Perspective shifts with travel and form

May 21, 2017

SALA students explore sites on the Mumbai port with partner school KRVIA


This week, a group of SALA students presented work from a recent trip to Mumbai where they collaborated with KRVIA students. Together, they looked at three waterfront sites in the Mumbai port and explored urban design issues.

Jared and his group looked at how old boats were being recycled on the Darukhana docks. The process, which is known as shipbreaking, involves members of the community dismantling decommissioned vessels and finding ways to reuse the pieces.

SALA and KRVIA students

SALA and KRVIA students pose for a photograph in Mumbai

“We did a number of interviews with local residents, mostly through our KRVIA student partners,” says Jared. They also drew a number of sketches to better understand how the space of the sites functions.

The sites are the home to a number of informal communities that pose their own interesting challenges. In two of these communities, Aby used his sketches to address the issue of water. “Water is a necessity of life that provides resiliency and stability to any community,” he says.  

Abys cartoon

Aby’s cartoon of the waterlines coming out of the earth and snaking their way through the community

In the informal communities that he visited, people were accessing water by illegally tapping into the city’s water lines. They had developed an improvised water distribution network through a complicated system of hoses that ran through the community. But Aby observed that these are impermanent solutions and present problems with access, transportation, and storage.

“After community consultation, the members expressed their desire to have a more permanent water supply,” he says. By illustrating the situation with the comic form and proposing a series of solutions through permanent infrastructure, Aby drew the praise of community members.

“I decided to use the comic style because its basic nature of perspective images and scenario sketches are easy to read, and the ability to tell a story through these images enhances the ability of the audience to digest complicated data in a fun and engaging way,” he says.

Aby presents back in Vancouver

Aby presents his cartoon sketches at the review in Vancouver

By presenting his ideas within this medium, Aby hopes that the community will bring more attention to their cause and find permanent solutions to their water issues. In the end, these efforts improve the overall stability of the informal communities.

An informal community in Mumbai

The impermanent networks of waterlines in an informal community in Mumbai

“It was a life changing experience,” says Aby. “I’m proud of our faculty for providing the urban design studio with this wonderful opportunity.”

Students at the review

Students discuss their sketches at a review in Vancouver

For Jared, the trip was a pleasant departure from the conventional educational experience: “There really isn’t any substitute for on-the-ground education and experience in urban design,” he says.

The students will work throughout the summer to advance these initial sketches into more substantial proposals. Next year, KRVIA students will be welcomed in Vancouver to explore urban design issues in a Canadian context.