1.pdf

5. Inclusive Neutrality

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The ‘Inclusive neutrality’ concept ©reinventingdharavi.org

Idea by: Atelier Anonyme, Degree Zero, Troisième Paysage and 3×3 design

This concept aims to cater to both the people’s interest and that of the economic stakeholders of the project. The designers acknowledge how the industrial-cum-residential Dharavi settlements are in stark contrast with the urban models of the west. It features low-rise settlements with housing typologies which are a hybrid of work and living spaces while featuring community spaces as well.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/AnsalUniversity/posts/making-mark-internationally-prof-amrita-madan-faculty-at-sushant-school-of-art-a/887835604572738/

6. Containscrapper

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View of the Containscrappers ©crgarchitects.com

Idea by: CRG Architects

The whole site is divided into 2 towers rising to a 100m carefully placed according to the shape and geography of the site. This idea is an ambitious one, which aims to provide a standard of living to the residents of Dharavi and also add to the already dynamic skyline of the city. Built from recycled shipping containers, it features vertical gardens and mesmerizing views. The facades are color-coded according to the original color of the container, responding to the rate of heat on each side- warm on the south and cold colors on the north side.

For more information: https://www.crgarchitects.com/containscraper

7. The Game is On!

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Converting squares into neighborhood centers ©felixx.nl
8 Conceptual plans for Dharavi redevelopment by innovative architects - Sheet13
Redesigning the streetscape ©felixx.nl

Idea by: Felixx + Studio OxL Architects

This idea aims at upgrading public spaces within the settlement to make it a deprived neighborhood in the city rather than an isolated ‘island of poverty’. The three-tier strategy focuses on infrastructure and mobility, water and sanitation, and regeneration and development. All these factors are integrated into the streetscape of the city which connects neighborhoods, businesses, and social activities. The central squares created in the proposal aim to establish social and economic focal points and act as identity carriers for every community of Dharavi.

For more information: https://www.felixx.nl/projects/dharavi-mumbai.html

8. Smart Dharavi | Dharavi Redevelopment

Conceptual View of the Smart Dharavi Redevelopment project ©com
Conceptual View of the Smart Dharavi Redevelopment project ©com

Idea by: Silvia Soonets

This development concept is based on the work-place relationship characteristic of Dharavi- where the street is the primary space and no design element is limited to just one function- be it a staircase, a window, or even a roof. Every inch is utilized to its maximum capacity. It incorporates a low rise ‘new’ Dharavi ground with four-story structures, sustained economically by a high-rise ground which will sell Real Estate. Combining the two, the plan hopes to achieve a symbiosis between both the different worlds and hence promote equality within the difference, and cooperation on fair distribution.

For more information: https://issuu.com/ssoonets/docs/51ecf3-booklet-f


Pursuing his bachelors’ degree of architecture, he is still exploring whatis it exactly that draws him to it. He believes that every story is worth knowing and wants to exchange them with the world irrespective of the form- brush strokes, words, musical notes or bricks and mortar.