An aerial view of Mumbai is enough to provide us a glimpse of the unconventional growth of the city. Mumbai is the third densest city in the world trailing just behind Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka and the Pakistani city of Hyderabad. There are approximately 32,400 people in every square kilometre of its land area. The city has, technically, run out of space and yet, it is more than accommodating at the same time. How is that possible? The answer is vertical growth.
What is Vertical Growth?
Vertical growth is the emergence of high rises and skyscrapers that outline the horizon of the city. These structures support the population of the city, providing additional living space to the thousands who migrate here every day. It is the modern world’s solution to the space constraint faced by cities.
Another important reason why the city is witnessing vertical growth is because Mumbai has the largest number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) in India, at 1,094, followed by Delhi with 545, according to property services firm Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2016.
HNIs most preferred investment opportunity tends to be property. The average number of residential properties owned by wealthy Indians stands at four, which is the highest in the world, while the global average stands at 3.7.
When not only immigrants, but also HNIs occupy the city, the need for vertical growth has become necessary. Vertical growth helps in population management; high rises provide sufficient living space even with the limited land space.
High rises integrate various facilities like gyms, clubs and departmental stores within their building space instead of occupying more land surrounding the high-rise. This is indicative of the fact that vertical growth inspires sustainable ideas.
Vertical growth also frees up more land space: While the whole intention of high rises was to cope with the limited land space, vertical growth is ensuring that we are actually conserving precious land space which can be turned into green spaces or public recreation zones.
One of the best examples of vertical growth in the city is redevelopment.
Housing redevelopment refers to the process of reconstruction of a residential premise by demolition of the existing structure and construction of a new one as per approvals from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). Redevelopment is a concept that uses vertical growth as a driving force to provide good living spaces for people in a crowded city like Mumbai.
Of course, redevelopment is dependent on FSI or Floor Space Index. In India, FSI restrictions tend to hinder the optimization of a concept like vertical growth. Compared to international cities, India is far behind. Shanghai has an FSI of 13.1, while New York and Manhattan have an FSI of 15. Mumbai, on the other hand, is still grappling with an FSI of 3.0. Higher FSI is a need of the day because taller buildings are necessary to combat city- congestion.
A versatile concept that can incorporate sustainable development, vertical growth helps us to make the best of the very real space-crunch situation we find ourselves in.