Submitted by Tanya Khanna
Recapitulation: What is development? Who is it for?
India Architecture News - Jul 22, 2019 - 00:49 968 views
Recapitulation: What is development? Who is it for, and how one may approach urban informality in metropolises?
Held on 27th June 2019, the 47th talk in the Architecture & Society Series talk focussed on Engaging with Urban Informality through Community Architecture.
The Key Speaker for the event was Swati Janu – an architect and community artist whose work engages with issues of social justice and right to shelter in Indian cities. Drawing from her experiences, Swati questioned the role and relevance of an architect in a society where more than half of the city has been designed and built by the people themselves. What can the archetypal architect learn from the design of informal cities, and can she bring her design knowledge to these self-built neighbourhoods?’
She went on to present three different case studies of transient settlements that have been built by the residents themselves. A common thread that runs through all the case studies is the rise of hybrid structures - a nod to local practices - all of which came together through community participation.
These communities that live in a state of illegality and precarity with no land tenure tend to be anchored to a particular patch of land due to the course of their livelihoods. Often building only to dismantle, relocate and rebuild, the government redefines the meaning of ‘development’ with a set of hard to achieve guidelines – which falls at direct odds with the best interests of indigenous communities.
Examining the nature of these community building processes, Swati opened the floor to questions from the audience, with the discussion concluding with ‘how the learning from informal settlements can be applied to projects of a larger scale in the urban fabric’.
About Architecture and Society Talk Series
'Architecture and Society' talk series is a monthly forum organised by Greha in collaboration with Epistle Communications - at the India Habitat Centre. Each month, the forum invites architects, urban practitioners, academicians and research scholars from the entire country to talk about their work. The intent of the forum is to gather students, practitioners and the public of Delhi in one space where discussions on the future of the built environment in India can take place.
Since its inception in 1974, Greha has concentrated on the growth of knowledge in the field of environmental development, habitat design and architecture. The thrust of Greha's efforts have been towards addressing issues of the majority of the population; the focus was the marginalised people in rural and urban settlements; the vehicle was developing knowledge and methodologies concerning settlement systems more suited to our history and cultural context.
The founder members, during the early stages of their professional careers, would meet periodically to engage with majority concerns, away from the routine of the practice.
These concerns led them towards working with the poor and marginalised people in Indian society and eventually to the establishment of a school of habitat studies.
Greha registered in 1986 as a non-government, not for profit society, with the aim of generating a body of ideas, involving diverse professional talent and promoting expert contribution in development projects undertaken by public agencies.
About Epistle Communications
Epistle is a communication consultancy providing bespoke, strategic consulting services for architecture, design, planning and allied disciplines.
Top image courtesy of Greha.
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