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Urban Typhoon Koliwada

info |at| urbantyphoon.com

This is the blog of the Urban Typhoon Website. Visit often for updates about the workshop. DHARAVI-KOLIWADA MARCH 16-23, 2008 

'Women Fish, Men Games'

I particularly liked this video produced at the workshop made by the TISS team. The first part shows Koli women working at the fish market and the second shows some boys playing cricket. The effects in the video are great.

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Visit dharavi.org to see the photos of the workshop and the material produced by the participants.

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Visit the Urban Typhoon Youtube channel. New videos uploaded frequently!!!

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Walking from Jamaat Hall to Guru Dutt Gym, Koliwada-Dharavi

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A big Thanks to all the people who have made Urban Typhoon Koliwada a big success. The work continues on www.dharavi.org where all the material produced during the workshop is being uploaded.

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Going to Dharavi?

Ottawa's own Michael Parker (who plays a mean harmonica and is a participant to the Urban Typhoon workshop) created a blog for participants to meet before next week and maybe also keep in touch afterwards. Not much on it yet, but feel free to inject some life to it.


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Holi is a festival of colour celebrating the new harvest. The city celebrates with a vengeance from 6:00 am onwards. People throw colour and water on each other (beware of water balloons landing on unsuspecting heads) and generally have a wild time. Please wear old clothes which can be dumped that day, if you are planning to venture out. Dharavi is known to be particularly noisy and enthusiastic and a bunch of international guests will invite loads of attention. Might be wise to catch up on sleep the whole morning and afternoon in preparation for the party that evening.

From 9:30pm: Mad Decent Urban Typhoon Party
Special guest: Dj Paul Devro [Mad Decent, Philadelphia]

@ Blue Frog Club
D/2 Mathuradas Mills Compound
N.M. Joshi Marg
Mumbai 400 013

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Charles Correa, speaks on "Viable Housing Densities" at Urban Typhoon
7:00 pm Monday March 17 in Koliwada Dharavi

Charles Correa is an architect, planner, activist, theoretician and a fundamental figure in the world-wide panorama of contemporary

architecture. He studied architecture at the University of Michigan and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology after which he established a private practice in Bombay in 1958. His work in India shows a careful development, understanding and adaptation of Modernism to a non-western culture. His early works attempt to explore a local vernacular within a modern environment. His land-use planning and community projects continually try to go beyond typical solutions to third world problems.

Over the last four decades, Correa has done pioneering work in urban issues and low cost shelter in the Third World. From 1970-75, he was Chief Architect for New Bombay an urban growth center of 2 million people, across the harbor from the existing city. In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed him Chairman of the National Commission on Urbanization.

He was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for the year 1984. His acclaimed design for McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT was dedicated recently. He is a recipient of the civilian awards in India, Padma Vibhushan (2006) and Padma Shri.

(Charles Correa will attend the workshop and give a lecture, but he will not lead a team, so please don't register for him.)

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Koli women dancing on Dharavi Main Road to celebrate Ganesh Day, Feb 20, 2008

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Dharavi may go under hammer within 2 weeks
Financial Express Reports on Dharavi, Mumbai, Feb 4

Finally, the bidding process for the redevelopment of Asia ’s largest slum Dharavi is likely to take place within the next two weeks. According to government sources, government is issuing a tender document is imminent. Mukesh Mehta, chairman, MM Project Consultants private Ltd told FE, “As per the norms required for the project, 19 consortiums have been shortlisted out of the 27 applied earlier including international and national developers to bid for the Dharavi redevelopment."

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Fishing With the Kolis: A Dying Tradition  

Urban Typhoon organizers accompanied some fishermen from Dharavi's Koliwada on a harrowing canoe trip through Mahim Creek - just across the road from the settlement - to see how the tradition survives today. Once the customary occupation and caste identity of Kolis, fishing is no longer the main activity of the community because of environmental and economic changes. Himanchu, a college-aged resident of Koliwada who accompanied us on the expedition, had never been fishing. Still, about 50 fishermen continue the tradition.

On a daily basis, these fishermen maneuver tiny canoes over waters choked with garbage, chemical waste, and sewage from all over Mumbai. Once they reach one of several pockets of water that have been sealed off from the polluted areas, they unfold their nets and collect the day's catch. The fish caught serves as sustenance for fishermen's families or is sold by their wives. 

The fisherman have faced difficulties in recent months, as construction of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (an expressway connecting Mumbai's suburbs to one of its central neighborhoods) has prevented sea water from replenishing the creek. Construction projects along the creek's edges have also affected water levels. As a result, fish are becoming smaller and fewer. Obstacles to the fishing tradition are nothing new: Kolis' access to fish has been impeded by a process of land reclamation that began in the 18th century. 

Our boat docks on a sludgy bank. Each fisherman informally owns his own jetty and shed. 

A fisherman explains traditional techniques.
A crab: a rare catch! They generously offered it to us as a gift. 

A fisherman shows us the catch of the day.

The fishermen are used to it, but the journey on the polluted Mithi River was an adventure for the Urban Typhoon team, especially as the boat rocked wildly!

Docking at the edge of a pipe.

This fish died from lack of oxygen, as construction projects have prevented fresh sea water from entering — a sign of the environmental, economic and social impacts of development. 

The water is bordered by a protected mangrove swamp.

A view of the Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai's new financial and commerical center, from Maharashtra Nature Park, which borders the mangrove swamps and the Kolis' fishing area. Construction of these structures has had ecological impacts that directly affect Koli fishermen. 

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The whole Urban Typhoon organizers' team is meeting in Koliwada this week to prepare the workshop. We will post some images as the week goes on. Above is the sidewalk close to Sion station. Below our friend Himanshu who will be helping throughout and of course participating to the workshop.

Himanshu's family owns a Dattatraya temple in the center of Koliwada.

Not far a Christian church serves to remind us that the Kolis are both Hindu and Christian.

More soon!

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The Economist reports on Dharavi
Jan 27th 2005 | MUMBAI
From The Economist print edition

Light in the darkness


FLYING into Mumbai airport, many visitors' first view of India is of a mass of corrugated-roofed slums clustered on hillsides around the end of the main runway. That is scarcely a viable image for a country's commercial capital that has set Shanghai as its role model, and it is a problem that has defied government action for over 30 years. But hidden in these and Mumbai's other sprawling slums is a thriving entrepreneurial spirit that has spawned small businesses ranging from pottery to leather goods, and that is also now beginning to support formal property development.



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House in a Slum? You Can't Afford It.

Madhukar Gurav welcomed me to his apartment, airy and bright. Its 225 square feet house a family of four. Yet this modest home is several levels up from where he lived before, and not just because it is on the top floor of the building. Until Gurav scraped together the half-million rupees, or $12,500, to buy this flat two years ago, he lived in a Mumbai slum in a shack made of plywood and tarp.

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New teams who will join the workshop:

laBase Collective (New York, Switzerland, Chile)
- Architects

Zexe (Barcelona)
- Mediactivists

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Which means that registration is open

Thanks to Tomo-chan our web designer who's working hard from Barcelona.

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MUMBAI, Dharavi-Koliwada

March 16 – 23, 2008

Dharavi's Koliwada is a traditional fisher folk community in one of Asia's largest slum. Koliwada's village like character has been preserved even in the midst of the dramatic urban and demographic changes that Mumbai has experienced in the last century.

The workshop will produce creative urban designs for Koliwada as well as a multimedia testimony to the unique spirit of the community. This workshop will also be an experiment in participatory planning and global collaborative work. Architects, urban planners, artists, activists and legal experts from India and many other parts of the world will be joining the workshop, working in teams consisting primarily of local residents. Faculty and students from University of Tokyo, Harvard, Yale and Columbia will be participating.

All material produced will be uploaded on a wikimedia website developed specifically for the workshop. During the workshop a technology community center will be built with donated computers. This center will allow residents to produce and communicate their own urban data (notably using interactive maps, geotagged data and video recordings), which will be useful to other residents, government agencies, NGOs and the general public.

We hope that the workshop will empower the community to think about the design aspects of redevelopment and build capacity by providing methodologies and infrastructures with which the community can generate and communicate its own urban data.

Urban Typhoon is an experiment in global team-work and participatory design. The first workshop in this series took place in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo (Japan) in June 2006 when 130 local residents and international participants brainstormed with world-class practitioners on the future of this alternative neighborhood located in the heart of Tokyo.

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