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Working with Mumbai’s Marginalised Communities to Reclaim their Rapidly Changing Industrial Landscapes

Part 2 Project 2010
Audrey Lematte
Toby Pear
Harjeet Suri
Cian McKay
Will Notley
Odel Jeffries
London Metropolitan University London UK
In October 2009, six students set out on an exploratory field trip to India. During a 5 week period, the team, designed, built and managed the second live project in a series of classrooms to be built within the marginalised quarry settlements.

The industrial landscape of Navi Mumbai, led the students to design a climatically responsive structure for the isolated hill communities of Navi Mumbai. The almost uninhabitable industrial zone, leaves most people with little choice but to build makeshift tarpaulin shacks on difficult terrain.

This project is part of an ongoing collaboration between The Association of Rural People for Health and Educational Needs (ARPHEN) and the University.

The complexities and problems of the city of Mumbai informed both the design of the school and further exploration into
Mumbai’s rapidly changing industrial landscapes.

Problems of global economic migration, the spread of HIV aids, human trafficking, and practical issues such as a lack of water
became both everyday problems and starting points for our
proposals.

Audrey Lematte
Toby Pear
Harjeet Suri
Cian McKay
Will Notley
Odel Jeffries


Exploring how urban landscape is inhabited, made and remade through personal and collective acts, the studio searches out situations where communities are experiencing rapid cultural and technical change and where resources are scarce.

The worked out road stone quarry wastelands of east Mumbai peppered with emergent migrant worker settlements and the more centrally urban, long abandoned, overgrown and nostalgic landscape of brick and steel cotton mill sheds, provided the context for this ground breaking project work.

These 5th years students built their projects around their direct experience of the rich but fragile local interactions which took place whilst they were designing and constructing a community classroom for migrant quarry children who would not otherwise have access to education (part of an ongoing programme by the studio to build such classrooms throughout the quarry lands). This classroom is an impressive, carefully crafted structure, which fits securely within the organic morphology of the hill settlement.

Working from the live building project outwards, students engaged with local people both individually and at community level. In this way they were able to cut through cultural barriers to expose the undercurrent of silent everyday issues. In addition students mapped the physical landscape and considered this context as a resource for change. Students fabricated their own briefs around this very real set of circumstances experienced by people they know by name.

The range of work displayed shows how, through architecture, cultural and physical resources can be generated, coordinated and directed to effectively address issues at both the local and strategic level so as to profoundly improve the lives of the people that the students worked with during their research.

This comprehensive body of portfolio work communicates dramatically. It is just one example of how strong design can contribute in situations which are the most pressing globally and which normally operate without the benefit of architects. This work is now feeding back into the discourse surrounding ongoing live studio projects in the Mumbai quarries and leading to meaningful post graduation opportunities which this group of students are determined to pursue.

Maurice Mitchell

Francesca Pont

Tutor(s)
Mr Maurice Mitchell
2010
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