Every team realised that the business they were studying had a large footprint, one that extended beyond the confines of the neighbourhood. Team Papad discovered that papad, while laid and dried in Dharavi, is prepared elsewhere in Mumbai and occasionally sent somewhere else for processing. Team Idli followed their idli-wallah to Kurla to compare the business inside and outside of Dharavi. The leather and broom teams found links from the Dharavi unit to Karnataka and even Dubai. Some networks, like in the case of the Garment Team, led them back to Gujarat!
The idea behind Scale up/Scale was to pay attention to how specific objects in the house represent larger relationships. For example, objects of daily use like the bed, the cupboard, the child’s study table or objects of exchange, such as food, clothes and tools made or consumed by people often form the heart of households. At the same time, the house is embedded and networked with the street as a whole with people sharing walls, access streets, water, sewage, drainage pipes and electricity wires all of which are part of larger urban grids. The world from the outside can be omnipresent in the house through transport and communication networks – or embodied in the person who moves all over the neighbourhood and city and beyond for work or leisure. This is possibly the most important lesson we learnt from the workshop – Dharavi has strong ties not only within its boundaries but ones whose sphere of influence extend to the rest of the city, the country and often to various different parts of the world.
The workshop also provided the students with a platform to display their stories as their first public exhibition at urbz’ own gallery. Having invited all of the families with whom they had spent an entire week, the participants were hard at work to show all the material they had collected. Some even borrowed personal objects from the families and put it on display. Pictures, selfies, explanations carried on through the night. There seemed to be a sense of pride at having successfully exhibited all their work to the families that they had been intricately involved with over the past week.
‘So, what do you think of Dharavi now?’ we asked the students on the last day. ‘I always imagined that Dharavi was a scary place. It’s not like that at all’, said one. ‘It was surprising to find that the families we interacted with have the same dreams and aspirations as us’, said another. Steering away from the typical architecture workshop which deals with building design and construction, the workshop pushed the students to think beyond the building unit and explore the networks that its activities create. Most importantly, the workshop busted preconceived notions of Dharavi, with the students promising to return for part two.