World Social Forum 2004, Goregaon, Mumbai

A ‘Solidarity Forum’ as an open and democratic space that allows get-togethers, meetings, networking and solidarity formed the heart of our planning concept. It reflects the political character of the World Social Forum (WSF) as an ‘openspace’. A central avenue, a circular central forum and streets are its main features. Access to the forum is through two large entrance/exit squares. These squares establish a definite sense of space. A large maidan is an integral part of it too.

A host of venues for activities, such as conferences, seminars, film shows, exhibitions and theatre performances, a food court and cultural squares are planned around the solidarity forum. Thus, it remains bustling at all times, a pivot around which the various activities take place. The 140 seminar rooms, with capacities ranging from 50 to 1,000 people, are planned in four clusters, each a neighbourhood with streets and squares. Five large conference rooms of capacities ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 people are developed inside the existing industrial sheds. Coloured fabric has been used extensively for wall and ceiling panels to break the monotony of the industrial structure and also provide a different visual experience within.

A sequence of walls of different sizes and heights characterizes the solidarity forum. Carefully designed openings in these walls offer views of spaces beyond. These walls are also painted in different colours to identify the different areas within the forum.

Bamboo, cotton and jute constitute the three basic materials used in the construction and décor of the venue. The super-structures have been built with bamboo and balli (light wood), tied together to provide a stable framework. These have been wrapped around and finished with jute and cotton fabric. Jute has been used extensively on the forum walls and lends a strong character to the design of the place. It has been left in its natural form, and in places, treated carefully with colour. It has also been used for the roofs of various temporary structures as in the exhibition and food stalls, and for the walls. Restricting the materials used to bamboo, cotton and jute has helped control costs even while giving the WSF-2004 venue a distinct, though humble, character.

Firmly committed to the belief that Another World Is Possible, the World Social Forum (WSF) is an open space for discussing alternatives to the dominant neo-liberal processes, for exchanging experiences and for strengthening alliances among mass organizations, people’s movements and civil society groups.

People’s movements across the world are working to demonstrate that the path to sustainable development and social and economic justice does not lie in neo-liberal globalization but in alternative models for people-centred and self-reliant progress. It proposes democratic alternatives to imperialist globalization. The WSF is a response of the growing international movement that is challenging capitalist-led globalization and the neo-liberal economic policies pursued by most countries.

The WSF’s agenda in India aims to make space for workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, dalits, women, slum-dwellers, hawkers, minorities, immigrants, students, academicians, artisans, artists and other members of the creative world, professionals, the media and for local businessmen and industrialists, as well as for parliamentarians, sympathetic bureaucrats and other concerned sections from within and outside the state.

The total number of participants exceeded 130,000 including over 14,000 foreign delegates from 117 countries. Totally, 1,653 different organizations from the world over were present.

Organisers: WSF India Trust.
Implementation: Venueand Logistics Group, India Organising Committee.
Landarea: 60 acres.
Cost: Rs. 750 lac.
Contractors: R. M. Bhuttherand Co.
Consultants– Electrical: Siddharth Consultants, Siemens Workers’ Union.
Period of construction: 30days.
Supporting architects: Sanjeev Karekar,
Mohammed Ali Momin, Suvendu Das, PerineD’ Avione