A Smarter Helping Hand
A Smarter Helping Hand: The Value of Shared Strangeness, Objects of Knowledge and Radical Reconstructions within Informal Settlements
In the summer of 2008, a forty-person team representing two countries, eight universities and six disciplines traveled to Mumbai, India to help develop new architectural strategies for an Indian nonprofit that provides education and health programs for children living on the construction sites of Mumbai. The resulting effort challenged not only the architecture produced, but also the manner in which it was created, a reframing of the practice based upon the unique conditions found within the informal settlements that represent the fastest growing urban condition in the world. Three findings of the research have emerged as key principles that have begun to furnish baseline information for practitioners and educators: 1) the series of educational initiatives created through this program to help the students move from the position of tourist to that of collaborator, 2) the development of a design methodology based upon the creation of what Claude-Levi Strauss terms “objects of knowledge”, and 3) the articulation of an architectural response that functions as an act of “radical reconstruction,” as described by Lebbeus Woods.