Liz Eve

Maximum City: Dizzying Images of Mumbai's Sky-High Building Boom

by , 01/22/14


Mumbai Supertalls, Alicja Dobrucka, High Rise Living, Urban Development, Mumbai Architecture, Mumbai Skyscrapers

A large number of Mumbai’s towers are designed by European architects. Dobrucka is interested in intercultural transfer and feels “that the architecture of the newly builds is ‘borrowed’ from western office constructions which have mutated into these huge glass and concrete structures, which in India serve residential purposes.” In addition she points out that “the materials used for the new construction are not local and damage the environment. Large glass windows require air conditioning, which in turn increases the consumption of electricity.”

Even the so called ‘eco’ Atilla residence raises many questions about sustainability. The 27-story building, built for a single family in a city where the average dweller has just 4.5 square meters, has understandably attracted criticism and allegations of greenwashing. With flats out of reach of the majority, 60% of Mumbai’s residents live in slums.

Mumbai Supertalls, Alicja Dobrucka, High Rise Living, Urban Development, Mumbai Architecture, Mumbai Skyscrapers

Dobrucka cleverly uses phrases from marketing brochures as titles for her dystopian images of skyscrapers set amongst Mumbai’s sprawling slums. “Wake up every day to a spectacular view of the blue sky romancing the sea. Come home to beach side joys.” reads the caption to an image of row after row of blue plastic topped slums filling the view from one of the towers. One would hope both for the slum dweller and skyscraper tenant that city planners and developers can find a way to create positive urban environments for all.

Shooting the series was not an easy task for the artist using a large format 5×4 camera. “As soon as you pull out a tripod the problems start,” she says. “In India the first answer you get is a ‘No! Not possible.’ and you have to find a way to make it into ‘Yes!’”

The series will be shown at Columbia University’s Studio X in Mumbai and Bohnuk Institute in the UK in 2014.

+ Alicja Dobrucka

Via Gizmodo

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2 Comments

  1. iShiva January 23, 2014 at 5:03 am

    as a Real Mumbai Resident from generations i can honestly say, the city has gone to the Rotten > Politicians, Builders, Bureaucrats and Businessmen who have parked their illicit wealth in the city’s Real Estate creating the so called boom. Mumbai has lost character, originality and most importantly humanity, with cubby hole size apartments in these highrises costing more than a townhouse in suburban New York or Toronto, while offering no quality or standard of living. The corruption and indifference to the plight of the general population most of who cant afford these apartments and r forced to move on the fringes of the city, travelling almost a 100kms daily to their workplaces in poor transportation, is appalling.

  2. Calvin K January 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Transition is often awkward. The discrepancies between grass-rooted development and huge infusion of outside money from the developers are often jarring and part of the process. Although now we know so much about this built form since the post-war era, it’s unfortunate that late-comers to the game don’t seem to learn from the experience and improve on it.

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