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Mangrove Metropolis

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Mangrove Metropolis

2018  |  Mumbai, India

Open Ideas Competition: RESIDE: Mumbai Mixed Housing

Team: Aneesha Dharwadker (Project Lead), Conor O'Shea

To design for the historic Koli fishing population in Worli, and for emerging mixed-income communities, we must take Mumbai’s larger ecological processes into account. 

Worli Koliwada is located at the edge of Mahim Bay, an estuary suffering from increasing pollution at the mouth of the Mithi River that spreads several kilometers into the Arabian Sea. The fish and crustacean populations that the Koli depend on for income—Pomfret, Surmai, Prawn, Crab, Bombay Duck—are in decline from this pollution, and the entire coast is vulnerable to a 3-meter rise in sea levels over the next 100 years. 

MANGROVE METROPOLIS proposes an ecological restoration strategy for Mahim Bay, with design elements that can be reshaped and recombined for other parts of the Mumbai coast. The Worli Koliwada peninsula connects to this larger strategy, combining suggestions from “Open Mumbai” with a new vision that specifically addresses coastal protection, fish habitats, resilient housing, and long-term socio-economic health. 

The residential architecture is integrated with the ecological design, and can sustain the expected sea rise of 3mm per year. Fishermen have direct access from their homes to the water, with intermediate spaces for boat anchoring and net making. Other mixed-income residences are organized around wet and dry public spaces, scaled for both daily use and large cultural events like Holi, Diwali, or Eid. Classical Indian architectural forms, like the colonnade, stepwell, and courtyard, are hybridized with contemporary landscape architecture to create new forms and ways of living in Mumbai.

The problem of housing posed in this competition leads us to take a more broad position on urbanism in Mumbai: it is fundamentally a condition of flux, not fixity, and any new design vision has a responsibility to respond accordingly.