Resilience and recognition of an unseen typology – part 1

Dharavi is a homegrown neighborhood, its development occurred without a master plan or construction law, emerging from the inhabitants' needs. Built structures and open spaces come in many shapes in forms – with a recurring and flexible work-home typology known as the tool-house.

The Village Inside / The Slum Outside

Bringing knowledge and skills from their villages, generations of Dharavi residents have pushed the slum outside of their homes, streets and neighbourhoods. Isn't it time we recognize and support their efforts? We compile and republish two texts originally published by New Village Press in New York and Strelka University Press in Moscow. 

Transcending pasts

We sat with Arun, who runs Arunodaya (a rehabilitation center) to discuss his work and past. 

Past or Future?

A conflicting conversation with Ankush and Sultaan, both residents of Dharavi. 


Popping in Pink

Aatma Devi is working towards her goal of creating an equitable world for women. 

Pushpa's Pulse

Pushpa has been living in Dharavi since she was born. Our day starts with her bright smile as she sells pulses right outside the urbz office. We recently had a little chat with her.

The ABCD of Koliwada

We have spent the last fifteen years in the neighbourhood of Dharavi, actively participating in the user-driven evolution of its material and social life. This has given us the confidence to conceptualise and embark on a project called “The ABCD of Dharavi Koliwada”. This article outlines the vision for the project. 

A Koliwada in Dharavi

This article presents the Koliwada in Dharavi through the evolution of its built and natural environment, tracing the Koli's fight for their land, how the community is leading the development of their neighbourhood and our role in it. 

re:arc selects urbz!

Following up on the biggest news we had in our yearly update, we want to share more about how we got to kickstart our dream project in Dharavi Koliwada. Here we go. 


Dharavi SRA tenants on the Redevelopment project

The announcement of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project brings unanswered questions with it. To gain insight into the housing rehabilitation process, we spoke to Suryakant and Mohammed, whose homes were rehabilitated by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) some years ago. 

2024 - Here we are !

We take a moment to reflect on urbz's achievements in 2023 and our objectives for 2024. We started in Mumbai in 2008 where we are busier than ever. Over the years we expanded our activities to Goa, Bogota, Geneva and now Paris. For 2024, we make the good resolution of communicating better and more frequently with our friends and followers!

Paan fried fish: Industry meets Environment

We recently travelled from Mumbai to Chiplun and then onward to reach Sawarde, a small village in the Konkan region. While we enjoyed the abundant landscape we also discovered some sobering realities. 

Mumbai's Toolhouse features in the Built Environment Journal

Our article on the Toolhouse was published in the Built Environment, a quarterly publication on a diverse range of contemporary issues, the focus of this issue is live-work spaces. We present snippets of the article from the latest issue of the Built Environment - 'Homes that Work', Volume 49 - number 3.

Spirit of the place, are you there?

Urban gardens are multiplying around the world, responding to the impulse of people that want more green and social spaces in their neighborhoods. urbz was invited to host a series of brainstorming sessions at the Jardin des Moraines in Geneva.

John Turner - From Lima to Mumbai

Latin America and India share a common history of experimentation in slum-upgrading and incremental housing strategies. The ideas of John Turner, who was informed by years of work in Lima, in particular have inspired some of the most progressive schemes and projects in Mumbai and other parts of India.

Aqua Civica

A community-led water supply project as a device to upgrade urban citizenship

On urban and ecological memories: What makes a Koliwada?

Navigating down Mithi River's intricacies between landscape and identity in Dharavi Koliwada, where urban and ecological memories contest homogenizing narratives and challenge the city’s accessibility and sustainability.


NYU AD students explore a user-driven website to establish new communication channels among locals, visitors, entrepreneurs and civic institutions.


Dharavi Koliwada Pipeline Project

NYU Abu Dhabi students collaborate with the Koli community and the urbz team to address water supply and drainage for Dharavi-Koliwada.


Handstorming in Dharavi Continues

NYU Abu Dhabi students are back in Dharavi, this time for more in-depth interactions with various community members of the neighbourhood.

The Golden Thread

One among the many ways of watching Nishtha Jain’s exquisite documentary, ‘The Golden Thread’ (2022), is by following the imagination of urbanist Patrick Geddes.

Inside-Out | The Case of Vithoba Ganpat Chawl

Looking back at one of the redeveloped chawls in Dharavi, we share the experiences of the people living in a space where staying inside gives the experience of being on the outside - thanks to special features such as the building’s location, orientation, ventilation, and natural lighting. 


Diverse Aspirations - The Case of Jairam Sheth Chawl

The article reflects on the lifestyles and aspirations of the residents of Jairam Sheth Chawl, in Dharavi Koliwada, Mumbai, and recognizes the contradictions in the type of homes they aspire to inhabit and the experiences and relationships they want to take forward from their current homes. 

1000 Voices

Dharavi has creativity and diversity deeply embedded into its landscape. It houses schools, hospitals, mosques, temples, pottery studios, craftsmen, leather industries, textile workshops, food production units

Dharavi works

Dharavi works is a series of projects designed in Mumbai by urbz in partnership with local inhabitants and contractors.

ICRC Campus

urbz is working on a comprehensive plan for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) HQ in Geneva. About 1200 people work in Geneva and another 20,000 work in over 100 conflict zones around the world

The IFRC Park will be open to the public


The urbz team is working with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC) in Geneva on a participatory landscape design involving staff, neighbors and partners.

Gendered Mobility and Climate Action

This project is undertaken under the C40 Women For Climate mentorship program, Mumbai in collaboration with the Government of Maharashtra. The Mentee, Vidisha Dhar, is supported by Lubaina Rangwala (WRI), urbz

Covid-19 in Dharavi

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 urbz has been researching its effect on the people of Dharavi. 

Handstorm in Dharavi

Our annual Handstorm workshops in Dharavi with the "Engineers for Social Impact" from NYU Abu Dhabi generate incremental innovations that improve the quality of life in this massive settlement

Urban Typhoon Kochi, June 4-9, 2019

June 4-9, 2019

The Urban Typhoon workshop in Kochi is open to all citizens and visitors interested in working in urban areas and are willing to engage with communities participation. Together we will explore

Koliwada Charcha

The exhibition Koliwada Charcha is an attempt at understanding the essence of Dharavi Koliwada's architectural and visual language. 


Public consultation for a densification project in Geneva / Démarche de concertation pour un projet de densification au Petit-Saconnex, Genève.

Circulatory Urbanism

For the past 5 years, urbz has been following families who's lives are spread between Mumbai and their ancestral villages in the Konkan (Western India).

pots in kumbharwada

Make in Dharavi

This series of interviews portrays the economic life of Dharavi in Mumbai through the activities of its inhabitants.

Delta V

Project de quartier participatif à Versoix, Genève (09.2017 - 02.2019)
Participation planning project in Geneva, Switzerland.

Proyecto Manila

Building a Community center by understanding social dynamics and participatory planning in a homegrown neighborhood in Bogota


Generating new models for participatory development for Ulleung island in South Korea


urbz has been involved with the heritage precinct of Khotachiwadi for nearly a decade. We have organized many events workshops there and produced a strategic plan for the area among other things.

Mashup workshops

The mashup workshops take many different forms and happen in all kinds of places. They take specific neighbourhoods as sources of inspiration and unleash a maximum of creativity onto them!

Homegrown cities

This experiment in affordable housing led to the co-designing and construction of a small house in Shivaji Nagar, in Govandi. A neighbourhood in Mumbai that is struggling against all odds to keep growing and

The Design Comes as We Build

urbz invited local builders from Dharavi to design the best possible house they could imagine. These designs were translated into physical models by artisans. 

Homegrown Things

We produced everyday-life objects based on the specific needs of residents and the skills available in the Shivaji Nagar area in Mumbai.

Place, Work, Folk

Place, Work, Folk is a fortnightly column in The Hindu Sunday Magazine by Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava, which is inspired by Patrick Geddes and analyzes current urban issues in India and beyond.

Bareilly Street

Studies, workshops, street exhibition and plans towards making a small square in Dharavi children friendly

Urban Typhoon

Urban Typhoon is a 5 days long workshop taking place working with local associations to generate programmes and plans for the improvement or preservation of neighbourhoods.