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Due to the problems associated with marginalized sectors of the population, we often ignore inadequacies in access to education. In response, a range of grass roots programs in Mumbai directly addresses the issue of education as a means of combating poverty. This study explored the role of architecture within the educational sector. It did so particularly considering the extreme needs of a growing population.
The importance of design in alternative education is often neglected. Educational facilities are typically rudimentary and utilitarian. Through meetings with activists, educators, students and architects, including site visits to a diversity of school facilities, Learning off the Grid asked the following questions: How can architecture provide new outlets for education? Especially since they are not currently provided by government-funded schools. What role should traditional and contemporary building crafts play in the design of schools? Do smaller interventions at the scale of the desk or blackboard have the potential to make an impact?
Learning off the Grid Event
The research resulted in a two-part inaugural event hosted by Columbia University at Studio X, GSAPP Mumbai. The first event was an evening lecture including experts from the fields of architecture and education.
Vrushali Naik and Ava Shapiro of Mobile Crèches run an NGO targeting the children of migrant families working on construction sites. Armene Modi the founder of Ashta no Kai works directly with young women studying in rural villages near Pune. Matias Echanove and Himanshu S. of URBZ shared one of their projects. A shelter in Dharavi functions as a multi-purpose workshop and art gallery for the local community. Robert Verrijt of the design firm Architecture BRIO is currently working on the second phase of the Magic Bus Campus. The project comprises a dormitory and outdoor play pavilion for marginalized urban children.
The presentations were followed by a roundtable discussion. Speakers took questions and discussed the roles of not only their own organizations, but the responsibility of government and strategies for implementation.