Exhibition Jugaad Urbanism

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 in / Serial IFIT

with the book “Tacit Urbanism” and the installation movie “Kolkata Monodosis” I participated in

Center for Architecture New York  first exhibition in US on contemporary Indian urbanism

Exhibition on view in New York February 10 – May 21, 2011

Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, NYC 10012



Jugaad: a definition

There is no one definition of the Hindi term “jugaad,” but in a broad sense, the term refers to a

certain resourcefulness and innovation found in Indian cities. Jerry-rigged cars, homemade stoves,

and do-it-yourself water filtration are all examples of citizens “making do” with what they have on

hand. That resourcefulness has proven to be an inspiration for local nongovernmental organizations

and international designers alike. The exhibition juxtaposes these homemade solutions and the

“designed” ones, showing how the two can build off of one another to improve city life. As curator

Kanu Agrawal describes, “Jugaad strategies allow designers to work with maximum adaptability

and imagination. Inspired by the skill and ingenuity of grassroots tactics as well as a careful use of

meager resources, designers can be thoughtful contributors for healthier, safer, and more equitable

cities. With their organizational skills and expertise they can provide examined ways of improving

living conditions.”

Exhibition Content

The exhibition is organized by “resource:” land, water, energy and transportation.

• The land section will feature a proposal for “In-between Architecture” by Studio Mumbai, an

Incremental Housing Strategy for Pune by Urban Nouveau and the NGO SPARC, the

Cybermohollah HUB community center planned for a slum resettlement in Delhi, and an

investigation of the chawls in Mumbai. These buildings, 2-5 story housing structures, built in

the early 20th century around the fabric mills of Mumbai, are at the center of a debate about

preservation and development in Indian cities. The commissioned proposal by Neera

Adarka and Rupali Gupte will save the chawls, but modernize them for contemporary life.

• The water section will also feature a commissioned project—a new scheme for community

toilets in Delhi by Vir.Mueller Architects, including an example of his innovative low tech

ceramic toilet pan—and an assortment of water filtration solutions, including a “jugaad” 3-

bucket solution, and a mass-manufactured design by the Tulip Water Foundation.

• The energy section will display solar solutions, including a solar-powered streetlamp and

portable home light, and a set of smokeless stoves. It will also include an energy-generating

e-charka, or spinning machine, which is a symbol of empowerment recalling the iconic photo

of Gandhi and his charka, spread around the world by Life magazine.

• The transportation section will present the typical “jugaad vehicle” alongside the innovative,

constraint-based design of the Tata Nano. Additional materials include a photo essay on the

new skywalks of Mumbai, a presentation of drawings and photos of the Janmarg Bus Rapid

Transit system in Ahmedabad, developed with the Institute for Transportation and

Development Policy, and the Soleckshaw, a solar-powered rickshaw.

• Additionally, the Center will host an installation by the noted Delhi-based artist group Raqs

Media Collective, called “Coordinates of an Everyday City.” The 4-channel video installation

was first shown at Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany. Raqs co-founded Sarai, Centre for

the Study of Developing Societies, in 2000, and is renowned in the art world for its

multimedia projects.

In total, the exhibition features products/prototypes, models, videos, photography, and drawings

created by Indian artists, designers and NGOs, but also the designs of practitioners working in India

that are based in Sweden, Germany, and New York. “In place of the master plan and tabula rasa

urbanism, Jugaad urbanism takes the improvised, actually existing urban conditions of the Indian

metropolis as a point of departure to consider the scale and scope of new design interventions,”

says Vyjayanthi Rao of the New School for Social Research. “This exhibition raises questions about

the nature of innovation itself and the systems that support intervention.”


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