Posted January 26th 2014 at 3:43 pm by
in Tracing Public Space

Tracing Public Space: Ranwar, Mumbai

Ranwar, Mumbai (India) July, 2013

Partner institution: The Bus Ride, Zamir Basrai (MIT alumnus)

Participants: Alice, Julian, Judith and Michael.

Ranwar is a former small agricultural village off Waroda Road in Bandra whose architecture and urban design belong to the Portuguese colonial period. Ranwar’s urban charm can be attributed to its humanistic urban scale and its picturesque vernacular homes in the form of bungalows with balconies and outdoor staircases that facilitate interactions between the private space of the house and the street. As a predominantly catholic community, Ranwar features small public squares ideal for regular religious festivities. One of the most interesting places is Waroda road, which recently has seen new investments by the creative young population that started a positive transformation aimed at attracting new enthusiastic crowds to support the preservation of Ranwar’s urban charm.

Our partner for this workshop is the Bus Ride, a local architecture office who has been working on an urban analysis of the area and its larger context: the suburb of Bandra. The goal of this workshop was to document the vernacular stories about main public spaces and share them with the rest of the community by exhibiting the work through photography, maps, and written material.

There were three recurring themes of this workshop: public space as space of worship, stories behind architectural details, and traditional urban design threatened by contemporary interventions.

Public spaces in Ranwar seem to be carved out of the built form producing a smooth spatial sequence between streets and public squares. This spatial continuity allows for community gatherings that involve praying by the various grottos or walking around in a procession. In this small settlement, all the participants seemed to know the dwellers of each individual house, previous generations that have lived there, as well as houses that were destroyed to make way for new multi-story developments, which seemingly was one of the most worrisome issues in the community. It wasn’t so much for nostalgic reasons as it is the fear of losing a strong community life and identity.

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Post by Ana Vargas

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