Here is a presentation of a classroom building project in a stone quarry worker settlement in Navi Mumbai, India as a case study for demonstrating the notion of architectural collaboration as a catalyst for civic empowerment and social change. At stake is a more concrete and nuanced understanding of the nature and settings of what is too-often generalised as ‘public space’. The provision of amenity buildings and post-hoc infrastructure creates situations of negotiation with constituents, who in turn develop a civic commitment and solidarity in the course of the work. These negotiations depend upon subtle and rich cultural contexts, which become evident during the course of the project, and which properly characterise ‘public’ in this non-Western culture. In this way the project is a vehicle of research and understanding, not an application of a theoretical approach divorced from the concrete conditions.