According to Bruno Latour, we lost the future somewhere in the twentieth century. We are only left with an “avenir”. L’avenir is what comes to us as opposed to the future, which we were foolishly projecting. The externalities we produced and ignored in the process are now overwhelming us. Anticipating what is coming next requires no less creativity and foresight than drawing the future on a blank page. Our practice embraces the present – regardless of how screwed up it is – with a mix of enthusiasm and pragmatism. Instead of inventing the ‘city of the future’ (smart or otherwise) from an academic research lab or an architects’ studio, we take the existing city as our starting point. We build by connecting one’s own expertise with the knowledge of actors who are rooted in their daily lives.
Circulatory Urbanism: Mumbai and the Konkan system
Part of ‘Constellation.s’
Arc en Rêve, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux
July – September 2016
The Indian railway carries 9 billion passengers every year, four times more than China’s network. Hundreds of millions of Indians live away from their ancestral regions and villages, while maintaining active links back home. The story of mass exodus from rural India to its booming megacities doesn’t end in hyper-dense urban centers. It stretches back to villages that are transforming just as rapidly as cities. The Indian village thus does not belong to the past as much as it belongs to the future – and this future is resolutely urban, networked and circulatory. Over the last four years, we have looked at the Konkan region on India’s western coast, from Mumbai to Mangalore and engaged with people who have fuelled the city’s workforce for at least a couple of centuries. For Arc en Rêve, we produced a mural composition and video that depicts the circulatory journey of an urban family between the village and the city, reflecting its aspirations and diverse facets of its reality.
Uneven Growth: Future-Fitting
Workshop and Exhibition curated Pedro Gadano, MoMA, New York
Workshop: October 2013 – October 2014: Exhibition: November 22nd, 2014 – May 10th 2015
The Institute of Urbanology was invited to participate in the year long series of workshop (held in New York, Shenzhen and Vienna) on the theme of uneven urban growth, which will culminate in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. We have been paired with MIT’s POP Lab, directed by Anton Garcia-Abril Ruiz and Debora Mesa (Ensamble) to think afresh about the potential of introducing low-cost technologies in Mumbai’s homegrown neighbourhoods, and encouraging collaborative knowledge sharing between users, builders and architects.
Curated by Joseph Grima, Design Biennial, Istanbul
We looked at “unmediated design” practices in Mumbai with a focus on craftsmanship involved in making small homes in Mumbai’s Homegrown settlements. The idea was to explore how local builders integrate oral traditions, projections and non-graphical representations in their work, produce new designs and work with changing technologies and materials . Unmediated design involved in local construction practices is intimately connected to spatial, social, cultural contexts of the producers, and is tied to urban dynamics as it involves language, cultural familiarity and communication techniques. As such, it is an important element of “local culture” and the urban character of a city. We exhibited model “tool-houses” – a dominant typology in Mumbai’s homegrown neighbourhoods which combine living and income generating activities, as well as videos showing the process of materialising a design idea.
São Paulo Calling: Dharavi goes to Paraisopolis
Curated by Stefano Boeri, hosted by Municipal Housing Secretariat, São Paulo
The Municipal Housing Secretariat invited practitioners from 6 different cities to share best practices on “favela” improvement. Together with Dharavi social activist Bhau Korde, we represented the Mumbai team which was paired with Paraisopolis, a large homegrown neighbourhood in Sao Paulo. We organised a street exhibition: Dharavi meets Paraisopolis as well as a workshop that looked at local construction practices in the neighbourhood. We followed the work of pedreiro (contractor/mason) Ataide who has built more than 70 houses in the area. We presented his work to the director of the Prefectura and proposed to work with local builders as an alternative approach to wholesale redevelopment projects. We are still working with Ataide through our URBZ Sao Paulo team.