Our eyes did a double take when we read Mahim Beach andSambhaji Park in Mulund (East) as venues for multidisciplinary project, Guggenheim Lab’s plans in the city.
Piqued to learn more, we dropped by the Mulund venue one late December morning. It painted a pretty sight with the winter sun shining bright, and the aesthetically constructed Lab in a corner with several cricket matches underway, on the other side.
Such was the curiosity generated, that we had to wait for ten minutes for a quick chat with David van der Leer, curator of the show, who was busy answering questions by the locals. “We try to understand cities better.
The Lab is a conversation between professionals from different fields but we decided to change this by taking it out onto the streets. It’s interesting how much you learn from the people who live in a neighbourhood about their everyday lives, out in the locality itself as compared to a closed space or in an auditorium. People have a lot to say on a topic, that they already love,” says Leer.
“Isme gaana nahi baj raha, yaar,” a school boy was heard telling his mate, after strapping on earphones connected to an iPod that played details about the Mumbai Project, while two girls fought for pamphlets blissfully unaware of what was printed on it.
Leer feels that all is not lost, “and by taking it to different neighbourhoods, we get new people involved to get thinking about the city and hopefully, in the long run, this will also help impact how we design and make legislations. If you open up this conversations to people who have never been a part of such projects, that means that they comeback with their friendsfrom the locality, and start to think about the city,” asserts Leer.
“We wanted a decent geographic and socio-economic spread. We have chosen five sites, from a very upper class section to Mahim Beach, which is right next to Dharavi, to this (Sambhaji Park) being a lovely middle-class neighbourhood,” believes Leer. He adds that it has become a nice mix of people who want to be interested in the city.
About the lab
The project has travelled across New York and Berlin and with the help of their research projects and talks they try and raise awareness about urban challenges. The Mumbai chapter is in collaboration with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla.