Public spaces play a pivotal role in shaping any city and its neighbourhood. A good city is one that is spacious and healthy to live in.
Mumbai – The City of Dreams, is a growing Global City and has been urbanizing for the past century. The second most populated city in the country, has evolved from scattered islands to a huge commercial hub. Uncontrollable migration due to urbanization, unplanned and haphazard development, followed by encroachments and growing numbers of slums on the available open lands has made the conditions of the city more and more congested with the population it cannot handle. The city that already lacked good public spaces, now essentially lives as two cities: the one that is rising formally, enjoying the modern lifestyle and available public spaces, while the other – the informal one, which lives in miserable and compact conditions, with little to no public spaces or even basic amenities but yet try to adjust, be happy in the little available spaces.
The Kolis who were here first, the original inhabitants, who preferred their original, culturally rich lifestyle and could not cope up with the development of the city, got cornered and also became a part of this informal city. The city that has risen this high, seems to have forgotten and left back its first people. These Kolis today face various issues due to the impact of such development and struggle to maintain their culture, along with their own urban needs. They have thrived in the hidden quarters of the city, in their homes called ‘Koliwadas’ for centuries. Worli one of the original seven islands, is one such Koliwada blessed with rich heritage and culture, has been pushed to the edges due to urbanization and mindless planning and finds itself sandwiched between the modern city and its informal city which is often neglected. Thus, studying the development of this urbanized Mumbai and the unconventional public spaces of its informal city, will help in understanding its original informal settlements – the Koliwadas, their issues due to urbanization and the need to sustain their age-old lifestyle, culture and traditions through necessary improvements by reimagining their public way of life.