This experiment in affordable housing led to the co-designing and construction of a small house in Shivaji Nagar, in Govandi. A neighbourhood in Mumbai that is struggling against all odds to keep growing and improving.
The Homegrown Cities project in Mumbai was started a few months back. Its aim is to work with local actors (residents and builders) in low-income neighbourhoods to produce good quality affordable housing.
urbz is currently involved in the design and construction of a few structures in Shivaji Nagar, Govandi (M Ward), one of Mumbai’s largest resettlement colonies in which erstwhile slum dwellers were re-located in the 1980s.
Shivaji Nagar in M ward has become the latest poster-habitat for all that is wrong about Mumbai’s living situation but in our opinion (as well as of many groups working here), is a cesspool of potential, possibility, talent, skills and resources.
Through hard work and constant investment in improving their homes, people in Shivaji Nagar have already helped transform an extreme and intense habitat – touching a garbage dump that is a repository of the unprocessed waste of more than ten million inhabitants of the metropolis – into a vibrant neighbourhood.
Shivaji Nagar is very much on the city’s feverishly mobile middle class fast track – not withstanding the civic neglect (blocked drains and gutters, open garbage dumps on streets, uneven water supply like in many other parts of the city) and some seriously toxic urban waste.
In that scenario, whenever local residents could activate their own resources, they did and many managed to build good quality homes. They filled it up with regular dreams and aspirations and made some decent worlds within a seriously fractured reality. Fractured because it was affected by political turmoil in the past and continues to face large amounts of prejudice, both social and bureaucratic.
The Handstorm Workshop will draw on energies that flow from creative manual involvement, acknowledging that it is always wired to the brain, to form a collective of power that (we hope) attracts attention from the rest of the city, especially its authorities.
The Handstorm Workshop will bring together talent from Shivaji Nagar, surrounding areas and from all over the world to work at 3 levels: furniture/interior, architecture/construction, and infrastructure/streets. These are all dimensions of everyday life where small improvement can make a huge difference. The workshop will connect the creativity and skills of designers, architects and artists with those of carpenters, masons, plumbers and contractors to produce the kind of innovations that can only happen when knowledge flows both ways.
The workshop will involve a live, studio-cum-exhibition space in which residents will participate, examine, exhibit, give feedback on a range of products and prototypes such as furniture, wall units, street furniture, plants, trees, model houses, construction materials and 3-D planning models.
The aim is to co-create objects, techniques, tools and models that are break-through designs and user-friendly in the context of homegrown habitats.
We are inviting (but not financing) a limited number of talented and motivated people to join the workshop. If you are interested, please contact us.