*This device was the product of collaboration, wherein the main designers were Deepanshu Arneja, Surbhi Singhal, and Niroopa Subrahmanyam
PROJECT LARI was an international design competition that took place in 2020 and sought innovative proposals of movable-urban devices in the Indian context. The pursuit was to reimagine street carts ―’laris’―, keeping in mind women as a target user group and explore the potentials of informal commerce as a legitimate economic resource, while reevaluating the possibilities it offers in the construction of public space. As an initiative developed with Urbz and the Self-Employed Women’s Association Federation (SEWA), the objective of the competition was to find an outstanding proposal in order to detail, construct, and implement it in a collaboration with Chaal.Chaal.Agency.
As a design-build competition, it developed in six subsequent phases: announcement, development, judgment, construction, implementation, and post-occupancy evaluation. Once the jury panel was incorporated into the process by the third stage, a proposal was selected in collation with Pushpaben’s participation (the recipient) and accord, which successfully articulated the different expectations set in the competition brief. Entitled ‘Madam Narangi’, the selected entry proposed a transformable device that not only anticipated diverse spatial conditions that reinterpreted behavioral values of Indian urbanity but successfully integrated a complex system of elements in a frugal yet playful way. One of the strong suits of the proposal was the clever identification of the social role of these devices, wherein they serve domestic purposes, can be eventually rented out for events, or be utilized in the context of open-air markets.
In that manner, the designers read the relation between domesticity and the street in the Indian context in a sensible manner, by capitalizing on the ambiguous limits between the private and the public as well as the socio-economic implications that abide to the potentials of the thresholds and the in-betweens.
The winning team -composed of the Delhi-based architects Deepanshu Arneja, Surbhi Singhal, and Niroopa Subrahmanyam– further developed the constructive project under the tutelage of Chaal.Chaal.Agency, whilst focusing on physical models and smaller prototypes for continued corroboration with manufacturers and Pushpaben herself. Once the project was completed, the device was taken to the community where Pushpaben appropriated it and happily began using it; the current stage of the project is the continuous evaluation of its successes and failures based on the daily usage of the device.