Mumbai’s overgrown habitats

February 2, 2010

The Portuguese left a few long lasting legacies in Mumbai. Forts are one of them. Along Mumbai’s Eastern and Western waterfronts one can rediscover them hidden in the surrounding habitat, whether it is mangroves, fishermen’s huts or Dharaviesque microworkshops.

Airoots follows Anuradha Mathur (co-author with Dilip Da Cunha of the much acclaimed book and exhibition SOAK) down the adventurous path in Sewri, Mahim and Worli.

Down the adventurous path: Anuradha Mathur in front of Rahul Srivastava

Abyssinian Mangroves. Unlike Red Mangroves their branches go straight up in the air and don’t become roots. Both photos are taken in the vicinity of the Sewri Fort.

What if the city acknowledged the incompressible dimensions of its existence and redefined itself around its fault-lines : rivers and tides, vegetation and wildlife, migration flows and vernacular habitats… These are the living forces shaping Mumbai day after day, yet they are all, in one way or the other, misunderstood and endangered.

Supereal Mahim Beach and its hidden villages.

Following a methodology based on sectional analysis of a territorial segment, Anuradha’s students observe the integration or the disappearance of one habitat into another. For instance, a river flowing into a creek and sustaining a mangrove forest, which is slowly reclaimed by garbage and turns into a solid ground upon which a settlement grows. This grounded approach serves to produce design interventions that acknowledge and potentially influence the forces in presence.

The Worli-Bandra Sealink viewed from Worli’s Koliwada (Fisher folks village)