If I was a designer or architect who’s going to be in New York City between now and May 21, I definitely would make a point to see the Center for Architecture’s current exhibit, which opened February 10. Called “Jugaad Urbanism: Resourceful Strategies for Indian Cities,” it’s all about how to design for today’s large urban cities by studying the inventive “make-do”s of India’s slums. That’s right, India’s overcrowded, packed-in living spaces have a thing or two to teach us about using limited resources, a subject Herman Miller has always had an interest in.
In fact, the term “Jugaad” specifically refers to the resourcefulness and innovation that Indian people demonstrate every day, from jerry-rigging cars and busses to turning plastic pop bottles into street lamps.
The exhibit, says Margaret Castillo, president of the AIA New York chapter, aims to educate both local and international audiences about the critical issues of growing cities. “While Mumbai may seem a world away, the lessons learned from its empowered citizens and designers can be applied to rapidly expanding cities such as Rio or Guangzhou.”
The exhibit is organized by resources — land, water, energy and transportation. It and features everything from products and prototypes, including a new low tech concept for community toilets, to lectures and Bollywood films.
“There’s always this narrative of failure and tragedy when one discusses Indian urbanism,” said curator Kanu Agrawal. “But this represents solutions; people respond creatively where there are shortages of resources.”
It’d be worth checking out even if you’re not a designer, don’t you think?
Photo 1: Jugaad canopy, New Delhi. Photo credit: Sundeep Bali.
Photo 2: Mumbai’s chawls, built in 1916. Photo credit: Rajesh Vora.
Photo 3: A jugaad chandelier constructed from cables and recycled bottles. Photo credit: Rajesh Vora.