KUMARTULI, KOLKATA

3rd prize, 6th International Association for Humane Habitat (2008)

The cultural and social relevance of work space and dwelling is affected when commercial and political ideals of ruling institutions attempt to change urban space for the better. Global and local seasonal demand for the products of Indian cottage industries have resulted in extreme population shifts, amplifying problems of housing and infrastructure. The problem is not just seen in quantitative terms but in the erosion of meaningful landscapes supporting traditional economies and the fragmentation of city spaces according to class or economic distinctions. With changes in income groups and demographics, so will demand for housing, business and communal spaces. The studio investigates such changes to emergent need in an attempt to prevent cultural and social erosion. The following questions guided the research:

If economic activity and dwelling have extremely fluctuating demands on land usage, how are these relationships understood in spatial terms in the context of Kolkata?

If the workforce comprises craftsmen and artisans of different classes, then how does this condition distribute space in a contemporary work-dwelling? If there is a great divide between space standards for the modern and traditional production facilities, then what possible solutions would lead to social and environmental improvement?

What public interfaces arise from new forms of dwelling in the settlement? What resources are collectively shared and how do these form a network of social spaces? What is the relationship between dwelling, city and space in the context of commercial viability? What extent of infrastructure has to be developed to enable improvement in productivity and dwelling conditions?

The answers to these questions concern the survival of traditionally dense settlements which remain viable in a global economy.

KUMARTULI, KOLKATA