The project is part of a larger consortium of institutions across Asia and the UK, the larger project being titled ,”Navigating the grid in the “world-class city”: poverty, gender, and access to services in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka”.


It is based in three cities- Mumbai, Lahore and Colombo.

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Design Cell


The relationship between official plans/maps and the lived experience of urban life is therefore reframed as a research question rather than (as is often the case) a point of conceptual or analytical departure, with the former presumed to be temporally prior and causal of the latter.

In Mumbai, three dazzling decades of urban development and steady economic growth has been accompanied by the steady deterioration – and sometimes the spectacular breakdown – of the city’s infrastructural grids. This sub-project explores the recursive relationship between infrastructural practices and their representations. 

Our focus will be the competing images, discourses, and conceptualizations of infrastructural grids that circulate in the city, paying attention to the way infrastructural representations are bound up to imaginations and ideas of urban difference and hierarchy – spatial, gendered, racialized, casted, as well as the intersectional interactions among all these structures of inclusion and exclusion.

Project Objectives

To bring to light the competing representations of ‘urban problems’ and ‘grid-based solutions’ that underpin urban infrastructure and ‘world class’ development initiatives and projects. 

Focus ethnographic attention on the “phatic labour” involved in mitigating the problems of formal grid-based ‘solutions,’ to understand other ways that urban problems are framed and represented, as well as the solutions that these representations suggest.

Reimagine ‘solutions’ by attending to competing representations of urban problems