2015, Delhi, with FAR Belin and Anangram
In her book Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development, author Jennifer Robinson poses the question on whether we are living in world cities or a world of ordinary cities? The author is opposed to the binaries that exist in planning language around us like north-south, urban-rural etc. and calls for cities to be analysed as spaces of production in the context that they occur. At the same while looking at the fate of planning and space production in Delhi today, I am reminded of Scott Bollen’s ‘Urban planning amidst Ethnic conflict‘, Delhi’s caste and ethnic division runs deeper than what meets the eye. It is only when one is confronted with figures such as 75% of Delhi’s population lives in unplanned settlements that one confronts the nature of the problem. This other 75% which often lives in settlements classified as Slums, Unauthorised settlements, Urban Villages, rural villages, regularised settlements etc. is subjected to a very different standard of urban life than the privileged 25%. These settlements are often left undemarcated on plans and master planning documents, this keeps the fate of these unplanned settlements in a constant limbo, catching the residents in a web of illegality, they are often made to pay more for services; denied at will and so on. Given this background how is a design professional expected to engage in such a context to ameliorate the conditions in these unplanned parts of the city? or more importantly, how can one design for the other 75%?