urbz was born in Dharavi, Mumbai. Our first event in the neighbourhood was a week-long "Urban Typhoon" workshop in 2008 with about 100 participants coming from Dharavi Koliwada, as well as other parts of Mumbai, India, and the world. We had been invited by the Koli community to imagine an alternative to the first Dharavi Redevelopment Project. The Kolis were asserting the status of their settlement as a village, which predate the British and Portuguese colonisation of Mumbai.
Our friend and mentor Bhau Korde helped us organize the workshop and mobilize the community. Bhau rose to prominence in Dharavi during the 1992-1993 Mumbai riots - when he and fellow Dharavi resident Waqar Khan advocated for Communal Harmony between all the religions and castes present in Dharavi. At the end of the workshop, Bhau told us that it was a great event, but that now we would all leave and they would stay and nothing would change. This is when we decided to stay and opened our first tiny office on Dharavi's MG Road.
We have always kept in touch with the Koli community, which is now exempted from the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. After we moved our office into Koliwada, we made friends with more residents and artisans, including contractors who build homes in Koliwada. We started working with a few of them, helping design small houses, chawls, and community halls.
This collection presents construction projects that we have been working on for the past 4 to 5 years in Dharavi Koliwada.