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Gendered spaces: a socio-spatial study in the informal settlement Dharavi in Mumbai
Blekinge Institute of Technology, School of Planning and Media Design.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis explores the relation between built form and sociocultural relationships with Dharavi in Mumbai as a case. The study explores gender segregation and the relation between use of space and urban form and in what way the built structure and its functions influence the everyday life. The thesis is based on and discusses theories about globalisation, public space, use of space and gender relationships. The data collected in field through observations and interviews shows a difference in use, activities and access within the three analysed areas of Dharavi. To sort out and understand these relationships the result is discussed through interviews, observations and literature analysis. Today more people are living in cities than in rural areas. A consequence of the rapid urbanisation has been an increase of informal settlements or “slums” without basic service and sanitary facilities. India has since the 1960’s undertaken various policies and schemes to tackle the issues of slums. The policies have ranged from eviction and slum clearances to social housing initiatives and relocation of communities. Lately, the government and other stakeholders as well as NGOs have initiated upgrading projects of existing structures together with the communities to improve housing and infrastructure. However, in Mumbai where land prices and density are high and the political vision aims to create a world-class city, the present schemes are market-driven with multi-storey buildings planned from a top-down perspective. The housing situation for the urban poor has not been solved and many of the new areas are criticised as problematic with the consequence of turning into vertical slums. The ongoing redevelopment process in Dharavi provides an example of a conventional large-scale development, where informal and incrementally developed structures are proposed to be replaced by skyscrapers and elevated walkways. The thesis brings attention to the local relationships and the importance of understanding the local context as well as social and cultural constructions in the field of planning. The presented result shows that social roles and power structures are expressed in the way men and women experience and use spaces as a consequence of unequal conditions in society. Women are often restricted to the space close to their homes and semi-private spaces showed to be highly important for everyday activities and primarily domestic work. In redevelopment processes the space in between buildings as well as gender segregation are often neglected. A difference in accessibility and movement between groups in relation to built form may enlighten the discussion of how the development of our cities influence the way life is lived. A consciousness about segregating social structures and social implications on urban form is therefore highly desirable. Suggestions on urban form as enabling instead of restricting and components for a gender- sensitive urban design are presented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 136 p.
Keyword [en]
Slum, informal settlements, urban planning, use of space, gender, urban form, hierarchy of spaces, gender-sensitive urban design, India, Dharavi.
National Category
Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-3840Local ID: diva2:831153
Available from: 2015-04-22 Created: 2013-12-17 Last updated: 2015-06-30Bibliographically approved

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