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The Design Comes as We Build

In an interesting concoction of the contractor’s verbal designs and the artist’s skill with materials, the exhibition illuminates both the construction workers and also the large artisanal community of Dharavi.

An ensemble of designs and materials

Each home, is noticeably different from the other. They are also constructed with different materials that best demonstrate the artist’s dexterity.

Social, Wood model

Social is a corner house designed by Murugan Sundaram and crafted from wood, by Manoj Viswakarma.

Sectional explanation of Social

Murugan, a resident of Dharavi for 22 years believes that design must emerge from conversations with the homeowners.

Interactive, Steel model

Interactive is a structure made entirely out of steel, in a way that it can all be reused if and when the house is modified/rebuild.

Interactive, in section

The house boasts the luxury of balconies in each floor.

Eco, Clay model

This economical and ecological model, houses a living room, workspace, rental unit, an open rooftop, and it collects monsoon water and stores it in an underground water reservoir.

Section through the clay model

The designer Devraj Anant Negi has built over 70 homes – an experience that reflects clearly in the model.

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Workspace 03 Dec 2018

Making a Home: urbz’s The Design Comes as We Build exhibition highlights design that is not predetermined

For the first chapter of CQ’s new series Making a Home, we take a look at “The Design Comes as We Build”, an earlier exhibition by urbz that highlighted the many building contractors of Dharavi, responsible for constructing thousands of small homes, all sans an architect.

A planned approach to architecture isn’t the only successful one. Architects were not inherently the star of the building process, historically, or ever, in some cases – one such being Dharavi. In an age where the definition of what makes a home is vastly different – depending on social, economical, cultural and other aspects – CQ burrows in to take a look at what shapes a home and compiles the contrasting portfolio in our new series: Making a Home.

The Design Comes as We Build

In an interesting concoction of the contractor’s verbal designs and the artist’s skill with materials, the exhibition illuminates both the construction workers and also the large artisanal community of Dharavi.

Architecture without architects

In communities like Dharavi, one of India’s largest slums, the building process is usually taken up by contractors and construction workers who know enough about making a and assembling buildings sans AutoCAD drawings or 3D renders. Their ideas come from know-hows and experience, while the means of representing their ideas are through oral traditions and verbal conversations.

As the co-founder of urbz, Rahul Srivastava, puts it, “The basic philosophy of architecture unfolds from internal processes, which are not always intentional. Many traditions of building don’t start with a design in advance, but where the design is something that emerges in the process of creating it”.

An ensemble of designs and materials

Each home, is noticeably different from the other. They are also constructed with different materials that best demonstrate the artist’s dexterity.

To recognize this un-discussed, organic process of design and acknowledge the skill and talent that exists among the people who don’t consciously see themselves as “designers” – urbz, the experimental action and research collective, curated the exhibition The Design Comes as We Build. Based across Mumbai, Bogotá, São Paulo, Geneva and Seoul, urbz is a studio of architects, urbanologists and researchers that specializes in participatory planning and design.

Their ideas come from know-hows and experience, while the means of representing their ideas are through oral traditions and verbal conversations.

Modelling homes

The Design Comes as We Build illuminates not only the construction workers, but also the large artisanal community that thrives in Dharavi. In an interesting concoction of the contractor’s verbal designs and the artist’s skill with materials, scaled models of homes were crafted. Each home, is noticeably different from the other.  They are also constructed with different materials that best demonstrate the artist’s dexterity. To elaborate further, let’s take a peek at some of the models from the assortment.

Social, Wood model

Social is a corner house designed by Murugan Sundaram and crafted from wood, by Manoj Viswakarma.

Social, Wood model

Social is a corner house designed by Murugan Sundaram and crafted from wood, by Manoj Viswakarma. The house hosted a shop on the ground floor and a semi-open gathering space on the second floor, equipped with a kitchen in case of dinner parties. Murugan, a resident of Dharavi for 22 years believes that design must emerge from conversations with the homeowners. He designed connected staircases and balconies and therefore the house was more social.

Sectional explanation of Social

Murugan, a resident of Dharavi for 22 years believes that design must emerge from conversations with the homeowners.

A version of design that is so tailored to the needs of the occupants and skills of the makers, that it can’t help but be eccentric.

Interactive, Steel model

Entrepreneur and builder Joseph Koli is known for his signature style: letting coconut trees grow through the houses his designs/builds. Collaborating with steel worker Arif Khan, they devised Interactive – a structure made entirely out of steel, in a way that it can all be reused if and when the house is modified/rebuild. The house also boasts the luxury of balconies in each floor.

Interactive, Steel model

Interactive is a structure made entirely out of steel, in a way that it can all be reused if and when the house is modified/rebuild.

Interactive, in section

The house boasts the luxury of balconies in each floor.

Eco, Clay model

This economical and ecological model, houses a living room, workspace, rental unit, an open rooftop, and it collects monsoon water and stores it in an underground water reservoir. The designer Devraj Anant Negi has built over 70 homes – an experience that reflects clearly in the model. But Eco could not have been possible without artisan Atul Arjanbhai Mevada.

Eco, Clay model

This economical and ecological model, houses a living room, workspace, rental unit, an open rooftop, and it collects monsoon water and stores it in an underground water reservoir.

Section through the clay model

The designer Devraj Anant Negi has built over 70 homes – an experience that reflects clearly in the model.

Speaking to Rahul about the purpose of the exhibition, he tells us it was to explicit the different talents hidden away in these communities, that are important to the architecture fraternity as whole, and yet rarely definitively recognised. Furthermore, the work also addresses the various narratives of a “home” and its making. A version of design that is so tailored to the needs of the occupants and skills of the makers, that it can’t help but be eccentric.

Learn more of urbz’s experimental action and research collective on their website.