Keywords: Public Realm, Vending Setup, Urban Space, Informal Economy, Inclusive Design
Indian cities are known for the liveliness that projects high urban vitality in their traditional way of life. Entrepreneurial setups of varying scales grown organically at every other street, junction, and around prominent structures have been a characteristic of vibrant Indian cities.
Formal & informal vending areas coexist in a synchromesh arrangement (Parmar & Singh, 2017) to form these entrepreneurial setups. They have developed a deep social connection as an integral part of everyday life. However, current development practices in India look at formal vending areas as real estate value boosters, while informal vendors are seen as a nuisance in urban development. Their coexistence and significance beyond physical form are overlooked. While providing everyday services to the lower & middle-class, these accessible enterprising spaces create opportunities for many as a source of livelihood.
They share direct physical boundaries with the public realm. Hence the segregated & polarising urban development approach towards formal & informal vending setups is impacting the urban vitality of the public realm in Indian cities. There is an expected increase in population dependent on informal commercial activities in forthcoming years, considering the pace of urbanization & rising competition over the urban space.
Thus, to tackle a dual purpose of addressing the quality of the public realm and incorporating inclusive entrepreneurial urban areas for future livelihood opportunities, the thesis aims at understanding how formal and informal vending setups create a sense of place in the public realm. The research identifies conditions of enterprising social spaces for urban vitality by studying three cases from Mumbai & its suburban region. In the process, it acknowledges the presence of informality as a necessary fragment of a formally organized public realm.
Text & Image Credit: Mukta Nagare | Urban Design | KRVIA 2022