50 Ways to Game a City

50 Ways is a research project combining ethnography, photography, video documentation, and graphic visualization of the processes underlying Mumbai’s contemporary urban form.

Since the 1990s, urbanism in Mumbai has been marked by a simultaneous rise of informal settlement alongside the growth of a high-rise city and its infrastructure. During this period, new development rules have introduced unique algorithms for remaking the built environment. These regulations provide incentives to private developers to develop low-cost housing for residents of slums and other precarious housing in exchange for access to the land occupied by vulnerable and marginalized citizens. This formula for privatization, converting slum-resident resettlement into a spatial and architectural currency, has enabled the addition of thousands of square feet to the city’s built stock, radically altering its urban and cultural form.

In my research on the emergence of the vertical city, I collaborated extensively with New York based landscape architect and urban planner Vineet Diwadkar.  Together, we offer a visualization of the process enabling the rise of this new vertical city and explore its political and cultural consequences as similar slum rehabilitation models are being adopted by other rapidly growing cities in India.  50 Ways to Game a City was funded by an individual research grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. A book based on this research, titled 50 Ways to Game a City: Loophole Planning in Mumbai will be published in 2018 by UR Books, New York.