Redevelopment of West Bengal’s Jute Mills in Post-Industrial Kolkata, India

The Kolkata Jute Mills project, occurring in collaboration with Professor Souvanic Roy of Indian Institute of Engineering, Science, and Technology, Howrah, India, and Professor Siddhartha Sen of Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, is studying the remediation of industrial decline and potential for post-industrial redevelopment, using the case of West Bengal’s jute industry in India. The jute industry has long played an important role in the economic, physical, and social development of the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA). Political turmoil, limited capital, and synthetic fibers have left the industry in decline. Currently, jute mills exist in semi-operational states on valuable land along the Hooghly River running N-S through KMA. The rehabilitation of these jute mill buildings and land holds substantial potential to aid KMA municipalities in meeting demands for affordable housing, economic revitalization, regional ecological and open space, and socially equitable development. Limited examples of post-industrial development in India, coupled with dated land use laws, labor disputes, and a lack of capital have made redevelopment challenging for policy makers, planners, and jute mill owners.

Through semi-structured interviews, site analysis, and data collection, the proposed collaboration is analyzing challenges that impede reuse of jute mill manufacturing compounds, as well as potentials for redevelopment. The collaboration is engaging scholars from the above three universities to bring a diversity of regional and international perspectives. Through this collaboration, and through additional collaboration with relevant actors in KMA such as jute mill owners, policy and planning experts, real estate developers, and architects, we will elucidate policy and development barriers and propose resolutions to critical urban brownfield redevelopment issues in the Global South. The study commenced in the Summer of 2021 and will continue through the 2023-24 academic year.


Urban Planning and Design Strategies for the Jute Mills of Kolkata

Kolkata's jute mills were part of the sprawling network of jute production in Kolkata. Since then, they have been sitting vacant or underused in otherwise centric and lively neighborhoods. With land being in high demand and low supply in the city, these sites are an opportunity to provide much needed relief to this land pressure.

These design proposals from the Spring 2020 Kolkata Urban Design Studio embrace Kolkata's dense and dynamic urban fabric to build flexibility and organic growth into the design process.

Authors include: Xio Alvarez, Adiel Benitez, Patricia Cafferky, Somala Diby, Angelica Door, Nynika Jhaveri, Eytan Levi Yanchao Li, Tess McCann, Alberto Meouchi, Blanche Shao, Gabriela Zayas del Rio, Carmelo Ignaccolo, Arindam Dutta, and Brent D Ryan. 

Urban Planning Strategies: Report 1

Urban Design Strategies: Report 2