1st Edition

Negotiating Resilience with Hard and Soft City

Edited By Binti Singh, Tania Berger, Manoj Parmar Copyright 2023
    208 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    208 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book explores how cities are shaped by the lived experiences of inhabitants and examines the ways they develop strategies to cope with daily and unexpected challenges. It argues that migration, livelihood, and public health challenges result from inadequacies in the hard city—urban assets, such as land, infrastructure, and housing, and asserts that these challenges and escalating vulnerabilities are best negotiated using the soft city—social capital and community networks. In so doing, the authors criticise a singular knowledge system and argue for a granular, nuanced understanding of cities—of the interrelations between people in places, everyday urbanisms, social relationships, cultural practices, and histories. The volume presents perspectives from the Global South and the Global North and engages with city-specific cases from Africa, India, and Europe for a deeper understanding of resilience.

    Part of the Urban Futures series, it will be of great interest to students and researchers of urban studies, urban planning, urban management, architecture, urban sociology, urban design, ecology, conservation, and urban sustainability. It will also be useful for urbanists, architects, urban sociologists, city and town planners, policy makers, and those interested in a deeper understanding of the contemporary and future city.

    List of figures

    List of contributors

    Foreword: Adapt or Die by Sheela Patel



    1 Negotiating Resilience with Hard and Soft City

    Binti Singh, Tania Berger, and Manoj Pamar

    PART I: City and Its Vulnerabilities

    2 Ethnically Diverse Neighborhoods and the New Meaning of “Community” in the Global North

    Tania Berger

    3 Resilient Tactics and Everyday Lives in the Textile Mill Areas of Mumbai

    Dwiparna Chatterjee

    4 Informal Housing of Migrants in Italy

    Flavia Albanese, Giovanna Marconi, and Michela Semprebon

    5 Cities, Housing Exclusion, and Homelessness from a European Perspective

    Nicholas Pleace

    6 Just and Healthy Cities in Times of Global Threats: Perspectives from the Global North

    Heike Köckler

    The Case of Settling Deonar Dump Yard Site, Mumbai

    Mamta Patwardhan and Tania Berger

    Environmental Injustice: Air Pollution and Data Inequity in Kibera, Nairobi

    Surbhi Agrawal

    PART II: Relocation, Resettlement, and Resilience

    7 Resilience at the City Margins—Roma Settlements in Bulgaria

    Ilko Yordanov and Boyan Zahariev

    8 Tolerance to Heat as a Coping Strategy of Low-Income Households in India and Austria

    Tania Berger and Faiz Ahmed Chundeli

    9 Home-Based Income Generation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Alemea Girmay and Tania Berger

    10 “Nothing Is to Be Gained by Involving Them”: Exploring Residents’ Lived Experiences of Resettlement in a Medium-Sized City in India

    Hiranmayi Shankavaram, Janani Thiagarajan, and Tania Berger

    11 The Vertical versus Horizontal City: Why Vertical Resettlement (Mostly) Does Not Work for the Urban Poor

    Tania Berger

    12 Conclusion: Towards Just Resilience

    Tania Berger, Binti Singh, Manoj Parmar, and Sandeep Balagangadharan Menon


    Binti Singh is an urban sociologist and holds a PhD (in urban studies) and an MPhil (in planning and development) from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Bombay), Mumbai, India. She is currently Dean (Research and Academic Development) at KRVIA, Mumbai, India. She is engaged in diverse international research programmes with universities like the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, University of Cambridge, UK. She also supervises Masters’ and PhD students in various international universities including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Virginia, USA. On 12 January 2023, she received an award from the Governor of Maharashtra, India, for her contribution to academic research in cultural sustainability.

    Tania Berger is a trained architect and holds a PhD in construction and building sciences, incorporating a strong focus on social science. She heads the cluster Social sPACe based research in built Environment (SPACE) at the Department for Building and Environment at Danube University Krems, Austria, which works on issues of integration in housing on a national level and global urbanisation processes and precarious housing in an international context. She coordinates Erasmus projects in the field of “Capacity Building in Higher Education” with a focus on informal settlements in India and Ethiopia.

    Manoj Parmar is currently Director at KRVIA, Mumbai, India. He holds a bachelor’s in architecture from the L.S. Raheja School of Architecture, Mumbai, India, and an M.Arch from the University of Miami, Florida, USA. He has been teaching at KRVIA, Mumbai, since 1992. His academic interests include theoretical writings on architecture and urbanism. He has also been in private practice of architecture and urban design since 1992. In a career spanning more than 30 years, he has worked on numerous private and public housing/institutional commissions across India and has been actively involved in redevelopment projects across the city of Mumbai. He received an award from the Governor of Maharashtra, India, for his contribution to academic research in cultural sustainability on the 12th of January 2023.

    "The expert-driven knowledge systems that have been dominating urban design and planning are increasingly falling short of providing sustainable solutions to the crises posed by climate change. The book Negotiating Resilience with Hard and Soft City captures the nerves of people’s knowledge that guides judgements and actions to cope with uncertainties in their everyday city lives. The book challenges the notion of a singular knowledge system in an urban ecosystem and staunchly advocates for the recognition of multiple micro-knowledge systems that cohabit and shape the city."

    Dr Rajesh Tandon, Founder President, PRIA
    Dr Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay, Director, PRIA


    "Negotiating Resilience with Hard and Soft City is cutting edge and is of high value for everyone who wants to gain more insight of some of the key frontiers of contemporary cities. Such a demarcation line is the book’s underlying proposition that we urgently need a better understanding of the ‘survival’ strategies of the most marginalised and poor to tackle our vast planetary challenges. In this vein the authors focus on the livelihoods and experiences of displacement of migrants and informal settlement dwellers from the global north and global south and expand urban concepts such as resilience, vulnerability, urban justice, and the ‘people as infrastructure’. The result is a timely, relevant and inspiring anthology."

    Peter Gotsch, Professor in Sustainable Urban Development, Norwegian University of Science and Technology


    "The book Negotiating Resilience with Hard and Soft City is a timely contribution to understanding why intangible aspects of city life, such as civil society activities and a sense of community, are as relevant as the ‘hard infrastructure’. The editors and authors of the book have extensive knowledge of how this duality affects the life of urban dwellers in the Global North and South. The book is a source of critical reflection for scholars and students of Urban Planning, Urban Geography, Urban Studies and disciplines engaged with understanding the problems of contemporary cities. It will also inform those questioning current narratives around the resilience concept, its complexity and challenges. To that knowledge, the book draws on several case studies and focuses on urban residents and the micro level, those spaces that shape the city. The different contributions show how the ‘hard city’ conditions the livelihood of urban dwellers, the ‘soft city’, and how people, in turn, cope with those imposed challenges."

    Javier Martinez, Associate Professor – Coordinator of the Urban Planning and Management Specialization, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management, University of Twente