An open international ideas contest has been announced for an innovative mixed-income community development on one of Mumbai’s last undeveloped segments of coastline (Deadline: 30 April)
Open to multidisciplinary teams of up to four members, the anonymous competition seeks radical ideas for a new socially inclusive residential scheme that could encourage integration between established residents of the densely populated Worli Koliwada peninsula and more affluent newcomers.
The Reside Mumbai call for ideas, organised by Arch Out Loud, aims to provide alternative visions for the future of the urban fishing village, which is inhabited by the descendants of Mumbai’s original settlers but is increasingly under threat from encroaching high-rise development. Proposals that protect and enhance existing public spaces, preserve historic urban fabric, consider the impact of annual monsoons, and respond to the site’s dramatic views are encouraged.
Worli Koliwada, Mumbai
According to the brief: ‘Rapid urban growth and growing inequality have created a global crisis in housing that increasingly segregates the rich from the poor. Though not fully understood, there is a clear and parallel relationship between the size of a city and its level of socio-economic disparity: the larger the city, the less equal it tends to be.
‘Physical and social segregation, which both reflects and perpetuates socio-economic disparity within a city, is a growing concern in cities worldwide – including Mumbai. The long-term success of a city depends on the collective well-being of all its inhabitants. To what extent can architecture support social inclusion and break down spatial segregation within the megacity?’
Mumbai is on India’s west coast at the site of a deep natural harbour. It is the country’s largest city with an urban population of 21.4 million people. More than half the city’s inhabitants live in slums and Mumbai’s house price-to-income ratio is the second highest in the world.
Ongoing large-scale public-private redevelopments of the city’s many slum areas have undermined traditional social structures and increased pressure on public spaces and other key amenities in recent decades.
The Worli Koliwada fishing village occupies an isolated promontory overlooking Mahim Bay and the city’s 2009 Sea Link motorway. The area was once one of the seven original islands of Mumbai and the families of many of its Koli inhabitants have occupied the area for centuries.
Contest site: Worli Koliwada, Mumbai
Last year parts of the settlement were controversially designated a slum by the city’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority and earmarked for redevelopment. The call for ideas aims to identify alternative redevelopment options for the site which protect the local community while also enhancing facilities for everyone.
Proposals for the new mixed-income housing development should include dwellings for Koli families featuring a veranda for weaving and repairing fishing nets, a kitchen, main room and prayer room along with other units designed for newcomers to the area.
Submissions should also consider the 1675 Worli Fort which occupies part of the peninsula and is currently being used as an unofficial temple and gymnasium. Concepts which take account of annual monsoon flooding and rising sea levels are also encouraged.
Judges include Studio Libeskind founding principal Daniel Libeskind; Norman Foster, founder and executive chairman of Foster + Partners; and Geeta Mehta, professor and founding president of Asia Initiatives at Columbia University in New York.
The overall winner, to be announced on 28 May, will receive a $5,000 top prize while three runners-up prizes of $1,000 each will also be awarded along with 10 honourable mentions.
How to apply
The registration deadline is 30 April and submissions must be completed by 1 May
Early registration from 2 February to 29 March: $75
Regular registration from 30 March to 30 April: $95
Q&A with Arch Out Loud
The competition organiser discusses its ambitions for the project
Why are your holding a contest for a new mixed-use waterfront development in Mumbai?
This competition addresses the global issue of rising inequality that segregates populations by socio-economic status, and seeks new solutions in mixed housing. This phenomenon of inequality is most evident in urban conditions, and as the brief states ‘though not fully understood, there is a clear and parallel relationship between the size of a city and its level of socio-economic disparity: the larger the city, the less equal it tends to be’. Though this problem exists worldwide, Mumbai – one of the largest metropolitan regions in the world – exhibits some of the most severe examples of inequality. The challenges that the city faces have been shared worldwide through the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, the National Book Award non-fiction book Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and worldwide news coverage of the city’s devastating flood of 2005 in which more than 1,000 people perished.
Worli Koliwada, Mumbai
Though the competition brief is hypothetical, it asks entrants to accept and address the incredible complexity of our world today. Mumbai is a challenging city for housing, period. The selection of the site, a historic piece of land claimed by indigenous fisherfolk in a highly valued part of the city, ups the challenge considerably. Add to this the very real risks posed by annual monsoon flooding and rising sea levels due to its coastal location, and you have yourself a serious competition. Inequality, climate change, flooding, preservation, and rapid urbanisation are all big issues that converge in Worli Koliwada, the competition site. It is up to entrants to address one or more of these issues, as they see fit, through the lens of mixed housing.
Furthermore, the challenges posed in the competition are being played out in real time. You can read about these issues in the Mumbai newspapers: see ‘Fisher Folk Criticize Changes to CRZ Norms’ published December 24, 2017, in the Mumbai Mirror, and ‘SRA re-examines proposal to declare Worli Koliwada a slum’ from December 10, 2017, in The Times of India. The competition allows participants from around the world to weigh in, and propose new solutions that may provide insight and inspiration for this important, real-world scenario.
What is your vision for the scheme?
The competition brief calls for a mixed-income development that accommodates two distinct socio-economic populations and includes open space that serves both residents and visitors. Entrants have a large amount of freedom to interpret the brief as they see fit, taking into consideration one or more of the site’s many challenges. The scale of the intervention is also left open to competition entrants. Though the amount of available land on the site is set (approximately 34,000km², at current sea levels), the coastal boundaries have been left intentionally vague. The brief also makes note of a historic fort that sits on the edge of the site, built in 1675 by the British.
Contest site: Worli Koliwada, Mumbai
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The competition is open to teams of up to four members. As always we seek a large, international pool of applicants with creative, innovative, and risk-taking proposals. The competition is juried by a prominent group of well-known architects and academics. In alphabetical order by first name, they include the following: Daniel Libeskind, Deborah Berke, Dominique Perrault, Eric Bunge, Geeta Mehta, Grace Kim, Joshua Prince-Ramus, Norman Foster, Romi Khosla, Sameep Padora, Sanjay Puri, Shefali Balwani, Sheila Sri Prakash, Vishaan Chakrabarti, and Yosuke Hayano.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
Please visit the arch out loud website for future competitions. The organisation hosts three competition types, Open Ideas Competitions (to which RESIDE belongs), Impact Competitions, and Flash Competitions.
Are there any other similar mixed-use waterfront projects you have been impressed by?
In order to avoid unwanted influence on competition submissions, we kindly decline to answer this question.