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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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Urban spaces like Delhi have been facing land degradation and desertification due to deforestation and constant displacement of top soil for construction of housing and infrastructure.

Two of the major resources the city has to offer is its human power and the biodegradable waste the city generates. The green waste is mostly disposed off in landfills, where instead of becoming a resource, it is here mixed with plastic which makes it degrade slowly. Further, when organic materials decompose in such anaerobic conditions they produce methane, a greenhouse gas.

Given that the waste output of the city is only increasing, this project proposes to bring a very simple small scale solution of treating our waste smartly and using it to create organic matter to improve soil. This simple method also works to prevent the release of greenhouse gases produced due to the decomposition of green waste within anaerobic conditions at waste dumps otherwise.

Here, we are interested in involving Three Window Cafe located within Khoj, via bringing in easy composting practices in the Cafe. The idea is to a) convert KHOJ to be a more green and ecologically sound space. b) initiate dialogue around use of organic waste with those coming into KHOJ as well as at select spaces within the immediate neighborhood of Khirki.

What we want to do in THREE WINDOW CAFE:

Over a period of three months (August-October) we plan to collectively work over 2-3 days per week on the following ideas:

  1. Segregate the biodegradable waste from non-biodegradable waste.
  2. Composting green waste in a terracotta vessel, which will be kept outside the Cafe.
  3. Place an illustrated write up at café space about the ongoing process as well as directions/contacts for ‘how to start your own home composting’.

The compost generated would then be put to use in growing plants within the space. A set of organic plants which can be easily grown and consumed, making a kitchen garden of sorts is envisioned here. The seeds will be sourced from the BeejBachaoAndolan/Save the Seeds campaign which are organic seeds mostly from Uttarakhand. These plants could be either placed within the café space, or on the terrace.

Within KHIRKI:

Further, as the segregation of waste is not in fact a difficult process, we will take this forward by introducing the method of differentiating between biodegradable and non- biodegradable waste through installing multiple bins at select eateries within Khirki. These eateries such as the many African joints in Khirki would then become prototypes for this process of segregating waste for the area. The biodegradable waste collected from these eateries would require the installation of another terracotta decomposition plant at an accessible location for the community. This part of expanding the project into Khirki is seen as the second part, it will take shape according to the process that takes place at the KHOJ café first.


Additionally, as a process of documenting the process of reusing green waste, we would work on an audio piece; to create a soundscape around the use of soil in Delhi and its constant displacement. This will include sound of the earth at a construction site where its been moved using a crane, for instance. It could also possibly cover stories of people connected to the land here in Delhi in various capacities. This soundscape collected from the city will be brought together with already recorded audio from forest and agricultural village spaces of the mountain regions of Uttarakhand where we have previously worked and which are spaces with very different relationship between people and the soil cover.

We would also constantly upload the process of segregation of waste at KHOJ + at eateries in Khirki, compost creation and its subsequent usage, on a blog maintained throughout the activity period.