Kinetic City & Other Essays

Book Release Discussants

Rahul Mehrotra

Rahul Mehrotra is the founder principal of RMA Architects. He divides his time between working in Mumbai and Boston and teaching at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he is Professor of Urban Design and Planning and the John T. Dunlop Professor in Housing and Urbanization. Mehrotra is a member of the steering committee of the Laxmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard.

In 2012-2015, he led a Harvard University-wide research project with Professor Diana Eck, called The Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Mega City. This work was published as a book in 2014. This research was extended in 2017 in the form of a book titled Does Permanence Matter? This research was also extended into an invited exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale.

Mehrotra co-authored a book titled Taj Mahal: Multiple Narratives which was published in Dec 2017. His latest book to be released in early September 2020 is titled Working in Mumbai and is a reflection on his 30 years of practice and interrogates the notion of context to understand how the practice evolved through its association with the city of Bombay/Mumbai.

Cristina

Cristina is a noted art historian and publisher who spent more than a decade at Hatje Cantz, a world-leading publisher of visual arts, photography and architecture. Cristina possesses deep industry expertise, having served as the Managing Director of Hatje Cantz where she was fully responsible for the operational and strategic management of the company. A keen interest in the arts motivated her to pursue a PhD in Art and Architectural History from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel followed by an MBA from the prestigious TUM School of Management..

ArchiTangle is a Berlin-based independent publishing house and digital service provider in the architectural space, focusing on knowledge transfer and projects of social relevance. Dedicated to cultural and ethical values in architecture, ArchiTangle’s publishing program spans the entire architecture spectrum and aims to foster the dissemination of architectural knowledge through analogue tradition and digital innovation. ArchiTangle’s digital services include a novel blockchain-based archiving platform that will enable architects, architecture institutions, archives and collections to securely preserve the integrity of architectural data in perpetuity.

Ranjit Hoskote

Ranjit Hoskote has been acclaimed as a seminal contributor to Indian art criticism and curatorial practice, and is also a leading Anglophone Indian poet. Hoskote was the curator of India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011). He co-curated the 7th Gwangju Biennale with Okwui Enwezor and Hyunjin Kim (2008).

Among his curatorial projects are three transhistorical and trans-genre exhibitions developed for the Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa: Terra Cognita? (2016), Anti-Memoirs (2017), and The Sacred Everyday (2018)

Along With Rahul Mehrotra and Kaiwan Mehta, Hoskote co-curated the exhibition-conference platforms The State of Architecture: Practices and Processes in India (National Gallery of Modern Art, Bombay, 2016) and State of Housing: Aspirations, Imaginaries and Realities (Max Mueller Bhavan, Bombay, 2018).

He is the author of more than 30 books, including Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems 1985-2005 (Penguin, 2006), Central Time (Penguin/ Viking, 2014), Jonahwhale (Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2018), and The Atlas of Lost Beliefs (Arc, 2020)

Kaiwan Mehta

Kaiwan Mehta, is a theorist and critic in the fields of visual culture, architecture, and city studies. Kaiwan has studied Architecture (B. Arch), Literature (MA), Indian Aesthetics (PGDip) and Cultural Studies (PhD). In 2017 he completed his doctoral studies at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bengaluru, under the aegis of Manipal University. Since March 2012 he has been the Managing Editor of Domus India (Spenta Multimedia). He is also Professor and coordinator of the Doctoral Programme at the Faculty of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad since 2017; and part of the CEPT University Press since 2018. He was the Charles Correa Chair professor at the Goa College of Architecture under the aegis of the Department of Art and Culture, Government of Goa for the academic year 2017-2018. 

He authored Alice in Bhuleshwar: Navigating a Mumbai Neighbourhood (Yoda Press. New Delhi, 2009) and The Architecture of I M Kadri (Niyogi. New Delhi, 2016). Mehta co-curated with Rahul Mehrotra and Ranjit Hoskote the national exhibition on architecture ‘The State of Architecture: Practices and Processes in India ‘ (UDRI. 2016) at the National Gallery Modern Art, Mumbai and ‘State of Housing – Aspirations, Imaginaries, and Realities in India’ (UDRI. 2018). He has been elected as the Jury Chairman for two consecutive terms (2015-17 and 2017-2019) for the international artist’s residency programme across 13 disciplines at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. He has been curating the Urban Design and Architecture section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai since 2016.

Rajesh Vora

Rajesh Vora, a graduate of the National Institute of Design, India, began his career in Visual Communications and has been photographing for over 30 years. A deep-rooted interest in the environment and disappearing habitats have influenced his photographic practice. Vora worked as a photographer with COLORS magazine for over 15 years and often contributed as a researcher and writer. Commissioned to document architecture projects in India and Bangladesh with social relevance, for The Aga Khan Award for Architecture Foundation, Geneva.

His concern with urban issues led to myriad collaborations and projects with architects, environmentalists and filmmakers espousing critical views on the social, cultural and political situation in India. His ongoing project, Everyday Baroque, exhibited in 2016 at Photoink Gallery, New Delhi, takes him to Punjab to document the homes of the Punjabi Non-resident Indians.

Charles Correa Memorial Event 2021

An online event in memory of our founder, late Indian architect and urbanist Charles Correa. The event will consist of the award ceremony for the Charles Correa Gold Medal and the international release of Rahul Mehrotra’s new book ‘The Kinetic City and Other Essays’.

DATE

3 September 2021

TIME

6:00 to 7:45pm

Watch the event here.

Book Release ‘The Kinetic City & Other Essays’

The event will feature a book launch by Cristina Steingräber, CEO of ArchiTangle, and publisher. This will be followed by a walk through of the book by Rahul Mehrotra, and a panel discussion with Mehrotra, Ranjit Hoskote, Kaiwan Mehta and Rajesh Vora.

Click the image to read about the discussants at the book release.

The book ‘The Kinetic City & Other Essays’ presents Rahul Mehrotra’s writings over the last thirty years and illustrates his long-term engagement with, and analysis of, urbanism in India. This work has given rise to a new conceptualization of the city. Mehrotra calls it the Kinetic City, which is the counterpoint to the Static City, as familiar to most of us from conventional city maps. He argues that the city should instead be perceived, read, and mapped in terms of patterns of occupation and associative values attributed to space. The framework is established by Mehrotra’s anchor essay, which draws out its potential to “allow a better understanding of the blurred lines of contemporary urbanism and the changing roles of people and spaces in urban society.”

The book is divided into three parts. The anchor essay, “Negotiating the Static and Kinetic Cities,” and other contributions (twenty-one in total) make up the main section. A second book within the book is dedicated to an expansive complimentary photo essay by the photographer Rajesh Vora, illustrating the key themes of transaction, instability, spectacle, and habitation. The last section presents an illustrated bibliography of Rahul Mehrotra’s wide range of research and writings.

Click here to read about the discussants at the book release.

Charles Correa Gold Medal: Award Ceremony

The event will also feature presentation and an announcement of the winner of the Charles Correa Gold Medal 2021.

Click the image for details about the Charles Correa Gold Medal Jury 2021.

The Charles Correa Gold Medal is a national award to recognize quality and talent among young students of architecture who address issues of the urban realm through their undergraduate thesis. 38 of the best schools of architecture in India participated in this edition of the medal. One student will be awarded the prestigious Charles Correa Gold Medal. Additionally, two students will be awarded with an honorable mention.

Click here to read about the Jury and winners of the 2021 cycle of the Gold Medal

Click here to read about the history and an overview of the Charles Correa Gold Medal.

WHAT IS THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING?

“Adequate housing was recognized as part of the right to an adequate standard of living in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”

Housing as a concept is not limited to shelter, or having a roof over your head. And it’s not a matter of affordability either. Housing is one of the most important life components giving shelter, safety and warmth, as well as providing a place to rest with dignity and security. The right to housing adequacy attempts to holistically develop the concept of housing such that it moves beyond the number game of space and affordability to present a list of key elements that need to be considered to make housing adequate. 

Photo: Rajesh Vora

Adequate housing is universally viewed as one of the most basic human needs. The right to adequate housing is one of the economic, social and cultural rights to have gained increasing attention and promotion, not only from the human rights bodies but also from the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. The United Nations Declaration on Social Progress and Development (1969) and the United Nations Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements (1976) recognize a universal right to adequate housing. The right to adequate housing includes ensuring access to adequate services, extending but not limited to seven important elements: legal security of tenure, availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location and cultural adequacy. 

What do these terms mean? Consider “security of tenure”, a major obstacle to ensuring this facet of adequate housing is eviction. “Protection against forced evictions is a key element of the right to adequate housing and is closely linked to security of tenure.”1 According to the 2011 Census, there are 1.77 million homeless people in India which make up around 0.15% of the population. A report published by the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), estimates that about 190,000 Indian people get evicted from their homes every year. and as many as 14.9 million face a threat of eviction and displacement. To counter this extreme condition of urbanity, the right to housing adequacy insists that Nations take responsibility to  ensure that evictions are only permitted in exceptional circumstances, and adhere to the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, the International policy along with reinforcement through National and State level law and governance intends to provide protection to vulnerable persons and affected groups. 

The right to adequate housing attempts to establish the connection between health and dwelling, it recognizes that secure shelter and basic sanitation are essential for living a healthy and stable life. Key elements to recognize housing adequacy include the availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure. “In India it is estimated that 17 percent of the urban population currently has no access to any sanitary facilities at all, while 50–80 percent of wastewater is disposed of without any treatment.”2 Furthermore, a WaterAid report in 2016 ranked India among the worst countries in the world for the number of people without safe water. An estimated 76 million people in India have no access to a safe water supply, and the situation is only getting more serious. The right to adequate housing ensures that housing encompasses sustainable access to natural and common resources, clean drinking water, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, site drainage and emergency services.

Source: 2013_State of Housing in India_A Statistical Compendium_MHUPA; 2011_Report of the Technical Group on Urban Housing Shortage(TG-12)

Housing has always been closely associated with affordability. The case of India is particularly lacking in this regard. The Urban Housing Shortage (households) in 2012 was 18.78 Million, 56% of this total came from the economically weaker section with a monthly income of up to ₹5000, 40% from the lower income group with a monthly income between ₹5000 to ₹10000 and the remaining 4% comes from the middle income group with a monthly income of above ₹10000. The right to adequate housing establishes the need to develop affordable housing for all income groups by providing the citizens a greater expanse of policies and fiscal benefits to buy/build a house. “The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) that precluded it, are initiatives of the Government of India which aim to provide affordable housing to the urban poor by the year 2022. The RAY scheme was launched in 2011, and amended into the PMAY in 2015. The interest rate for the PMAY scheme starts at an interest subsidy of 6.5 percent on housing loans availed upto a tenure of 15 years”3, these government initiatives attempt to generate positive externalities of consumption through housing.  PMAY aims to develop affordable housing in a public-private sector partnership and promote affordable housing for urban poor through credit linked subsidy. However the rollout has faced multiple hurdles. “At this rate, it will take 66 years to achieve a target of 10 million units, 120 years to build 18 million units”.4

Another key component of the right to adequate housing is habitability of housing. According to the WHO, habitable houses should comply with health and safety standards; including providing the inhabitants with adequate space, “protection against cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health and structural hazards.”1 Habitability ensures inhabitants  the needed space to live in dignity and peace, as well as protection from natural elements, structural hazards and disease vectors which threaten their physical well-being. Indian habitability standards are developed by respective National and State housing agencies and lack international applicability. The right to adequate housing understands that humans are the direct beneficiary of habitability and that there is a need to evolve habitability standards that reflect the perceptions, expectation, and satisfaction of humans in line with their unique multi-cultural residential landscape.

“Urban inequality is a blight experienced by many cities, even in the developed world. In developing countries like India, these social and economic inequalities become even more pronounced, with living conditions in certain populations crossing the line to the abysmal”5. The Indian society is highly stratified and hierarchical in character. The stratified and hierarchical nature of Indian society involves institutional processes that economically and socially exclude, discriminate, isolate and deprive some groups on the basis of characteristics like caste, ethnicity or religious background. The right to adequate housing promotes the development of housing that is free from discriminatory practices against the disadvantaged or the marginalized. It tries to establish housing as a practice that does not restrict accessibility in any way, shape or form. 

The right to adequate housing has an important focus on ‘location’, this not only establishes the need for available employment opportunities, health-care services, schools, childcare centres and other social facilities but also ensures that housing is not displaced in zones of extreme pollution or conflict. According to the National Disaster Management Plan 2019 (NDMP), 68% of India’s land is prone to drought, 60% to earthquakes, 12% to floods and 8% to cyclones, this makesIndia one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, affecting 85% of Indian geography and more than 50 million people. Considering the influence of social, cultural, climatic and economical factors, location becomes a key aspect in determining whether the conditions of adequate housing are being met. Furthermore, the right to adequate housing ensures the expression of cultural identity. Since culture is not a constant, it keeps changing and also accommodates changes. People tend to have changes in their aspirations — and accordingly culture, due to the influence from neighbouring cultures, education, globalisation, economic empowerment or other parameters. The expression of culture and its identity is also enshrined as a key element in determining the adequacy of housing. 

“Human rights are interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. In other words, the violation of the right to adequate housing may affect the enjoyment of a wide range of other human rights and vice versa.”1 The World Health Organization has asserted that housing is the single most important environmental factor associated with disease conditions and higher mortality and morbidity rates. Having access to adequate, safe and secure housing substantially strengthens the likelihood of people being able to enjoy certain additional rights. Housing is a foundation from which other legal entitlements can be achieved which makes the right to adequate housing a fundamental right that needs to be recognized and practiced in equal spirits. 

References

  1. Fact Sheet No. 21/Rev.1, The Right to Adequate Housing, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 
  2. Draft National Urban Sanitation Policy, 2007
  3. PMINDIA
  4. business-satndard.com_22May 2017
  5. Social Marginalisation in Urban India and the Role of the State, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, 2015
  6. Forced Evictions in India in 2019: An Unrelenting National Crisis, Housing and Land Rights Network, New Delhi, 2020
  7. Right to Shelter is just a Constitutional Right and not Fundamental Right : Part 1
  8. Basic Principles And Guidelines On Development Based Evictions And Displacement

Z-axis 2020 Lecture Series out now!

The Z-axis 2020 Lecture Series has ended. You may watch recordings of all the sessions on our YouTube channel, click on the sessions below to watch the recordings:

01 CHARLES CORREA MEMORIAL LECTURE

02 REDEFINING THE CITY FOR THE PUBLIC

03 COMMONS AND THE CITY

04 STREETS IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

05 HOMES IN THE STREET

Registered participants took part in the Design Competition.

‘Nightwalkers glide through Tier III towns’: How can India heal its coronavirus-ravaged cities?

By Vivek Menezes

The Z-Axis Conference brings together ‘starchitects’ from around the world to share their experiences about solving urban challenges.
‘Nightwalkers glide through Tier III towns’: How can India heal its coronavirus-ravaged cities?
A family of migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh walk out of Navi Mumbai. | PTI

A few days ago, the outstanding poet and translator Mustansir Dalvi (he has also been on the faculty of Mumbai’s Sir JJ School of Architecture for 17 years) released a new collection of verse. Walk, he said, was written from his “sense of helplessness, frustration and anger” earlier this year, when “we were seeing vast number of people, walking back home, sometimes covering over 1,000 km from state to state, without support, money or transportation”.

By now, it’s clear India launched heedlessly into “the world’s strictest lockdown” without the measures necessary to safeguard the vast majority of its citizens. At that time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi misguidedly promised that the “Mahabharata war was won in 18 days, this war the whole country is fighting against corona will take 21 days”.

Continue reading “‘Nightwalkers glide through Tier III towns’: How can India heal its coronavirus-ravaged cities?”

Charles Correa’s 1955 Master Thesis Uses Animated Film to Explain Public Participation in Urban Processes

By Andreea Cutieru

Charles Correa’s 1955 Master Thesis Uses Animated Film to Explain Public Participation in Urban Processes, Charles Correa passed away on June 26th 2015. Image © Chistbal Manuel
Charles Correa passed away on June 26th 2015. Image © Chistbal Manuel

Charles Correa Foundation has recently released several snippets of ‘You & Your Neighbourhood’Charles Correa’s 1955 Master Thesis at MIT, an animation film for which the architect was scriptwriter, animator, photographer and director. The thesis put forward the idea of a participatory process for the betterment of neighbourhoods, with a strong emphasis on creating a framework for improving urban conditions in a bottom-up approach.

Continue reading “Charles Correa’s 1955 Master Thesis Uses Animated Film to Explain Public Participation in Urban Processes”

Z-AXIS 2020: REGISTRATION OPEN

BRIEF RELEASE-01

General Registration

Registration Open.

The registration fee is ₹900 /- per individual.

All amounts inclusive of tax.

The registration fee for the event will cover both the Virtual Conference as well as the Design Competition.

Participation in the competition is not mandatory but will be an interesting conduit to engage deeper with the ideas discussed during the virtual competition.

We are extending our registration deadline!

The registrations will close at 11:30 noon IST on 25th September 2020.

For foreign credit card payments kindly write to zaxis@charlescorreafoundation.org

 

The registration form can be downloaded here

21 Days of Solitude

A list of recommended readings from the CCF library to help you get through the lockdown.

’21 DAYS OF SOLITUDE’ is a project focusing on our present sequestration, and reflecting on our dependence on public space in urban areas. Undertaken by the Charles Correa Foundation Fellows to engage interests in the writings of urbanists, we are focusing on writings that we are familiar with — writings that cover a broad spectrum of topics like public space in cities, building urban communities and urban planning, spatial narratives, memoirs, architecture and visual theory, to whet your interest and concern, and to stimulate discussion.

Continue reading “21 Days of Solitude”

Pandemics and Urban Planning

“Analysis of Google Trends data shows that in the past one month, the search term ‘coronavirus’ was explored most frequently by people in Goa (more than any state in India). On Google Trends, Goa had a score of 100, which means that the percentage of people searching for information on the virus through Google was the highest in the country.”1

1
“Project for the new city of Goa to be built at the site of Panjim” executed and drawn by Joze de Morais Antas Machado, infantry sergeant-major and engineer, in March 1776, by order of the Ill. and Ex. Snr. D. Jozé Pedro da Camara Governor and Captain General of India”2

Goa is an interesting case — while being India’s smallest State, “populated by approximately 1.5 million people; it receives almost 8 million visitors annually”.3 According to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Goa is also India’s most Urbanised State!

The countermeasures adopted began with an advisory from the Union health ministry, suggesting a postponement of all mass functions, including seminars and conferences, followed by the closure of all educational institutions including schools, colleges as well as casinos, spas, gymnasiums, swimming pools, cinema halls and pubs by the State Government followed by a nationwide curfew on 22nd of march declared by the Prime Minister and as of the midnight of 24th March, India has announced a 21-day lock-down to check the on-going spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID – 19).

As India prepares its arsenal to combat Coronavirus, we look at the history of cities and the deeply rooted connection between urban planning and epidemics/pandemics.

The truth is that the developments in our urban infrastructure and planning are direct results of pandemics. Ian Klaus (2020) says that “Modern planning and civil engineering were born out of the mid-19th century development of sanitation in response to the spread of malaria and cholera in cities.”4 Conversely, public health officials have been an integral part of upgrading our cities.

In the case of Goa, Celsa Pinto in her book ‘Colonial Panjim’ (2017) illustrates two incidents in the 19th century: The first, in 1822, a complaint was raised by residents Diogo de Costa Fernandes and Antonio de Souza expressing apprehensions over poor waste management leading to epidemics. The second in 1855-56 was a special effort by the Health Department to tackle sanitation problems as the debris and organic waste thrown by inhabitants gave rise to diseases like conjunctivitis, angina, tuberculosis, etc.

1
Scène de la peste de 1720 à la Tourette (Marseille) by Catalan-born French painter Michel Serre

2
As the great plague of Marseilles moved inexorably northward (1720), it approached the Papal territories around Avignon. In an effort to stop its spread, the Pope and the King of France agreed to build a two-meter-high stone wall from near Mt. Ventoux to the Durance River.

The great plague of Marseilles (1720), the cholera pandemic in Asia (1820), the Spanish Flu (1920) are examples of how medieval and industrial cities were forced to implement planning practices to aid in disease quarantine and how post-pandemic, management of water and waste helped remake cities. Moreover, in contemporary conditions of our globalised world, pandemics drastically reflect the shortcomings of our cities. The infrastructure needed to combat epidemics has almost always been an afterthought.

3

4
A major problem during the Ebola virus disease epidemic in Liberia was that the exact actions performed during these sacred rituals such as ‘Decoration Day’ also helped to cause further transmission of the disease. Strict regulations on handling the bodies of Ebola victims evolved in response to this problem.

We rethought our connectivity as a city building fundamental post-SARS pandemic. Ebola made us conscious of the coexistence of our cities and the impossibility of mass quarantine. As India begins to get conscious of the corona pandemic, waves of xenophobia sweep the tourist hotspot of Goa, moreover the bordering states, as well as the international connectivity, illustrate the amorphous nature of our cities and urban centres. It took the emergency response services and police around 45 days from the reports of the corona pandemic in India, 30 days from the initial corona infection reports, 15 days post the temporary shutting of some services and 2 days post a nationwide curfew to close the borders between Goa, and its neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

5
Large-scale cleaning operations were carried out at a number of housing estates badly affected by SARS photo: Martin Chan

6
Residents were only allowed to return to their homes in Amoy Gardens when the quarantine was lifted in the middle of April of 2003. Photo: Robert NG

In many ways the fundamental planning strategy that we need to factor is density. Rethinking density management is key for long-term survival in a pandemic-prone world. India is home to a large number of informal settlements. How do we manage density in such a scenario? How do we map an outbreak? How do we quarantine areas and cut off physical contact? One can potentially rely on using the democratic planning method — local mapping and using communities to source data. However, much like Wikipedia, decentralising information and data gathering bring with it credibility issues, with no way of sourcing primary information, all urban knowledge acquired shall present an inadequate picture of ground realities at best. Furthermore, India’s porous and informal borders coupled with shifting trends of internal migration within the state and country coupled with a steady inflow of tourists from around the world raise the larger planning-oriented question: is density even a controllable parameter in Indian cities?

7
The network of railways in India penetrates thousands of small villages, towns and developing rural landscapes. Multiple trade routes propagate and latency of mass transportation developing long supply chains and multiple access routes.

India needs higher standards in public health and planning. Contextual planning demands the decentralisation of essential services as a pragmatic response to pandemics. In cases of pandemics, Indian cities — with our inadequate planning, transportation systems and given the scale of our urban assemblies, have become hotbeds for mass infection. Amidst mass hysteria, and when our systems and responses fail, there has to be an inquiry into the shortcomings of our planning practices. “Singapore had to shut down its main hospitals during SARS. Many countries such as Italy are considering door-to-door testing. But we need to also rethink the ways, perhaps digital ones, we test and contain.”4 The door to door testing model would fail in Goa, with millions of mobile tourists, and in cities like Mumbai and Delhi with upwards of 10 million inhabitants, even temporary quarantine is a distant dream.

8
The Wuhan Tianhe International Airport is a large airport in China. It is an international airport and serves the area of Hubei, China. Wuhan Airport has non-stop passenger flights scheduled to 94 destinations in 19 countries. Usually, there are 65 domestic flights from Wuhan.5

The coronavirus first spread through a market at Wuhan. Wuhan is an extremely important transportation and international trade centre. The rapid urbanisation of Chinese cities has made them attractive destinations for Chinese workers; urbanisation enables higher densities as the planning process starts to strategize for public gatherings and mass transportation. The physical output of these strategies creates spaces that would enable the spread of infectious diseases at an exponential rate, moreover, the squatters created in developing countries are particularly susceptible to mass infections. Equally, with major transportation and trade routes now connecting India by land and air there is a blurring distinction between urban and rural in terms of the supply chain of products. Pandemics aren’t simply a by-product of globalisation; they are in fact a very stern reminder of connections, economics and participation of global cities with all other areas within a country. The story of Wuhan teaches us that rapid growth cannot be sustainable unless there is an investment in social and technical infrastructure that develops with the pace of urbanisation. Yes, there is a great monetary advantage in mobility and infrastructures that address to it but outbreaks like the coronavirus pandemic do denote that what we’ve been sold as desirable urbanisation is contrary with what makes sense from an infectious disease perspective, quarantined mega-cities and cruise ships demonstrate what happens when our globalised urban lives come grinding to a halt.”4

9
A view of Mumbai’s Bandra-Worli sea link over the Arabian Sea as seen during a 14-hour lockdown to limit the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

As the Indian lock-down progresses, citizens quarantine themselves and mobility is restricted, the deserted urban fabric starts to reveal itself onto the foreground. Infrastructure begins to support a non-existing assembly of people as vegetation reclaims space and nature thrives. Our cities as of this moment are denoting, with extreme precision, the presence, absence and shortcomings of planning and space management at micro and macro scales. As we immerse into a national quarantine, the infrastructure around us is truly tested. Cities are centres developed around mobility and connections, but what happens when these connections are methodically severed? What results would isolation create in a mobile world? Are we to increasingly adopt newer planning practices or are we to focus on planning for emergencies? The deserted reality of our urban fabric today presents us with opportunities for observation. A rare insight into discerning the elemental framework of our urban infrastructure under pandemic pressures and in the vast emptiness.

10
A view of Kolkata’s iconic Howrah Bridge during the 14-hour curfew to limit the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

The larger point that the pandemics steer our focus towards is when the outbreak shall be halted and bans lifted and the world resumes as normal, there still needs to be a great degree of research and understanding into the relationship between the spread of infectious diseases and urbanisation. There are two aspects that we need to focus on. One, we need to grasp where disease outbreaks occur and how they relate to the physical, spatial, economic, social and ecological changes brought on by urbanisation.”4 There is a direct relationship between contemporary urbanisation and potential pandemic outbreaks. The coronavirus and its effects over our planet are streamlining our focus towards the evaluation of the present conditions of our cities and its infrastructure, raising planning and contextual inquiries, forcing us to introspect and question what we really learn from rapid urbanisation and more importantly, is there a need to catalogue and curate the exploration of emerging urban landscapes?

FOOTNOTES

  1. https://www.indiatoday.in/diu/story/coronavirus-google-trends-search-india-bihar-goa-karnataka-1655343-2020-03-14
  2. Faria, A, Panjim between the past and modernity: building the city of new Goa, 1776-1921.
  3. Ministry of Tourism statistics for 2018 in Parliament, 03.02.2020 
  4. https://www.citylab.com/design/2020/03/coronavirus-urban-planning-global-cities-infectious-disease/607603/
  5. https://www.flightconnections.com/flights-from-wuhan-wuh
  6. https://www.citylab.com/design/2020/02/how-we-map-epidemics-coronavirus-history/606349/
  7. https://www.scmp.com/photos/hong-kong/2138765/hong-kongs-deadly-sars-outbreak-pictures?page=14
  8. Pinto, C (1961). Colonial Panjim Its Governance, Its People. Goa 1556.
  9. https://www.scmp.com/photos/hong-kong/2138765/hong-kongs-deadly-sars-outbreak-pictures?page=14

Pandemics and maps

In the wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the CCF team came across a collection of maps that spatially visualise outbreaks, and did a little research around the analytics that illustrate pandemic movements. As it turns out, there has been an effort to document pandemics since as early as the 1600s.

Marie Patino’s article, ‘Coronavirus Outbreak Maps Rooted in History’ shares these historic maps enabling us to understand the shift in data analytics and gathering from a more central approach towards radical democratisation of technology, catalysed through Internet access and data sharing.

12
This online dashboard was developed by Johns Hopkins University to track the 2019-20 COVID-19 outbreak. As of 31st January, it had racked up 52 million views, according to ESRI.1

122
‘Metabiota’ structures data from multiple health organisations to track on-going epidemics. It has also on-boarded and cleaned information about thousands of previous outbreaks.1

1222
In the earliest documented disease map, Filippo Arrieta visualized the strategy for containing the spread of disease in the region of Bari, Italy 1690-92. (Controlling the geographical spread of infectious disease: plague in Italy, 1347-1851)1

12222
Valentine Seaman, An Inquiry into the Cause of the Prevalence of the Yellow Fever in New York, in the Medical Repository, 1797. (Brian Altonen) 1

13
John Snow, Plan Showing the Ascertained Deaths from Cholera. The black bars represent deaths from the disease. (Wellcome Collection online archives) 1

original (1)
Richard Grainger, Cholera Map of the Metropolis. 1849, 1850. Via the Wellcome Collection online archives. 1

original (2)
Sections showing the relative intensity of the attack of cholera at the various levels along the lines marked on the cholera map. (Wellcome Collection online archives).1

Jay Hilotin’s photo essay, ‘Spanish flu 1918 v/s Covid-19′, shares interesting stills and glimpses depicting the on-ground reality of pandemics, within them is a map titled, ‘Worldwide Diffusion of Influenza’, which illustrates the second wave of the Spanish Influenza pandemic.

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PATHS OF INFECTION: Map depicting the Spanish flu pandemic 1918, Patterson KD, Pyle GF, “The Geography and Mortality of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.” Image Credit: Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1991; 65(1): 4-21. 2

Historian Mark Osborne Humphries claims he had found “archival evidence” that a respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917. This illness was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish ‘flu. Humphries also found medical records which indicate that more than 3,000 of the 25,000 Chinese Labor Corps workers who were transported across Canada en route to Europe starting in 1917 ended up in medical quarantine, many with flu-like symptoms.

‘Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak’ in the New York Times, presents a constantly updating world map and illustrating the average number of new cases each day (for the last 7 days). It presents a great insight into how this strain of coronavirus propagates at a regional scale and presents an opportunity to document the global rise of the disease.

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This is a screenshot of the New York Times coronavirus map, retrieved on 25 March 2020. Sources: Local Governments; The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University; National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China; World Health Organization. 3

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The map shows the known locations of coronavirus cases by US county. Circles are sized by the number of people there who have tested positive, which may differ from where they contracted the illness. Some people who travelled overseas were taken for treatment in California, Nebraska and Texas. Puerto Rico and the other U.S. territories are not shown. Sources: State and local health agencies, hospitals, C.D.C.3

Nikhil Rampal’s, the India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU), used Google Trends data, to try to measure the degree of curiosity around the deadly virus in India. This analysis denoted that, across India, the search term ‘coronavirus’ was explored most frequently by people in Goa. Goa had a score of 100, (which means that the percentage of people searching for information on the virus through Google was the highest in the country). According to Google Trends, values are calculated on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 is the location with the most popularity as a fraction of total searches in that location, while a value of 50 indicates a location which is half as popular.

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Graphic produced by India Today Data Intelligence Unit, based on Google Trends data.4

FOOTNOTES

  1. https://www.citylab.com/design/2020/02/how-we-map-epidemics-coronavirus-history/606349/
  2. https://gulfnews.com/world/spanish-flu-1918-vs-covid-19-1.1582445160581?slide=34
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html
  4. https://www.indiatoday.in/diu/story/coronavirus-google-trends-search-india-bihar-goa-karnataka-1655343-2020-03-14