Winner of Design History Society Student Bursary

Design History Society Annual Conference

Awarded a bursary to deliver a paper about leisure space in India now at the Design History Society’s annual conference, which in 2013 took place at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. Here is a summary of the paper:

A New India – Leisure Space in Navi Mumbai

While Navi Mumbai, a township situated across the harbour to the east of Mumbai, was primarily developed to ease congestion in the main city itself, it was also developed as a unbridled expression of modernism, couched in the utopian concepts so evident in cities such as Chandigarh. As with the modernist templates it tried to emulate, socialist principles were at the core of the city plans, the designers intending the assimilate city should be aimed at the common man rather the than the affluent. However, the liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991 saw the utopian concept for the city erode and Navi Mumabi emerged as a haven to middle and upper class income groups.

The paper charted this change through three case studies of contemporary Navi Mumbai leisure spaces: the Central Park, the gated community of the Seawood Estate and the hyper commercial space of the Raqhueela Mall. Setting these modern examples against archival evidence of the original city plans, Priya documented the change from the cities utopian ideals to a city in-tune with the global economy. One in which local culture is overshadowed by an international design style and global consumerism.

Indeed, what the paper revealed was that Navi Mumbai can be taken, loosely, as an allegory to the development of India – the city the country’s own barometer to change from post-colonial to the a city integrated into the global economy, reflective of India’s own global ambitions of the 21st century.

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