About URBZ

URBZ is an experimental urban research and action collective.

URBZ organizes collaborative workshops, facilitates hands-on research projects, creates urban forms and concepts, and develops web content about urban space and places since 2008.


User-generated Cities

URBZ believes that residents are experts in their neighborhoods. Their everyday experience of the places where they live and work constitute an essential knowledge for planning and urban development.

For policy-makers, urban planners, architects and real-estate developers, accessing this knowledge is the best possible way to enhance the quality and impact of their work. Understanding a locality from the point of view of those who inhabit it improves the chances of success of a project.

URBZ is engaged in communities in various parts of the world. We support individual expression, grassroots involvement and ground up development and are committed to information sharing, open access and public participation.



URBZ regularly organizes participatory workshops that last 2 to 7 days where local residents work in small teams with guests from various fields to produce documentation in the form of surveys, designs, multimedia products, or documented action.

The URBZ workshops are resolutely open and inclusive. We believe that play and fun are natural paths to knowledge and innovation. The success of our workshops is based on the motivation and creativity of the participants.

URBZ is also interested in other forms of engagements with localities. Thanks to the variety of expertise represented by our team we are as likely to work on architectural projects, as getting involved in artistic or pedagogical initiatives. We have notably organized several conferences, seminars, studios and exhibitions.

The Team

URBZ’s main strength is its team, which is composed of extremely motivated and creative members from diverse fields including planning, architecture, design, anthropology, economy and information technology. URBZ has offices in Mumbai and Goa (India) and a team in Latin America (Sao Paulo+Santiago). URBZ’s collaborators are spread around the world and include constant influx of bright volunteers and young researchers that join the team to learn from URBZ’s projects and approach.


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39 Responses to “About URBZ”

  1. Stephen Goldsmith Says:

    Curious to know to what extent URBZ is working on issues of production and manufacturing in neighborhoods. We will be holding a conference about the return of manufacturing to cities, and in Mumbai of course manufacturing never left. Is this an subject URBZ has been addressing?

    thank you

  2. rahul Says:

    Dear Stephen,

    Our perspective on Mumbai is informed by the historical role that the city’s informal sector played after the decline of the textile mills from the 1980s onwards. That was when some activities of the industry got decentralized and dispersed in several poor neighbourhoods all over and around Mumbai. Notably the town of Bhiwandi in Thane District.

    Dharavi too absorbed several processes of the industry – especially stitching and production of clothes.

    Dharavi has been a traditional manufacturing base for leather goods, pottery and food processing. But it also housed local service sector that grew around its own self. Besides, it provided subsidised housing for hawkers and poor retailers who serviced large parts of the city. The tool-house typology that we talk about essentially looks at Dharavi as a composite of residential, manufacturing and retail activities as expressed in its built-forms.

    This composite economic framework works equally well when seen in the context of Mumbai as a whole. The city grew around the docks – a service sector – in the 18th and 19th centuries and the sector continued to hold its own all through the 20th century – when manufacturing was at its heyday.

    It must specially be noted that manufacturing in India was a complicated affair given that it was yoked to a colonial economy and accompanied a forceful displacement of artisanal production practices. In fact the mass migration of artisanal communities to cities such as Mumbai saw the emergence of neighbourhoods such as Dharavi – primarily through the experience of the leather workers and potters.

    It is true that along with the gradual disappearance of gigantic 19th century industrial production complexes, one has seen the vanishing of a hundred year old evolving history of dignified labour practices. However, some would say the whole experience was unsustainable and so the dissolution was to be expected – especially when seen in the light of the larger role of industrial manufacture vis-a-vis traditional modes of manufacture.

    Neighbourhoods like Dharavi lived parrallel lives to industrial sectors in Mumbai from the 1930s to the 80s – testifying to the fact that while manufacture was central to Mumbai’s history, so was the composite – service-artisanal manufacture economy of Dharavi. When formal industrial manufacture declined, Dharavi absorbed and subsidized the processes within its fabric.

    We see Dharavi and other spaces in Mumbai as those which encompass a range of different co-dependent economic activities – manufacture, retail, services and others (in the case of Dharavi Koliwada, even fishing right until the 1990s)! We certainly dont see manufacture as ever having left Mumbai. And we dont see it as ever being the sole economic factor in the city’s history either.

  3. Worli Village Says:

    We need your efforts in Worli Village

  4. paisaje transversal Says:

    We featured URBZ in our web/blog: http://paisajetransversal.blogspot.com/2010/04/urbz-ciudades-generadas-por-sus.html

    We are an Architectural Student Association located in the Thecnical University of Madrid. We are a multidisciplinary group of architects, sociologists, artists and geographers currently organizing a workshop in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid about new methods of urban analisys and planning. We would love any input or comment.
    Thank you!

  5. matias Says:

    Dear worlivillage, we will come and visit you very soon! We are very interested in what you are doing and we love Worli Village.

  6. matias Says:

    Dear Paisaja Transversal,

    Your blog is amazing. We are adding it to our network box in the side bar and will check it regularly. We would also love to help in any possible way. Why don’t you help us organizing the Istanbul workshop? That could be a first collaboration.

  7. paisaje transversal Says:

    Dear Matias,
    From Paisaje Transversal we would love to collaborate in any way. We can see further details by mail. Where can we contact you directly? Our mail is: paisaje.transversal@gmail.com

  8. Trupti Amritwar Says:


    We are a team of urban designer’s and urban planners and have recently started an urban design cell at Rachan Sansad. We would be keen to meet people from your organisation.
    How do we get in touch?

    Warm Regards,

    Trupti Amritwar

  9. Avi Sharma Says:

    I would really like to know about what it takes to be a part of your team. I am doing bachelor’s of engg in Civil Engineering and obv interested in being a part of team .


  10. Bindu shanavas Says:

    TYCKA is a design consultancy with deisgners from IISC and IIT involved in product design /industrial design services and would like to partner with you in offering relevant solutions to the problems highlighted or captured by URBZ.

  11. Mohammed Haris Mashkoor Says:

    i want to be part of URBZ, i want to know what it takes to be a part of such a noble institution.

  12. What makes a city buzz? Lessons for building new communities « Says:

    [...] cultural space. We need to reclaim individual expression and collective imagination” say Urbz, working in Mumbai to turn the voices of residents into essential intelligence for urban planners, [...]

  13. Rohit Says:

    I am looking for an internship. Iam doing my 1st B.Arch at School of Planning and Architecture,Bhopal.Pls mail me abt the details required.

  14. matias Says:

    Dear Rohit – Please visit our internship page and send us a motivation letter along with your bio. All the best!

  15. Disability Research and Design Foundation Says:

    We are a recently formed non- profit organisation called Disability Research and Design Foundation. We are basically involved in developing solutions for a more inclusive society by addressing issues related to accessibility. Our aim is to bring
    together the creative, technical and legal expertise of individuals
    coming from different academic and/or professional backgrounds to
    formulate solutions for an inclusive society. The approach we take is
    thus an interdisciplinary one, with our team consisting of architects,
    engineers, activists, occupational therapists and social researchers. However, though we have been involved in more design based projects, we are interested in expanding to other areas. We would like to involve individuals from different walks of life (artists, curators, media people, etc.), in coming up with more novel ideas for social awareness programmes. Our intention is to inspire people to move away from the medical model of disability towards looking at it as something that is, largely socially constructed. However, we hope to make disability awareness the underlying message of our programmes, while focusing more on how normalcy is constructed in society.

    It would be great if we could collaborate with URBZ in some way. Do let us know if we can get in touch.



  16. Chapa Branca » Cidades geradas pelos usuários (ótima iniciativa!!!) Says:

    [...] Workshop é um evento multimídia, multicultural e multidisciplinar promovido anualmente pela ONG URBZ na cidade de Nova Delhi, na Índia. Durante o evento – que tem a duração de uma semana [...]

  17. Caroline Says:

    It sounds as though URBZ is doing fantastic work. I was very interested to read your website and with particular reference to Dharavi… I am currently carrying out research on the processes of slum upgrading and slum clearance in India and obviously Dharavi features heavily with its proposed Redevelopment Project. I just read your news about a new roof for the URBZ office in the New Transit Camp (plus have looked at the Dharavi.org website) and was wondering whether you have any specific involvement or current projects with Dharavi residents in terms of upgrading their housing and improving living conditions.
    I’d really appreciate any additional information that you might have.
    Many thanks

  18. jaspal Says:

    I have a background in industrial ecology (ie. waste=food) and urban planning. I’ll be traveling in India in Apr-Jun this year. Looks like your network is involved in a lot of interesting projects & i’d love to meet up with some of your team when I’m over there. Are there any events coming up? Thx!

  19. URBZ - Learning off the Grid Says:

    [...] URBZ facilitates the production and exchange of information, knowl- edge, ideas and practices towards better cities for all. This non-profit organizes participatory workshops, designs adaptable structures and develops web tools for urban communities and practitioners. We plan to visit URBZ’s offices in Mumbai to schedule site visits of their projects, and participate in workshops. [...]

  20. Priya Says:

    I’m a third year Architecture student, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan.
    Some of us here are really interested in working/interning with URBZ Mumbai over our Summer break.
    Could you please let me know how we should go about this if its possible?
    Any information would be great. :)

  21. barefoot Says:

    Hi there, I’m Priyanka Bista, currently an MA student at Oxford Brookes University. I will be coming for my research in a week to Dharavi to map the spatial narrative of Dharavi portrayed through the slum tours. I would love to meet with you and get to know the work you’re doing. Please do contact me at priyanka@LearningGrounds.org

    Thank you again. Hope to see you soon.

    Best Regards, Priyanka

  22. matias Says:

    Feel free to come and visit us but we don’t organize tours!

  23. Fausto Says:

    My name is Fausto, i’m a student of Politecnico of Torino in Italy. To conclude my study i want to prepare a thesis about the urban development and neighborhood life in developing countries. My dream is to write my thesis on-site and collaborate with some NGos or some institute that studying this problem in India or in Asia.
    I would be very happy if you can give me further information/contact emails of NGOs and, i would also be very happy to get in contact with you!
    Thank you so much!

  24. Henrique Koehler Says:

    I’m a german-brazilian inventor and I’ve developed a natural orientation system which is also proper for illiterate people, see http://www.volksnav.com/India. The system also shall substitute postal codes like 400017 and addresses like Block 4/6/12 New Transit Camp….

    The authorities try to ignore it, so I’d appreciate very much if URBZ would make the first step using codes acc. to http://www.volksnav.de/Dharavi for housings, crossing, stop points.

    I ask for your return on that, thank you in advance .

    Henrique Koehler
    Munich Orientation Convention

  25. Rebecca Frost Says:

    I have worked on community setting for many years along with the social housing field for 12 years. I have set up communtiy groups, residents associations and large/small scale consultation events in regeneration, the future of social housing in England, local neighbourhood issues and environmental matters – running renwable energy and efficency projects. I really beleive in the local community feeding into key decision making processes and local issues. Could I provide any help or get involved in any of your projects/ consulation events in any way? P.s I love India!!! Rebecca from Manchester

  26. Homegrown Cities Conference in Mumbai :: Master of International Cooperation Sustainable Emergency Architecture Says:

    [...] on Affordable Housing, organized by the Sir JJ School of Architecture and Lafarge together with URBZ, the Mumbai-based urban collective devoted to facilitating the production and exchange of [...]

  27. Roque Gonsalves Says:

    Hi …may i use information and quotes from your artical on the history of Khotachi Wadi in Mumbai, India.
    Awaiting your response
    Thanks and best regards

    Roque Gonsalves
    Khotachi Wadi

  28. matias Says:

    Dear Roque,

    Of course feel free to use anything you may find useful on the site!


  29. shrinath malve Says:

    hi i am the student of DY PATIL NERUL that you came and host a lecture I really like yous work and gland being intrested in that and now finding a contractor to work and experience .thanksssss

  30. aseem Says:

    Hey, I have recently graduated from IIT Bombay with a B.Tech. in civil engg. I would love to be a part of URBZ, in any way possible. My interests include GIS, statistics and Agent-Based Modelling

  31. Madhuri Says:

    Hi, i am 5th year student of Architecture from K.L.S GIT Belgaum, Karnataka. I really like your work and find subjects like Urban Design, slum development and community building very interesting, I would like to know if you are currently open for interns.

  32. Melanie Says:

    Dear URBZ Team,
    Do you your projects also involve artists?

    I am very interested in doing some collaborative work with you, a workshop, involving the community of Dharavi. I am mainly a painter, but paint on all kinds of materials, even walls and wood. I also work with found and recycled materials. You can also take a look at my work here on my website;

    and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieGdelVillar

    Please let me know if and how you think a collaboration would be possible.

    Best regards,


  33. matias Says:

    Yes we do! We’ll be in touch.

  34. Irene Sunwoo Says:

    I hope that this message finds you well.

    As you may know, in 2015 the City of Chicago will launch the first Chicago Architecture Biennial. Titled ‘The State of the Art of Architecture,’ its two Artistic Directors are Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima. Set to open in October 2015, the Chicago Architecture Biennial will be the first exhibition of its kind in North America. It will present the work of architects and researchers from every region of the world to a global audience, and within the dynamic framework of the city of Chicago.

    As Associate Curator, I am working closely with Sarah and Joseph to develop our curatorial program, publications, and public events. We would be interested to learn more about your current projects and research interests, as well as your own view of ‘The State of the Art of Architecture’ today. We are inviting you to send us a digital portfolio of select projects, or any other representative documents or proposals.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. You can also find more information on our website: http://www.chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org.

    We look forward to hearing from you.


    Irene Sunwoo
    Associate Curator
    Chicago Architecture Biennial

  35. Sharmeen Khan Says:

    Dear URBZ Team,
    I am currently studying MSc. in Architecture & Environmental Design at the University of Westminster. I am working on my thesis, where my focus is to propose a prototype for the living and working conditions for the informal settlements in Mumbai.
    Your article in Domus (Feb 2012) gave me a glimpse of the kind of work you are doing. I am specifically interested in the Tool House. It was very interesting to see the use of space, that one built form has the capability to perform so many functions. I am extremely curious to study how these spaces work environmentally, in terms of quality of thermal and visual comfort. To understand this, I would like to take some spot measurements, readings and surveys. My aim would be to study how these structures perform, learning from them and further how can they be made better and affordable at the same time.
    I request you to grant me permission to conduct these on- site measurements. I will be visiting Mumbai in the month of May. Please let me know if you would be interested in carrying out this exercise. I am looking forward for your response.

    Sharmeen khan,
    University of Westminster, London

  36. Surjyatapa Ray Choudhury Says:

    Dear URBZ Team,

    I am currently working on my B.Arch Thesis from Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh for which I am designing an incremental, modular prototype concerning the living, working and social conditions of migrant cores, for which I have taken up Dharavi as a site. I have been following your work actively on the same, and was hoping if you could guide me on my research and for the on-site analysis. I plan on visiting Mumbai by the end of February.
    Hope to hear from you.


  37. matias Says:

    Sounds good! Please contact us where you are in the big bad city!

  38. Sechaba Says:

    Hi Matias, we met at the 4th Holcim conference in Mumbai, I’m an architect from South Africa. I’ve just completed my PhD and I am exploring different practice models and am very interested in knowing how you guys get funded and what your business model is.

  39. matias Says:

    Hi Sechaba – Yes I remember you! urbz is a collective that we fund ourselves through research and consulting work. Lets talk on skype sometime.

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