American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2007 Student Awards
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Site and block plan: these site diagrams (right) show the relationship of the tank system to open space and housing within the proposed colony, the detail block plan shows in more detail typical relationships between ground level public spaces.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Existing Conditions: Images representing existing conditions around Mumbai, India of water consumption and drainage. Left: women Washington clothes, United Mill 1 Chawl, 2006. Bottom: drainage canals for the Mithi river, C-Building Chawl, and the Shell Colony (emergeMUMBAI's model colony) 2007.
(Photo: top left photo by Shuang Yu, left middle and left bottom photo by Mary Gourlay)
Flood Diagram: This mapping and analysis shows areas flooding on an annual basis due to monsoons. The sites outlined in red are government housing sites; over half of the sites shown flood annually.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Flooding causes and regional flood mitigation solutions.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Guidelines for shell colony (housing and landscape) site guidelines explain both site moves and building characteristics. The Mithi River slum population will be moved to allow for river expansion to increase drainage (upper diagrams). Ideas about open space within the building are extracted from Mumbai precedents.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Block section: section cutting a typical block, from public street, through the building courtyard, into the semi-public green space, the building is raised, allowing water to flow to the green space, entering the initial catchment tank (right tank) then filtered (left tanks).
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Drainage and filtration axoometric: this axonometric walks rainwater through the underground filtration system to a play pump, and to the slow-sand-dobi-ghat filtration tank. Grey water from apartments or laundry can be re-entered into this system.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Courtyard perspective with filtration tank: the slow-sand-dobi-ghat filtration tank features individual wash bins, in a community filtration device. This view shows the close proximity of the courtyard to the building's water supply, wash binds and green space.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)



Robyn Perkins, Student ASLA
Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Faculty Advisors: Niall Kirkwood, ASLA; Nazneen Cooper

"Water quality issues are a phenomenal challenge and are well-represented in this project. The project paid attention to the socio-economic issues of Mumbai. The analysis of flooding and geology is very extensive."

— 2008 Student Awards Jury Comments

Project Statement:

emergeMUMBAI addresses flooding at a regional level, water management and public social spaces for housing redevelopment sites, and most importantly, it alleviates the insufficient water supply for the individual citizen. The project uses modern techniques combined with Indian models to provide solutions that work within Mumbai’s culture and maintenance/implementation regimes. Each block of the colony becomes self-contained in terms of water management, while supplying enough water to meet its consumption demands.

Project Narrative: 

Mumbai’s biggest problem is its distribution, control and protection of water. emergeMUMBAI combines rediscovered technology of urban rainwater harvesting, with successful Indian models for water consumption and development. It is a flood mitigation tool and water supply system that can be implemented on an individual, housing block or district level.

The greatest issue the urban center of Mumbai is currently facing is the supply, distribution and protection of water throughout the city. Mumbai has the densest population worldwide, reaching a population over 14 million people. 8 million of these people don’t have running water. 10% of the population waits over 10 hours for clean water. On a daily basis, Mumbai meets only 84% of its water demand and yet the city is likely to increase its population in the next ten years to over 20 million.

Ironically, three months out of the year, rainwater is in excess, flooding and backing up into much of the city and suburbs. With a storm water system over 100 years old and in desperate need of replacement or repair, the flooded streets and city fabric shut down the city annually creating disruption to transportation, businesses and causing loss of life. This is a result of poor and unplanned development, a lack of updated infrastructure, and waste collection systems that are inadequate to account for the growing population.

Drastic development has increased impervious surfaces and excess trash and sewage are blocking open canals, rivers and streams used to drain storm water out of the city during monsoons. Currently 60% of the Mumbai population lives in slums where the population does not have clean running water or reliable access to toilets. Mothers wash their young families in the street near water standpipes or from water buckets, children swim near trash-covered polluted beaches. In short, access to the basic amenity of clean available water for this population is minimal at best. These two issues, flooding and access to clean water, negatively effect the entire population of Mumbai, putting over half of them at serious health risk.

Mumbai, however is currently going through major redevelopment as a global financial and technology center, focused on rebuilding and densifying the public housing areas and the slums. Now is the appropriate time to rethink the water systems of the city, and their relationship to flooding.

The project, although site specific, is a model for public housing developments as well as other municipal and private developments and initiatives. Many of these low-rise sites are being redeveloped into towers, maintaining the current population, but providing additional apartments to address the needs of the growing population. Towers do not adequately address flooding and they disregard many successful aspects of Mumbai’s current housing such as semi public balcony space and protected open green spaces. Importantly, the new proposals fail to acknowledge the importance of the street in everyday life, whether as a venue for retail, religious practices, social activity, eating, and family life. The combination of failing infrastructure, the growing, unmet demand for clean water, and an opportunity for easily implementing change, makes Mumbai a key location for this creative yet practical initiative.

regional. emergeMUMBAI started by creating the first ever map of flood points in greater Mumbai. This investigation of where and why the flooding occurs led to regional solutions the city could use. This analysis determined the location of high-risk sites, including government housing sites possibly up for redevelopment. The investigation continued by focusing on one critical, 100-acre site. Located close to the Mithi River, the site is able to accommodate for the proposed redevelopment population, surrounding slums, and relocation of a slum along the Mithi river.

site. The strategy creates a site that maintains and uses all rainwater on site, while taking into consideration spatial and cultural issues for Mumbai’s water use and city life. The plan is shown on three levels: underground water system, ground floor public spaces, and above ground housing. Research proved that, despite the government’s beliefs, the underground tank system would need to be more elaborate than sub-building tanks. The underground master plan shows initial catchments and over flow tanks below open space, providing easier maintenance. Water flows by gravity and can be held underground on-site, until filtered and used.

block. The master plan features four types of public spaces. Main streets are the most public of the spaces, followed by five large parks. Each block has green space for recreation while buildings have smaller courtyards for tenants. The ground floor of each building, on the public street side, is used for temporary or informal retail, religion and gathering space. Private areas are used for storing and gathering water, community chores, and activities. The relationships between public/private spaces and housing, circulation and main streets were determined with regards to program.

Video montages clearly demonstrate the spatial implications of the proposal on the intense population, use and activity in Mumbai. Mumbai is a city, which wants to be cosmopolitan, and to a certain extent is. However, the populations of these sites are unable to progress past traditional living methods.

detailed water movement. The concept of ablution- using water to cleanse oneself - is important in many religions practiced in Mumbai. This concept of flushing is brought to the redevelopment plan. Instead of the monsoons being a perennial problem, this system uses the monsoons as a cleansing of the land, flushing each block. During the monsoons, the water moves through the ground story of the block (the building is elevated on columns), and into the underground filtration system. Water from the roof vertically filters to become potable and is stored at ground level.

An axonometric shows the specific water movement through one filtration route. Water moves through a settling tank, flocculation and coagulation, and several filters, until a play pump brings water to ground level where it flows through the slow-sand-dobi-ghat filtration tank (the system I designed is a filtration tank, paired with usage bins, derived from a modern Indian laundry system). The end result here is grey water, but is clean enough for laundry and bathing.


Slow-sand-dobi-ghat filtration tank details: this section shows the tank's build, process and location. Water from the play pump drips into the sand, moves through and out a faucet into the bins. A photo montage shows its influence from the public laundry.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Block drainage section: this section shows two typical rainfall routes: the blue vertically filters to apartments and potable water tanks, while the red route flushes the ground plane, entering the underground filtration systems.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Statistical ran and water consumption data: comparison of rainfall and catchment size shows the system holds Mumbai's maximum recorded rainfall (in a 24 hours period). Consumption graph indicates that, although rainfall cannot accommodate for 100% of the site's water demand, it can alleviate the water deficit.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Video montage, public street: still frames from a video montage, (combining a 3d model with footage from Mumbai), show the character of the public street. The video and audio components help to represent the intensity and texture of the place.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Green-space perspective: this green space is used for members of the block. It will typically be used for recreational activities, but it conveniently located next to community water basins and laundry; kids can play while parents are working.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Green-space video montage: this montage combines Mumbai footage with an animation to juxtapose two of the public spaces. The street and the block green-space, footage from Mumbai gives texture to these spaces, while showing their relationship to the underground tank system.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
Courtyard perspective: the most private of the public spaces is the courtyard, the courts bring sunlight into all the apartments, while the filtration tanks are shaded by the building, protecting workers from the heat.
(Photo: Robyn Perkins)
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