The Homegrown Street: Making of Afzar Ali’s House

UPDATED: A photo essay narrating the experience of making the model of Afzar Ali’s house in Sangam Gully Dharavi. A G+3 structure designed by Giriraj, a contractor from Dharavi

The Homegrown Street project has reached the phase where the physical models of all the houses are to be made. The first physical model to be made for the Homegrown Street project began with discussions regarding Afzar Ali’s house in Sangam Gully, Dharavi. It was a G+3 structure designed by Giriraj, a contractor from Dharavi.

The process started with multiple, elaborate conversations with a master artisan in wood, Manoj, and the contractor, Giriraj. Since this was the first time making a composite model in steel and wood, these design discussions helped us find clarity.

Discussions over design changes and material selection of House-3 with Giriraj, Manoj and the urbz team
Discussions over design changes and material selection of House-3 with Giriraj, Manoj and the urbz team

Having previously experienced the work by steel artisans in Khetwadi, it was decided to get the steel frame built by artisans from that area, while the woodworking would be done by Manoj in the Urbz office in Dharavi. 

Working in Dharavi and Khetwadi at the same time was the biggest challenge. Collaborating and coordinating while being at two places at the same time was tricky.

The steel work to be done in Khetwadi while the woodwork is to be done in Dharavi.
The steel work to be done in Khetwadi while the woodwork is to be done in Dharavi.
The bustling street in Khetwadi. Introduction to Sarfaraz, the steel artisan involved in this project.
The bustling street in Khetwadi. Introduction to Sarfaraz, the steel artisan involved in this project.

Metal pieces were to be welded before any of the woodworking began. However, several small changes constantly needed to be made due to material constraints.

Sarfaraz and Eklaakh in their workshop, working together to grind and cut the pieces.
Sarfaraz and Eklaakh in their workshop, working together to grind and cut the pieces.
Getting the steel pieces cut and threaded before they get welded to form the mainframe of the model.
Getting the steel pieces cut and threaded before they get welded to form the mainframe of the model.

It was essential to keep in mind how all the different aspects of the model were to come together before beginning any part of the production. The columns of each floor had to be threaded before they were welded so that the wooden slab could be screwed tight onto the column. 

 

In the workshop overseeing the welding process, while trying not to get in the way of all the workers there.
In the workshop overseeing the welding process, while trying not to get in the way of all the workers there.

While the team in Khetwadi got the beams welded onto the frame using brass, the rest were in the office assisting Manoj as he cut and treated the wooden pieces needed for the slabs and walls. 

 

Manoj at the office, preparing the wooden members to be cut and modified according to the steel frame.
Manoj at the office, preparing the wooden members to be cut and modified according to the steel frame.

There were a few unforeseen hurdles that came along the way. The process required a lot of back and forth between all the parties involved. Some of the challenges faced during the initial production of the model were changes in material size and type, small measurements, and most importantly making sure that both the artisans were on the same page. It was a challenge to get all parties to agree to key material decisions.

 

Cutting and contemplating at the Urbz office.
Cutting and contemplating at the Urbz office.
Cutting and fixing of walls.
Cutting and fixing of walls.

After all the material decisions were made Manoj started fixing the walls and he showed his skills by adding small details.

Fixing of the staircase. Details such as the chajja, staircase and the roof were designed by Manoj.
Fixing of the staircase. Details such as the chajja, staircase and the roof were designed by Manoj.
Making of the chajja
Making of the chajja
Several iterations of the roof made by Manoj. The pitch of the roof had to be readjusted to increase its efficiency.
Several iterations of the roof made by Manoj. The pitch of the roof had to be readjusted to increase its efficiency.
Further he also created different patterns for the parapet wall on the first floor, to bring in more character to the front façade.
Further he also created different patterns for the parapet wall on the first floor, to bring in more character to the front façade.

The making of this model is well underway and has been a source of a lot of learning. This is the first composite model made in two different parts of the city at the same time, and it has come with many challenges. The next stage of the model will be to cut and fit the walls, slabs and the ornamental elements of the model, to complete it. Stay tuned.

 

Manoj whose main work is making interiors for actual houses, paid special attention to the interiors of this house.
Manoj whose main work is making interiors for actual houses, paid special attention to the interiors of this house.