Image: Poster by Samprati Pani

Image: Poster by Samprati Pani

Building, Dwelling, Making: Three Readings on Delhi
Speakers: Mohammad Sayeed, Sarover Zaidi and Samprati Pani

May 4 | 5:30 pm
C 13, Pamposh Enclave, New Delhi

‘Architecture is not simply about space and form, but also about event, action, and what happens in space.’ —Bernard Tschumi, The Manhattan Transcripts, 1976–1981
This session attempts to understand the modes through which a city is created incrementally, both in its material forms and in the modes of habitation people undertake to make it their own. Moving between legality/illegality, aesthetics/taste, everyday lives and memory, the city dweller is continuously suggesting techniques of navigating the city yet dwelling in it. This session will explore these techniques that come to make city life through housing, the monumental, bazaars and everyday use. 
Building: On the architectures of congestion Building is as much about reshaping legal limitations, political scenarios, local solidarities and community aesthetics as it is a play of abstract lines, steel, cement and bricks. Building is an activity to make claim over the city spaces and touches upon the registers of law, history and memory. This intervention explores the idea of ‘building’ in the architectures of congestion, working with illustrations from Old Delhi and Jamia Nagar. 

Sayeed is an urban anthropologist, working on architectures of congestion, spatiality of religion and politics of crowds. He blogs at
Dwelling: Of love and other monuments Delhi is embossed with innumerable monuments and ruins. Caught mostly in the nostalgia discourse, or the discussion on the contributions of Mughals and other dynasties in the making of the city, we mostly forget that these spaces also provide us with locations of the everyday. This project explores the manners in which spaces of ruin, burial, and history come to be inhabited by lovers, friends, families and vendors. Functioning sometimes as picnic spots, places of rest and sleep, or as spaces of intimacy, love, secrecy or just leisure, the monument becomes a place for dwelling, and not just a historical artifact. This photo essay undertaken in collaboration with Brianna Blasko will explore some of modes of dwelling and the monumental in the city of Delhi.
Sarover Zaidi is an anthropologist and currently works on the arts, architecture and iconography in Islamic contexts.
Making: Designs of/in the Bazaar A weekly bazaar is a coming together of sights, smells, sounds, energies, colours, textures, displays, objects, bodies, traffic, graphic advertisements, sales talk and more. One possible way of engaging with the sensorial excess of the bazaar is through the concept of design, understood as a process rather than a finished product or a fixed form or plan imposed on matter. This ongoing project located across weekly bazaars in different neighborhoods of Delhi is an attempt to open up how we see and understand the making of city spaces as well as the making of an ethnography. 

Samprati Pani is a doctoral candidate at the department of sociology, Shiv Nadar University. She has worked in academic publishing for many years and is the co-founder of a design studio that specializes in book design. Her interests include everyday aesthetics, city spaces, street typography and practices of street vending. She blogs at


Listen to parts of the talk on Soundcloud