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New Delhi is the capital of India, and a master-planned metropolis. Its unplanned spaces such as Urban Villages, Unauthorized Colonies and Jhuggi Jhopri Clusters tend to be seen as the margins of the planned city. Yet a majority of citizens live and work in these unplanned areas of the city.

For millions of Delhi-ites, the non-planned areas are sources of affordable rental housing as well as employment, as locations for thousands of small businesses and workshops. These spaces and the economies and communities they contain, are connected to the planned city through complex political and economic arrangements. These spaces and forms -- unplanned and planned, informal and formal -- are overlapping and constitutive of a larger system and set of arrangements which we call “The Invisible City.” We use the term "the Invisible City" because architects, planners and social scientists rarely find out how these spaces function as a whole.

Through interviews, surveys and mapping of specific neighborhoods in the city, this interdisciplinary project seeks to utilize expertise from urban planning, architecture and the social sciences to look at Economic, Politics and Space together in the making of a place. Our work is intended to open up questions in order to generate new concepts about urban space in a globalizing nation-state.


New Delhi, Informality, Cities, Formal, Economy, Politics, Urbanization, Globalization, South Asia, India, Unauthorized Colonies

Presentation at Penn Urban Studies Colloquium: Delhi, the Invisible City