Urbanology. Mumbai, India
The Institute of Urbanology is a research project located in Mumbai: their motto is “user generated cities”, and they seek to question and learn from the urban environment in order to improve it, in collaboration with those who are living there.
The Institute contributes to the debate on urban development by engaging with local community groups, creating new concepts, implementing projects and recommending strategies and policies.
In Dharavi, the Institute studies the physical and theoretical spaces where homegrown practices in the fields of housing, artisanship and trade converge.
The Institute of Urbanology is involved on one hand in research and documentation: as a part of the “learning-from” process essential for any practitioner, they organize seminars, workshops, exhibitions, lectures, publications…
On the other hand, this research work is devoted to field action: as architects, urbanists, designers, they co-design different projects (houses, religious and community structures, shrines) in collaboration with local actors, as well residents as workers.
They have offices in Mumbai and Goa and through the urbz.net collective, they widen the debate on urban development to different cities and issues around the world.
Did you know?
The Institute of Urbanology is located in Dharavi, one of the largest and oldest informal settlements in Asia: as such, it has an old history, and people have been living there for a very long time. Far from the idea we have of slums, Dharavi is a very productive neighborhood, with its economy, organization and culture. And yet, municipality call it a slum, and thus treat it like it: too poor infrastructures and investments to make it decent to live in.
Sustainability and Replicability
With the rapid development and gentrification of cities, and the need of cheap labor, workers can’t afford housing and the informal settlements are the way for them to stabilize. Therefore, these homegrown settlements are full-blown neighborhood of the cities and they can be the perfect spaces for architects and urbanists to work.
Through their design and architectural intervention in those neighborhoods, The Institute of Urbanology wants to change the way people and governments see them and help understand these places differently.
Government recognition of informal settlements as regular neighborhoods is the first step towards polices that can transform them into full-fledged, decent places where to live, with basic infrastructure and social services.