The Great FSI Debate: FSI versus Quality of Life

Floor Space Index is a tool for optimum ‘land consumption’ and ‘building density’. There is an on-going discussion about vertical cities and increasing FSI three or four times in India cities, which are primarily cities ‘ground level cities’ till now. To do judicious and optimum use of land in the present day ‘constraint’ situations is understandable, but to view it in isolation and thereby just one and only solution for solving the urban problems of our cities is problematic.

The FSI debate fails to address some core issues such as density of people versus the density of built. By increasing FSI, for certain there is increase in the density of people, extra pressure on the infrastructure that now has to accommodate this new density, resultant loss of ‘greens’ – if the high densification is not managed properly and to add to the pool of issues- comes the very poor urban governance and management in Indian cities as of now.

Greater FSI is a point of discussion not just in Mumbai, but also in Delhi and Gurgaon. Delhi with its new Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is at least in its plan first addressing the issue of infrastructure and thereby based on a good quality infrastructure that has the ability to absorb or soak more ‘density of people’ is debating the idea of increased FSI. But in case of cities like Gurgaon, which have failed in providing basic infrastructure, utilities, necessary lung spaces etc. to talk about FSI as a quick fix solution is neither feasible nor sustainable. Increasing FSI without addressing the issues of infrastructure and urban management will only result in a very poor ‘Quality of life’.

Discussion therefore should be around ‘Quality of life’ rather than jumping at one solution of FSI that can never ever work in isolation with its other urban players- so to speak – namely infrastructure, public and green spaces and a very good urban governance and management system.

This post is part of the “Great FSI Debate “. What’s your view? Submit your opinion to along with a bio & pic.

Mumbai (Bombay), RTW 2012
Creative Commons License photo credit: ana_ge

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About the Author

Nidhi Batra Nidhi Batra is a Consulting Editor with ‘The Urban Vision’. She is a development sector practitioner with areas of specialization as participatory planning, environmental urban design, green architecture, urban governance and urban poverty aspects. She is presently involved with The World Bank and Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA). She has been awarded UNEP fellowship and Rockefeller Fellowship in the past that has given her the opportunity to study aspects of environmental urban design in Germany and Inclusive development in South Africa. She has worked in large scale master planning work in National and International contexts.