Aditi Mehta, Ph.D. is a scholar and educator of urban studies and planning.

Urban Typhoon Khirkee Village



Khirkee Village is an unplanned urban village in New Delhi, India with a rich history centered around the Khirkee Mosque.  The area had always been agricultural land, but after the declaration of the 1962 Master Plan, city officials acquired some parts of the property for urban development.  This development proceeded in a haphazard, chaotic way, even with municipal attempts control and maintain its growth.  The neighborhood is adjacent to the Saket District Center, which is bustling with enormous, new shopping malls redefining the character and lifestyles of the community.  Thus, residents of Khirkee Village are in danger of losing their geographic territory and identity.

From November 9-16th, 2010, I was a participant of the Urban Typhoon Conference in Khirkee Village. The Urban Typhoon workshop invites artists, architects, activists, and academics from all over the world to ideate with residents, grassroots groups and other users of Khirkee Village Delhi. The event aimed at reclaiming the locality by collectively generating multiple ideas, visions and plans for its future.

I formed a team with three talented ladies: Alisha Mody, a social entrepreneur from London, as well as Anette Flygansvaer and Gislunn Halfdanardottir, two architects from Norway.  Our idea was to create a guidebook for the nameless and unpaved, yet bustling corridor in the village known as Khirkee Extension. We thought that by doing this, we could perhaps stimulate brainstorming among community members of what an “authorized” or “formalized” Khirkee Extension could and should be envisioned as in the future.  Maybe our guide – created by outsiders – would spur dialogue among insiders about the changing identity of the place.

We began our research by visiting almost every single shop along the corridor and informally chatting with those who worked there or were visiting the establishments, to simply learn more.  Throughout the week, we also photographed the street in its entirety in order to create an accurate map with building footprints.  And of course, we sampled the street’s several tea shops, snack stalls, and dhabas, which are small local restaurants or truck stops. I also live blogged the workshop experience on CoLab Radio