Meet Gurgaon: A Patch-work Private City without Sewage System

Gurgaon is a city in India, where many private housing enclaves are located and run by private management companies. With no municipal services, the private management companies provide key urban facilities only within the gates of the enclaves.

The practice draws a horrendous picture of the piecemeal private provision of municipal services, replacing sewage system with gigantic septic tanks, dumping sewage to public land, replacing police force with the army of private security, dodgy lost spaces between the housing enclaves…

A patchwork of private services emerges, but only within property lines. “If you’re living inside the development, everything looks great. It looks like you have functional sewage, but those lines are not connected to a main line. They go nowhere.” Instead, the sewage collects in a septic tank at the edge of the property. The building’s owner contracts a tanker truck to ferry the sewage to a dumping ground or river.

Gurgaon’s developers can weather shortages in electricity by using diesel-powered generators … which serve only their own properties. They’ve beefed up the city’s 4,000-strong police force with an army of 35,000 private security guards.  (ideas.ted.com)

Another controversial topic regarding this developments is their relationship with surrounding slum areas.

Sewage trucks will frequently bypass treatment plants and dump their contents on public land, and while it poses a health hazard to nearby slums, public officials don’t have the resources to counter such infractions.(ideas.ted.com)

What we see here is double exploitation of the urban space: on one hand, exclusive private provision of municipal services is hampering public provision; on the other hand, the enclaves expulse their unwanted bits to the surroundings such as dumping their sewage on public land.

All in all, we should ask ourselves, if we want to live in such an unsustainable dystopia before it is too late. Because this is what we are heading towards with a speed of light in this level of the commodification of urban space.

High Rise (2016) – Ever wanted something more?

Ben Wheatley shot a movie about my thesis 😀 Can’t wait to see 🙂

The movie is based on J.G. Ballard’s novel written in the 1970s. However, considering the housing situation, condo developments, branded housing projects, housing enclaves, and various forms of exclusionary housing, it is very much about contemporary urban issues.

High-Rise is a 2015 British science fiction action thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley, starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy and Keeley Hawes. The screenplay by Amy Jump is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by J.G. Ballard. It was produced by Jeremy Thomas through his production company Recorded Picture Company.

In September 2015, the film received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and its European premiere at the 63rd San Sebastián Film Festival. The film is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 18 March 2016 by StudioCanal.

Check amazing trailers out! I absolutely love that they shot the first trailer as a housing project advertisement.

 

Taking Our Streets Back: Stripping Them of the Advertisements?

Comic by Gavin Aung Than

They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you, now it is time to take it back…

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you. You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity. Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head. You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.” -BANSKY

Vietnam’s Housing Enclaves Where Even the Air is Cleaner!

 

Wide spread of gated communities is global with different scales, characteristics and contingencies.

 

Gated communities and vast, privately built and managed “new towns” like these have spread across southeast Asia over the last 20 years as rising levels of inequality have redefined the region’s cities. Vietnam as a whole has seen a dramatic reduction in poverty over the same period – but inequality is growing, and becoming increasingly marked in the country’s expanding urban areas. (Guardian)

 

Rise in equality is the major drive behind this spread. Check this out rent for a villa in Ciputra housing enclave is 25 times the minimum wage in Vietnam! 25 times!

 

Beyond Ciputra’s walls, villas painted shades of beige are set amid lush private gardens – with price-tags of as much as £3,000 a month to rent (25 times the minimum wage). A world unto itself, the complex is a land of Greek revival architecture, tennis courts and amenities including a beauty salon and a post office. The United Nations International School moved there in 2004, followed by two other private schools, and a private kindergarten. Under construction still are a mega-shopping mall and a private hospital. (Guardian)

 

Well take a deep breath, or not! The most disgraceful part of the story of Vietnam’s housing enclaves is the commodification of air!

 

While security concerns and a fear of urban crime are typically among the motives driving the elite behind walls in cities in South America and sub-Saharan Africa, in Hanoi developments are increasingly being marketed as exclusive enclaves of convenience and clean air, away from the air pollution and traffic congestion of the city. (Guardian)

 

Traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam         Image Credit: Guardian

But, not everything is smooth, thanks to ordinary folk 🙂

Locals protesting development of a housing enclave Image Credit: Guardian

For the full story check Inside Hanoi’s gated communities

Meet Nigeria’s Private City: Same Story, Extreme Location

Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – a vision of privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms. Protected by guards, guns, and an insurmountable gully – real estate prices – the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising. A world in which the rich and powerful exploit the global ecological crisis to widen and entrench already extreme inequalities and seal themselves off from its impacts – this is climate apartheid. (Guardian)

 

Eco Atlantic is one of the mushrooming private cities all around the world. The pattern shows us an extreme version of rising inequalities. While the rest of the society struggles with the lack of urban services, this private island provides upper – middle classes all the services privately and exclusively. As it is argued in this Guardian article, this is a form of apartheid.

Unless accessing the key urban infrastructure is considered as a human right, we will see these extreme versions of ultra-exclusive spaces.

Wait.. What!? Steampunk-themed Condo!

Well,  I must admit, I love steampunk!

The first thing to say is that this is not steampunk, but a farce Victorian themed selling campaign.

The project is No.15 Renwick, which is located in New York city near Hudson Squareç. The location is defined as the last underdeveloped corner of Manhattan by Observer.

hudson square 01 Hudson Square Rising: Last Corner of Undeveloped Manhattan Starts Rezoning Process Monday

Image Credit: Observer

The project is self-avowed as steampunk to attract rich hipsters to this ’boutique’ condo development.

A new luxury development called 15 Renwick in New York is giving built form to steampunk. That’s right, steampunk: that dark, Victoriana-obsessed cousin of Renaissance festivals and Star Trek conventions is now a theme for condos. I’m sorry to report that it gets worse: Steampunk is the entire pitch for the building. (cityLab)

The condo’s campaign uses the theme to attract residents and buyers by also using the ‘characters’:

Image IGI-USA

I have to say that I am quite curious about the responses to such campaign as well. Especially to steampunk boxer!?

Do these characters make you want to live in such an apartment building? Do you want to be like one of these characters? Does the imaginary life they are presenting attractive?

The sales of the units have even been launched by a costume party. It is a striking example showing how far using theming can go in promoting urban spaces. The campaign packages a themed life for the residents with every detail. Let’s check cityLab’s analysis of one of the visuals the project uses:

Let’s take stock of what this rich hipster’s boutique life entails:

—Tome with quill and ink, for writing one’s paper Tumblr
—Vast cape draped over the chair
—There is definitely an airship out the window
—Not just a carafe of cognac, but an artfully spilled goblet
—That hair tho
—Marble bust on an Isamu Noguchi coffee table
—Are those shields? (cityLab)

Seriously, are those shields?

No further questions..

Segregation 2.0: We live side by side, but…

New York condo which seperates the entrances for the ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ residents has sparked a discussion of contemporary patterns of spatial segregation in the cities we live in.

Luxury Apartment Building Will Have Separate Door For Poor Residents

A luxury condo building on New York City’s Upper West Side has gotten clearance from the city to have a separate entrance, or a “poor door,” for low-income tenants, according to the New York Post.

Extell, which is building the 33-story complex, will build a specific door for the 55 affordable housing units it’s including in order to be allowed to build a bigger building. The low-income units, which are available to people making 60 percent of median income or less, will also be in a segment that only contains affordable apartments and that faces the street while the luxury apartments will face the river.

Details can be found in New York Post article (City OKs UWS development with ‘poor door’ for residents) and Business Insider articles (New York City Approves Controversial ‘Poor Door’ In Luxury Condo An NYC High Rise Is Putting In Separate Entrances For Rich And Poor Renters)

The New York condo is not the only example for poor doors. Such practice can be found in London condos, as well. See Poor doors: the segregation of London’s inner-city flat dwellers

Multimillion pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances.

One Commercial Street development

(Image Credit: Sarah Lee)

The image shows the One Commercial Street apartment’s ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ entrances. No need to mention which one is for whom.

This practice is a part of building affordable housing units in central areas of the cities where the land rents are at the highest points. In that sense, Owen Hatherley’s commentary in Guardian shows the contradictions of relying on private developers for affordable housing: ‘Poor doors’ show why we can’t rely on developers for affordable housing

Reformism in local government has a Faustian history, often involving shady deals, compromised principles and unexpected outcomes as much as successful attempts to establish social justice in cities.

On the other hand, this vertical segregation is not always part of affordability problematic. For example, Metropol Istanbul Project in Istanbul builds segregated enterances for VIPs and other residents. In the case of this project, it is not aimed to have any ‘affordable units’ (although affordability of the units in previous examples can also be questioned).This project is under-contruction now, and it is designed to have ‘VIP’ entrance for the residents who live on the upper floors than 30. This is going to be a segregation between the residents who will use common entrance together with home office users of the tower and the VIPs who will have their own special entrance.

(Image Credit: guncelprojebilgileri.com)

In that sense, we have segregation within the already-segregated-spaces, and so on.

The question can be posed here as why we are so willing to live in such ‘segregated’ or ‘special’ places;

and what was Maggie saying again, “economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul“.