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Research Workshop

(Documentation drawings of the Veti Murbad village, made by the first year (Batch 2014-15) students of School of Environment and Architecture, Borivali )

Design Jatra started with the explorations and observations of its founding architects in the rural hinterlands of Palghar district. The initial seed of its practice is surprisingly not architectural in nature but rather an intense documentation program called ‘The Umbilical Connection’ which was aimed at understanding the tribal context of the Palghar district. Workshops were our way of coming up with participatory, bottoms-up and emergent solutions to the issues faced by the tribal ethos of the district.

(Ar. Vinit Dharia, documenting activities during Umbilical connection 1 workshop)

(Ar. Anuradha Wakade, documenting biodiversity during Umbilical connection 2 workshop)

If one is to expect doing relevant work in the rural context, it is as important to understand the daily routine of a tribal rice farmer as it is to understand the wattle and daub technology. It is with this intention that we continue conducting documentation and analysis workshops with students of various colleges. The workshops expose the students to a very different context and mindset from their familiar urban environment that confines them to their design studios.

(Team of architects during documentation of traditional typologies in Kelthan village, Palghar district)

Through these workshops, students attempt at understanding the rural ecosystem – documenting resource generation, rural priorities, decision-making processes, governance, ecology and other areas of interest they find relevant after interacting with the context and its people. Various documents, reports, videos and documentation drawings of the place are produced as a part of the process. The workshop also aims at inculcating a participatory design approach within students, especially when working with rural communities. It highlights the importance of understanding the particularity of the sociocultural context of a place before beginning the process of generating solutions. Most importantly, these workshops hope to introduce the ethos of rural India in the thought processes of the future architects of the country.