Transactional Objects

Copy of  Transactional Objects Book


This work is produced with assistance of Kaushal Vadake, Dhruv Chavan, Vinit Dharia, and and institutional support from School of Environment and Architecture, Borivali, Mumbai


Transactional Objects is a part of a long-term research on urban form. Urban form here refers to the specific configuration of space and form – the distinct spatiality – of a city or a neighbourhood. For example, a street with boundary walls along its edges is different from a street with shops along its edges. The boundary wall and the shops provide specific configurations of form and space – they define the urban form of the street.

Different urban forms have different transactional capacities – the capacity to afford flows of bodies, commodities, ideas, money, etc. through it. Higher the flows, higher the transactional capacity. In the above example, the transactional capacity of a street with boundary walls is lower than the street with the shops, which allows much more flows. Transactional Capacity also indicates the affordance of the form. When the transactional capacity increases in a form, it is able to afford higher densities, number of  activities,  networks, transactions, livelihoods, security, diversity, care etc.


Spaces and practices in the city often diffuse the differences set up by notions of public and private space, urban property regimes, concepts of inside and outside space, and all other ideas that define spaces through clear boundaries. This diffusion produces a blurred form of the city, where boundaries get constantly made, erased and remade through numerous claims. The morphing of building envelopes, the mutations in plot shapes and diffusion of edges constitutes the blur. The logic of the city, its enterprise, property relationships, and much of life gets worked out in this blur. Higher the degree of blur in the urban form, more it is its affordance and higher is the transactional capacity.

Transactional Objects are part of the urban form that add to the blur and increase the transactional capacity. Extension to shops, folding shops of street vendors, porting devices, resting apparatus, fixtures fixed on boundary walls that help occupy them, things used to claim space, orphaned furniture left for wanderers, etc. are all examples of such transactional objects. These are not just utilitarian to facilitate transactions. These are also instances of dreams trying to take shape and aspirations trying to get worked out. They are usually quirky, erotic, sedimented and absurd. They are unique to particular cities. It is through them that cities settle. Settling here is a process through which people come to terms with each other’s lives. It is not a process in which contradictions get resolved; instead, through settling, contradictions are able to co-exist. Settling is a continuous process, which keeps the city in a perpetual state of becoming. During this process, the transactional objects get layered further, or change, or disappear. The logic of this transformation is often incremental, sporadic and based on parameters that are beyond the detection of empirical methods.

Parts of this work have been shown at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) and at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (2017). The exhibition at Project 88 is a speculation on the next incremental transformation in some of the transactional objects.

Copy of  Transactional Objects Book

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