Project Type

Inter-office International Competition

Project Output

Design Proposal

Project Length

Won: First Position


HKS Inc. – Dallas, USA


Gurgaon, India




Husain Zaidi, Anish Prem Kumar, Amit Kurien, Ripudaman Singh


HKS Dallas office organized an inter-office competition, inviting all the HKS employees from across the world (4 continents, 23 offices) to pitch a design proposal, demanding an intervention within your city. The format of the competition was to submit 2 x Panels and a 1 page report. The proposed design could be of any scale and any nature, ranging from industrial design to landscape or urban design to architecture interventions. We decided to go with an unconventional approach, to design a product that has an impact on urban scale! I was an intern architect at the time of this competition, working with HKS. I was recruited by my mentors to help with the 3D articulation of the product and weaving the narrative. We targeted the nearby slum, close to our office, for the intervention. The iidea was to focus on the area that was most neglected by the designers of modern world. Slums are often placed under the microscope of critique and ‘inconvenience’ by the city designers. We wanted to break this barrier and design for the happiness of slum dwellers, promoting empathy for all! The basic design fundamental ewas to ‘do more with less’, which is why we aimed to create a product made completely out of waste products generally found in slum junkyard.
We won the competition and came at the first place.Our work was recognized and appreciated throughout the HKS offices around the globe. While going through the comments on proposal and messages from the peers, we recognized that the narrative that people appreciated the most was, that we not only catered to the overlooked community of our society, but also we aimed at improving it not by conventional ways of urban design but by designing for their ‘happiness’!

Design for Happiness

Rapid urbanization has given birth to cities identified by sprawling towers, bustling traffic and modern technology. Nested within these cities are informal migrant settlements, also known as “slums”. The word slum itself conjures images of squalor, crime and disease.


For long, urban planning authorities have ignored slums, however these slums are incredible engines for the cities growth and transformation. Despite their seeming chaos, slums are in fact energetic, efficient and purposeful. Slums are places of enterprise, creativity and frugal innovation known colloquially in Hindi as “JUGAAD”. Navi Rajdou in his book “Jugaad innovation, Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough growth” defines Jugaad as an innovative fix or a simple work- around used for solutions that bend rules.


Key principles of Jugaad such as “do more with less” or “think and act with flexibility” ” resonate with key ideas of sustainability. In most slums Jugaad is literally a way of life. From recycling plastic bottles, wasteful electronic parts discarded metal parts, these slum dwellers use their imagination to make something out of these discarded objects. Rightly put by the Guardian; Waste not want not defines the lifestyle of these slums.


What if the concept of Jugaad could be scaled up to do more; to make a difference?


What if one could employ Jugaad to enhance the cultural or social aspect of a particular space?
What if we as architects could design an object of happiness for the slum dwellers?

Meet C# Slum orchestra. Recycled beat box. Wheel of happiness.

C# is a musical instrument made from those every day “useless” objects found on streets through Jugaad. A melodious solace to the lives of these slum dwellers. A symbol of hope ,a harbinger of happiness, C# would not only change the way lack luster slum spaces would behave but also inspire further works of “JUGAAD” urbanism .C# combines string, percussion and wind instruments harmoniously.

Inspiration Mood Board


C# comes to life by the user through two input points (one provides for the rhythm and the other the tune; sounds from both adding to form the melody)


  1. The Wheel: On rotating the wheel, the string, wind and percussion instruments are individually activated through simple systems. These systems
    could be initially setup according to the desired rhythm of the song. These systems would be in sync with each other and would depend on the
    rotation of the primary wheel. 
  2. Individual Keys: Individual keys have been designed to give the user the power to create a melody. Pressing a key, results in creating sound from
    the pipes at the top.

Each new situation requires a new architecture and C # is an honest creation in this case to enhance the life of the slum dwellers.