Uniting and empowering a diverse, fractured community through engagement, placemaking and art
NATWAR PAREKH COLONY, MUMBAI, INDIA
Natwar Parekh Colony, a vertical public housing complex, is home to more than 25,000 people from diverse castes, religions, and classes. who were relocated from throughout the city into tiny apartments, most without proper ventilation or natural light. This impacts health, personal safety, equity and inclusion– and results in a sense of disconnected isolation, especially for women and girls.
Six years ago, we started using space-based interventions to unite informal street vendors, build a popular children’s library, turn garbage-strewn alleys into inviting outdoor spaces and encourage youth-initiated placemaking projects—the first time many girls and boys interacted.
In 2022, realizing young people needed ways to express and process their experiences and identities, we launched a six-month long arts festival. Practicing Mumbai artists came to the neighbourhood as mentors. The youth enthusiastically created photography, theatrical performances, visual art, films and even a now-viral rap song. All culminating in a five-day event attended by more than 5,000 people from within and outside the neighbourhood. The positive momentum goes well beyond the festival, inspiring residents to be even more vocal self-advocates with city officials. Sparking ambitious—and achievable plans for even more community regeneration.