Publications

Unmute is a biannual print magazine that aims at curating content around contemporary architectural discourse of its time. Each publication is curated around a theme, discussed in a public forum as a part of FNC (Friday Night Conversations). Self published by Compartment S4, Unmute invites creators from various backgrounds to submit articles, essays, photo stories, illustrations etc. expressing ideas, observations or thought constructs in relation to a pre-decided theme.

The States Of Water

Water is the anchor of life and development. It is the basic resource which has concentrated formation of settlements, towns, cities and larger urban networks. In ancient Egypt, all life revolved around the Nile river, mythical stories of the river narrate the prominent presence of its water source. Even today, water is an integral source of life, but the built environment’s relationship to water has changed over the years. The resource runs like an undercurrent in the hidden pipelines of urban fabric, the visibility of water and the activities it engenders has been buried below the surface as urban folk now look onto the horizon it forms. Lakes, tanks, wells and the many traditional water structures – interlinked to social activities - are slowly disappearing to give way to managed pipelines. Water now needs to be managed to cater to a larger population. But, what are the issues in managing water and what are the intrinsic relationships being reformed, as a result?

Water is a complex subject with myriad relationships to people, place, and the environment. In terms of people and their activities, the city of Mumbai has its coastal communities, Varanasi ghats sees religious activities, while fishermen depend on the Kerala waters. With rampant urbanization, newer relationships are being forced in, which need to be designed and developed with water. It is only by understanding the multiplicity of water, we can begin to design with water as an entry point. Water can thus be thought about as an engineering system to be managed, a sociologically driven resource, a source of livelihood, a vantage point in the city, a conservation practice and eventually as a life-supporting resource driving design. Through this issue of Unmute, we want to open out various ways of thinking about water and its potential to propel new ideas of designing our cities at different scales.

We invite briefs for the next issue, which could fall in any of the following categories:

Space and Water: Built environment is directly or indirectly shaped by water and its forms. From the scale of a stepwell and its architectural relationship with water to that of waterfront developments and its spatial relation to the waterbody, all built environments moulded around water require various sensibilities. Here, we invite essays, illustrations or photostories which reflect or critique, design processes or existing built forms of projects shaped around water.

Politics of Water: Water being a resource and more importantly a ‘common resource’, has complexities of ownership, unjust distribution, ecological interests and various socio-economic and cultural intricacies of a context or region linked to it. Here, we invite essays, illustrations or photostories that bring out interesting and intriguing political scenarios built around water, also throwing light on communities and biodiversities deeply dependent on the resource.

Management of Water: With the increasing population, climate change and the layers of a rapidly urbanizing world, water requires a systematic and engineered management. With the two extremes of flooding and drought playing themselves out more often now, a rethinking of water systems is required. Newer ways to increase ground water, improve water conservation methods, technological advancement in plumbing, management of storm water drains and more importantly institutions which can manage and monitor public water. In this section we invite essays, and brief case studies which question, critique existing water systems or provide solutions to water related disasters.

Narratives on Water: Water possesses a magnetism which attracts. In a dessert it is the thirsty traveler, in a dense urban fabric it is the lovers, in a rural hinterland it maybe the nomadic troupe. At the same time, it also defeats, a commuter on a rainy day in Mumbai city, a farmer with a drought ridden farm or a village submerged in floods. In this section we invite essays, photostories, or illustrations which narrate stories around people and water, in many ways binding us to the power of this expansive resource.

Keywords:
Anchor, network, life-support, recreation, vantage, new relationship, resource, conservation, community, livelihood, water management systems

Formats of submitting pitches:
Essays/Articles : 300 word abstract (.pdf)
Illustration/Photo-stories/Visual Art : Conceptual sketches or diagrams & 300 word abstract (.pdf).

Please send in your pitches in the requested format on unmute@compartments4.com by 10th June 2021.

Selected authors will be requested to write their piece in long (1500 words) or short (700 words) format based on the pitches. Selected authors shall be informed by 25th June 2021. Selected authors shall be extended a standardised honararium for thier contribution.

Published by Compartment S4
Supported by Astral Pipes

Songs Of Participation

Songs Of Participation

As design professionals, understanding people, communities and their idiosyncrasies is pivotal when designing for a large number of stakeholders and when the impact of intervention has the potential for a larger repercussion in the community. Designers develop their own ways of understanding and interpreting context. ‘Participation’ is a design tool, which when explored, acts as a means of bridging gaps and rendering a more nuanced relevance to the process as well as its outcome. Participation opens up a range of avenues of negotiating with the context beyond built outcomes. The designer eventually diversifies her/his role to include other modes of engagement that can make the design richer. As one begins to inquire like an anthropologist, raise their voice like an activist and envision systems like a planner, they realise the impact it can create on the design and the way it is perceived and received by people.

Various ways of employing participation as a design tool, lead to varied outcomes of intervention. The mere act of building along with the intent of a prolonged participation with stakeholders, can reinforce a multi-faceted development. Participation as a design tool, has the ability to impact at the small scale of designing a detail as well as at the larger scale of strategic planning and development. 

Is there a possibility for a building project to then extend, to engage the people in long-term skill development initiatives? Can a project result in a sense of community awareness to reinforce and conserve cultural identity? Can a systemic approach towards the development of a context, define a public intervention? 

Processes, stories, data, skill, activism - all form a part of participation and lend to the approach in an integrated manner. With this Issue of Unmute, we aim to explore the many ways of practicing participatory design and the various meanings it attaches to the intervention. Compartment S4 invites various thinkers to ruminate, collect, document and present these methods or experiences in forms of photostories, illustrations, essays and the likes, to recognise various associations individuals attach to the practice of ‘participatory design’. 

Lauching June 2021 !


 

Housing Nitty Gritties - Ideas

The housing sector has a large number of actors including government, non-government organisations, architects and activists, all pulling it in different directions. Instead of allowing ideas to circulate in a nutshell within distinct professional bubbles, there is a need to cross-connect various perspectives towards unanimous goals or models of functioning in the housing sector. 
 
Through this publication, we collate ideas on housing from different professionals to bring them on a common platform, so that each one is encouraged to understand the other’s idiosyncrasy. We hope this behaves as a trigger to re-think the way housing is approached, extending each players’ role beyond what is assumed as their limited scope of work. 

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Housing Nitty Gritties - Narratives

In cities, the housing fabric is driven by planning rules, economic demand and market rates. The principle decision makers are not the users but the bureaucrats and builders’ community, while users are pushed to the bottom of the decision-making chain, merely as 'buyers'. If user perspectives are given a voice, what kind of a cityscape and housing dynamic would they paint?

Through the publication we forage into peoples’ aspirations, memories or even realities, which shape their idea of living in a house. The narratives expressed in essays and illustrations, throw light on the user in housing and importance of thinking of nitty-gritties or smaller details in housing which gather multitude of meanings in a home. The variety of perspectives collated in the publication urges a re-thinking and possibility to break from the current limitations in housing design, by evoking an imagination in the elements of a house.  

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Water is the anchor of life and development. It is the basic resource which has concentrated formation of settlements, towns, cities and larger urban networks. In ancient Egypt, all life revolved around the Nile river, mythical stories of the river narrate the prominent presence of its water source. Even today, water is an integral source of life, but the built environment’s relationship to water has changed over the years. The resource runs like an undercurrent in the hidden pipelines of urban fabric, the visibility of water and the activities it engenders has been buried below the surface as urban folk now look onto the horizon it forms. Lakes, tanks, wells and the many traditional water structures – interlinked to social activities - are slowly disappearing to give way to managed pipelines. Water now needs to be managed to cater to a larger population. But, what are the issues in managing water and what are the intrinsic relationships being reformed, as a result?

Water is a complex subject with myriad relationships to people, place, and the environment. In terms of people and their activities, the city of Mumbai has its coastal communities, Varanasi ghats sees religious activities, while fishermen depend on the Kerala waters. With rampant urbanization, newer relationships are being forced in, which need to be designed and developed with water. It is only by understanding the multiplicity of water, we can begin to design with water as an entry point. Water can thus be thought about as an engineering system to be managed, a sociologically driven resource, a source of livelihood, a vantage point in the city, a conservation practice and eventually as a life-supporting resource driving design. Through this issue of Unmute, we want to open out various ways of thinking about water and its potential to propel new ideas of designing our cities at different scales.

We invite briefs for the next issue, which could fall in any of the following categories:

Space and Water: Built environment is directly or indirectly shaped by water and its forms. From the scale of a stepwell and its architectural relationship with water to that of waterfront developments and its spatial relation to the waterbody, all built environments moulded around water require various sensibilities. Here, we invite essays, illustrations or photostories which reflect or critique, design processes or existing built forms of projects shaped around water.

Politics of Water: Water being a resource and more importantly a ‘common resource’, has complexities of ownership, unjust distribution, ecological interests and various socio-economic and cultural intricacies of a context or region linked to it. Here, we invite essays, illustrations or photostories that bring out interesting and intriguing political scenarios built around water, also throwing light on communities and biodiversities deeply dependent on the resource.

Management of Water: With the increasing population, climate change and the layers of a rapidly urbanizing world, water requires a systematic and engineered management. With the two extremes of flooding and drought playing themselves out more often now, a rethinking of water systems is required. Newer ways to increase ground water, improve water conservation methods, technological advancement in plumbing, management of storm water drains and more importantly institutions which can manage and monitor public water. In this section we invite essays, and brief case studies which question, critique existing water systems or provide solutions to water related disasters.

Narratives on Water: Water possesses a magnetism which attracts. In a dessert it is the thirsty traveler, in a dense urban fabric it is the lovers, in a rural hinterland it maybe the nomadic troupe. At the same time, it also defeats, a commuter on a rainy day in Mumbai city, a farmer with a drought ridden farm or a village submerged in floods. In this section we invite essays, photostories, or illustrations which narrate stories around people and water, in many ways binding us to the power of this expansive resource.

Keywords:
Anchor, network, life-support, recreation, vantage, new relationship, resource, conservation, community, livelihood, water management systems

Formats of submitting pitches:
Essays/Articles : 300 word abstract (.pdf)
Illustration/Photo-stories/Visual Art : Conceptual sketches or diagrams & 300 word abstract (.pdf).

Please send in your pitches in the requested format on unmute@compartments4.com by 10th June 2021.

Selected authors will be requested to write their piece in long (1500 words) or short (700 words) format based on the pitches. Selected authors shall be informed by 25th June 2021. Selected authors shall be extended a standardised honararium for thier contribution.

Published by Compartment S4
Supported by Astral Pipes