'Mumbai is amazingly complex'
Architect and Professor, Japan
Impressions: This is my fourth trip to Mumbai. I first came to the city 15 years ago. I feel the city is cleaner and more orderly now than it was then. Mumbai is exciting and intense, and fascinating for an outsider.
Biggest challenge: Definitely density. There are so many changes happening in the city at the same time, and across the board.
Impressions: I visited Mumbai for the first time in 1977 and have returned several times over the years. It’s bigger, there is much more traffic. Sense of greenery is still here but it is not as healthy as it was earlier. Marine Drive still feels the same, it’s good that heritage buildings are being saved.
Biggest challenge: Traffic. Most public transport is road-based, except the train. Expressway makes the cars move faster, but also increases the number of cars on the road. To be fair, this city has twice the population of Australia. Mumbai is amazingly complex. Hats off to the authorities who have to deal with such complexity.
Impressions: This is my second trip to the city. I had visited last year. The city is extremely large and spread out. It is tough for foreigners to move about, especially if you are adventurous like me! Mumbai is similar to Philippines – both have hot and humid climate and heavy rains. Only difference is there are no earthquakes or typhoons in Mumbai.
Biggest challenge: The city is spread out so there are two things that need to be worked on at the macro level. First, there is a need for user friendly mass transport system that is efficient. Secondly, the areas should have mixed use facilities. I mean, don’t divide the areas as residential and commercial. Have all facilities in one place.
Architect, Costa Rica
Impressions: I visited India several times over the past 20 years. I am surprised how vital Mumbai is. It has an extraordinary energy. Different areas of the city support each other – the slums work for the developed areas, and both need each other. There is a kind of agreement, a solidarity which is very interesting.
Biggest challenge: The solidarity is the result of the situation in the city. When you are going to transform or renew the city, with difficult big projects, the challenge will be how to preserve this solidarity that continues despite social and economic differences. It is very easy to destroy the solidarity when you transform a city.
Impressions: It is my first trip to the city and it’s been an amazing experience. The Saifee development project is a good thing. I am sure they will deliver, they have the confidence and support of the people. But the typology is outdated. We tried it in the UK 50 years ago and it failed. High rise apartments, podiums and gated communities are not human scale. The interaction on the street, the energy, the street as a public space... that is human scale. They should use the site to do something more extraordinary, work with Indian designs, and become a model for other large projects.
Biggest challenge: Governance. Strong leadership is needed at the highest levels so that development happens for the public good, and not opportunistically. There is a phenomenal network of industries in slums. They need to factor that in during development. The fine grain of diversity is what is special about the city. Non polluting transport should be encouraged.