Ecologies of Inclusion
Ecologies of Inclusion
  • Ecologies of Inclusion Inroduction
  • Shirish Joshi
  • Keya Kunte
  • Sheela Patel

Ecologies of Inclusion

Mapping Amenities in Mumbai’s Informal Settlements


41% of the urban population in Mumbai lives in informal settlements. Of these, only a small fraction has access to toilets, water, schools and municipal health facilities. Rehabilitation into formal housing schemes can take decades, if they do materialize at all, furthermore these too are not seen as ideal solutions. In the meantime, people are incrementally building their own homes, and it is being increasingly recognized that regardless of tenure, informal settlements must have access to basic amenities.

‘Ecologies of Inclusion’ looks at the access of communities in informal settlements to basic amenities of water, sanitation, transport, health and education.

Students will learn through methods of documentation, analysis and representation of informal settlements and their relationship to the city vis a vis the provision of basic amenities and thereby their inclusion as part of the city.

The tools and framework of documentation that emerge through this program will be used to enable such documentation across other wards in the city. Therefore, the students should also see this program as producing, for the city, a larger framework for collecting data, monitoring access to amenities in informal settlements and in developing indicators of adequate access.

The program sees a value in using this process in enabling communities to collect and use data to procure their rights of access, thereby also strengthening their relationship with the local government.

Time Period: 2 weeks
No. of Students: 15 minimum – 25 maximum
Student Year: Vertical Studio, Undergraduate Architecture students 3rd, 4th and 5th year and Masters students
Tutors: Shirish Joshi (KRVIA), Keya Kunte (UDRI) with Sheela Patel (SPARC), NSDF and Mahila Milan
Location: Mumbai


In the absence of affordable housing, marginalized communities continue to invest in their own solutions; building incrementally and accruing amenities, with or without support or recognition from formal institutions. ‘Ecologies of Inclusion’ is based on the premise that the access to basic amenities is essential to the question of inclusion in the city, regardless of tenure and in the absence of immediate housing provision. Students will work with existing community groups in an informal settlement to evolve a framework to document and analyze amenity provision.


Shirish Joshi is an architect from CEPT, Ahmedabad and an urban planner from the City College of the City University of New York. His experience spans across nine years in Urban Conservation, Urban Sustainability and Urbanism. Previously, he has worked with the Ahmedabad Heritage Centre and at Terreform in New York. Shirish is currently a full time faculty at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA). He has been conducting studios at both the Graduate (Urban Design) and Undergraduate (Architecture) schools at KRVIA for the past five years that include the areas of Urban Food (Ecologies of Food) and Urban Waste (Ecologies of Waste).


Keya Kunte currently works with the Urban Design Research Institute in Mumbai. Prior to this, she has worked for four years with the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) on documentation and research of upgrading projects, participatory slum mapping and incremental housing. She has also worked with the Ahmedabad Heritage Cell, on restoration projects in the old city of Ahmedabad. Her interests include urban informality, equitable access to resources of the city and participatory planning processes. Keya has trained as an architect at the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad and as an urban planner from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Sheela Patel is the founding director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC), which she organized in Mumbai in 1984 as an advocacy group to address the problems of women pavement dwellers of Mumbai. She was a key figure in the building up of Mahila Milan, a decentralized network of collectives of women living on pavements and in slums in different parts of India, that brings women together around savings and credit activities while augmenting their capacities to interact with the larger world of government and formal institutions with regard to secure shelter and basic amenities in slums. The alliance of SPARC, Mahila Milan and the National Slum Dwellers Federation, another people’s organization, collectively tackles urban poverty by strengthening grassroots groups of the poor themselves. SPARC continues to this day to play a major role in the area of slum development in India and throughout many countries in South East Asia and Latin America.

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