Submitted by Tanya Khanna
India Architecture News - Feb 03, 2020 - 11:02 7297 views
The 52nd edition of Architecture and Society, held on 19th November 2019 at the India Habitat Centre hosted speakers from Ek-Kadam-Aagey — an urban initiative that seeks to rejuvenate neglected pockets of the locality of Mehrauli through sustained community action.
Individuals from all walks of life, united by a common purpose have come together to create this robust team. Led by Sandhya Singhal, Lagan Rai McPereira and Andre J Fanthome, the team’s efforts have paved the way for greater involvement, recognition, and responsibility on the part of the citizens to take stock of things when it comes to confronting quotidian cleanliness problems.
With regard to the intervention in the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Fanthome narrated how this initiative came about as a result of the overbearing stench emanating from garbage dumps along the park boundary at the end of the monsoon season. The process of transformation demonstrated the will to look beyond one’s confines for the betterment of society and bring to fruition a thriving green expanse where people of all age groups come today to unwind.
Sandhya and Lagan shared animated anecdotes about overcoming the numerous impediments that came in the way — battling regressive mindsets to convince the local authorities and residents, addressing the menace of stray bovines, ridding parking lots of illegal activities and confronting local goons, among other obstructive elements.
Despite the array of challenges, the speakers expressed how grit and determination towards their work proved to be immensely rewarding in the end, and not just with the public park taking shape — but with finally convincing several stakeholders of the need to undertake such voluntary initiatives. Help eventually poured in from certain levels of the government, and the project materialised as a resounding success.
As the audience applauded the team’s painstaking efforts, Greha President MN Ashish Ganju noted that when citizens unite to find solutions, ideas emerge, and however incoherent they may seem, the will to create positive change will organically bear fruit. Congratulating the trio for their spontaneous engagement with cleaning up the neighbourhood, he expressed his hope for others to follow suit.
'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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