Residential density: 34,000 people per km2 (London 4,500 people per km2)

The city of Mumbai (Bombay) covers 438 km2 of Salsette Island, although almost a fifth of this area is occupied by Borivali National Park. This means the urban areas are condensed into about 350 km2, with a high gross residential density, about seven times the density of London. About half the population lives in makeshift shacks with no sewers or water. Urban housing is cramped and expensive, and open public space is limited – only 1% of the city’s area – and often poorly-maintained.

Mumbai’s more affluent classes live in a corridor stretching along the city’s north-south axis. Taller residential structures are surrounded by densely-packed, low rise slum buildings. As the city diversifies from its core industries, former mill areas and docklands offer the potential to produce affordable housing and accessible public spaces, but given current development trends, are likely to become exclusive office and residential zones.

Lack of investment means urban infrastructure cannot meet the demands of a growing population. 85% of residents (the equivalent of the population of Norway) use public transport every day; train carriages are regularly filled well beyond their intended capacity. Mumbai is a city where the vast majority of people still walk to work, reflecting the strong link between the location of informal housing and workplaces.

Project: Chikhalwadi Sanitation

Mumbai lacks sanitation facilities for about half its population. The absence of running water and sewerage connections is unacceptable and potentially lifethreatening. Children in slums cannot compete in the long queues for scarce municipal toilets; they defecate outside their homes.

The Chikhalwadi Sanitation Project consists of community toilet blocks designed, constructed and maintained by collectives. They include separate spaces for men, women and children. Capital finance for construction comes from the state or municipalities, who also have to ensure that water and electricity are provided to the blocks.

Architect: vistaar Architects and Planners
Client: Sparc
Completion: 2004