Na­tional Con­fer­ence on In­for­mal Set­tle­ments in In­dian Cities

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As part of the BInUCom Project, a con­fer­ence on ‘In­for­mal Set­tle­mentsIn­dian Cities — Im­pulses for In­no­va­tion in Ar­chi­tec­ture and

Ur­ban Plan­ning Ed­u­ca­tion’ was or­gan­ised in Coim­bat­ore from

1-4 Septem­ber 2016.

This con­fer­ence brought to­gether peo­ple from three dis­tinct groups of pro­fes­sion­als such as the ex­perts from higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions of ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning in In­dia, the ex­perts from the Euro­pean part­ner­ing in­sti­tu­tions, and those from the do­mains of ar­chi­tec­ture, NGOs etc. from In­dia to ex­change ideas on ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning ed­u­ca­tion, and the prob­lems of in­for­mal set­tle­ments. These is­sues were dis­cussed through pre­sen­ta­tions on var­i­ous is­sues and case stud­ies of in­for­mal set­tle­ments from their re­spec­tive places. A series of doc­u­men­taries was screened as well. In the in­au­gu­ral ses­sion, Dr. Ta­nia Berger, Danube Univer­sity, Krems, Aus­tria, and co­or­di­na­tors of the BInUCom Project gave a brief in­tro­duc­tion about the project, the fund­ing agen­cies, part­ner­ing in­sti­tu­tions, goals, and the ex­pected out­comes. Af­ter the in­au­gu­ral ses­sion, the con­fer­ence pro­ceed­ings started with a pre­sen­ta­tion on In­for­mal Built En­vi­ron­ments and In­clu­sive Ur­ban Com­mu­ni­ties in Select Ar­chi­tec­ture Cur­ric­ula in In­dia’ by ar­chi­tect Na­garaju Kaja from the School of Plan­ning and Ar­chi­tec­ture, Vi­jayawada (SPAV), who pre­sented the sur­vey re­sults and an anal­y­sis of the cur­ric­ula of ar­chi­tec­ture ed­u­ca­tion in se­lected in­sti­tu­tions in In­dia. This sur­vey is pri­mar­ily car­ried out to un­der­stand the present ar­chi­tec­ture cur­ric­ula. It gave an in­sight into the var­i­ous sub­jects and the amount of in­for­mal­ity re­lated syl­labus in the B. Ar­chi­tec­ture cur­ric­ula across In­dian uni­ver­si­ties. Dr. Darshini Ma­hade­via from CEPT (Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­men­tal Plan­ning and Tech­nol­ogy), Ahmedabad, spoke about the ped­a­gogy adopted, var­i­ous fac­ul­ties in the univer­sity, and the way in which is­sues of in­for­mal­ity are ad­dressed. Mr. Thomas Pf­ef­fer, Danube Univer­sity, Krems, Aus­tria ex­plained the goals of the BInUCom project. He fur­ther shared how aca­demic re­sources have to be freely ac­ces­si­ble for in­no­va­tion in higher ed­u­ca­tion rather than lim­it­ing them for com­mer­cial dis­tri­bu­tion. Dr. Aneerudha Paul, Ka­mala Ra­heja Vidyanidhi In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tec­ture (KRVIA), Mum­bai, ex­plained var­i­ous learn­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties through in­for­mal­i­ties via case stud­ies such as the city’s busy Dadar rail­way sta­tion, the eastern water­front, the in­dus­tries in Dhar­avi, the Cin­ema City project and so on. He ex­plained how aca­demic frame­works can be evolved from map­ping to an­a­lyt­i­cal tools to pol­icy for­mu­la­tion. The pre­sen­ta­tion by

Dr. Anil Ku­mar from NIT, Cali­cut, on ‘In­clu­sive Di­men­sions of Ver­nac­u­lar Ar­chi­tec­ture from Ar­chi­tec­tural Ed­u­ca­tion Per­spec­tive’ at­tempted to un­der­stand the as­pects of ver­nac­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture from an in­clu­sive devel­op­ment of shel­ter and ex­plored de­sign as a process to in­volve peo­ple and their cul­ture, ma­te­ri­als, tech­nol­ogy for af­ford­able hous­ing. It fur­ther tried to iden­tify the fac­tors in­built in ver­nac­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture which can be part of the cur­ricu­lum for in­clu­sive com­mu­ni­ties. Dr. Sho­van K Saha, Dean, Sharda Univer­sity, ex­pressed his views to­wards a need-based pro­gramme for im­prov­ing liv­ing en­vi­ron­ments of in­for­mal set­tle­ments in In­dian cities. Dr. Balvin­der Singh from Gu­runanak Dev Univer­sity pre­sented his thoughts on the growth of plan­ning schools in In­dia and the way in­for­mal set­tle­ments and so­cial in­clu­sion are taught in their Univer­sity through var­i­ous stu­dio and the­ory sub­jects, along with the tech­nol­ogy they use as a tool in the teach­in­glearn­ing process. Dr. Chetan Vaidya, Di­rec­tor, SPA Delhi, spoke about the ‘need for in­no­va­tion ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning ed­u­ca­tion for mak­ing In­dian cities more in­clu­sive’. He stressed upon the im­por­tance of chang­ing the model cur­ricu­lum by CoA and AICTE. Vi­jay So­honi ex­plained how a slum ‘Erand­wadi’ was de­vel­oped with help from the gov­ern­ment along with pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion. He demon­strated how the en­tire slum was trans­formed into a bet­ter place to live. Ur­ban con­ser­va­tion as an im­por­tant as­pect of ar­chi­tec­tural and plan­ning ed­u­ca­tion, seen mainly through a ‘peo­ple-cen­tred’ ap­proach. Jigna De­sai ex­plained this ap­proach and the ways it can be in­cor­po­rated in con­ser­va­tion stud­ies. Pro­fes­sor Partha Mukhopad­hya pre­sented his views on how com­mu­ni­ties in gen­eral are marginalised in our cities, and fo­cused on the is­sues of bound­aries in ur­ban ar­eas. Dhi­raj Sal­ho­tra pre­sented his study of a slum in Guwa­hati city. World Bank Con­sul­tant Anandiya Ku­mar Sarkar shared his ex­pe­ri­ence whilst work­ing on a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion project in Odisha, and the ways in which sim­ple con­struc­tion de­tails were in­cor­po­rated in the ex­e­cu­tion of the project. Dr. Srini­vas Tade­palli, NIT, Trichy, de­lib­er­ated his views on how the­o­ri­sa­tion can help in teach­ing about in­for­mal set­tle­ments. He pro­posed var­i­ous stu­dio/the­ory/as­sign­ment­based cour­ses at the Mas­ter’s level pro­grammes. Dr. Anan­thakr­ishna, CMR Col­lege of Ar­chi­tec­ture, Ben­galuru, spoke about ori­ent­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture cur­ricu­lum to the needs of the havenots. He opined that the cur­ricu­lum needs in­clu­sion of var­i­ous as­pects of the have-nots, and pro­fes­sional train­ing un­der or­gan­i­sa­tions like HUDCO, slum clear­ance boards, hous­ing boards and NGOs. Dr. Binu­mol Tom, RGIT, Kot­tayam, pre­sented her views on how gen­der­based plan­ning and de­sign needs spe­cial at­ten­tion in ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning ed­u­ca­tion. She ex­plained that ver­nac­u­lar set­tle­ments, bet­ter street light­ing and land­scap­ing, mixed use of build­ings, and build­ing neigh­bour­hoods with so­cio-cul­tural pref­er­ences of peo­ple, are the best ways to achieve such plan­ning and de­sign. Mr. Zayed Kadi ex­plained how smart peo­ple are im­por­tant to smart cities for in­clu­sive devel­op­ment. He ex­plained how peo­ple should adopt to con­trol­ling food habits and cu­ra­tive ap­proach through in­clu­sion of civic sense to stay fit and smart. Ar­chi­tect Prasanna De­sai from Pune gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on how the peo­ple-par­tic­i­pa­tory ap­proach helps in slum re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion with the name ‘tai­lor-made trans­for­ma­tion’ through his work in a slum in Pune. Gau­tam Chater­jee, IAS, in charge of the Dhar­avi re­de­vel­op­ment project dis­cussed on the fea­si­bil­ity of Prad­han Mantri Awas Yo­jna -- Hous­ing for

All (PMAY). Bhavna Vi­mawala from SCET, Su­rat dis­cussed the in­no­va­tive cur­ric­ula in­clud­ing in­di­vid­ual study course-re­lated prac­tices needed for so­cial in­clu­sion in mak­ing fu­ture ar­chi­tects and plan­ners. Doc­u­men­taries such as ‘Neo Lib­eral Vi­sions’, cu­rated by Ro­han Shivku­mar, were screened dur­ing the con­fer­ence. All the pre­sen­ta­tions were di­vided into four ses­sions chaired by Dr. Ab­dul Razak from SPA, Vi­jayawada, Dr. Chetan Vaidya from SPA, Delhi, Dr. Darshini Ma­hade­via from CEPT, Dr. Anan­thakr­ishna from Ban­ga­lore and Dr. PSN Rao, SPA, Delhi re­spec­tively. This was BInUCom’s at­tempt to dis­cover the ini­ti­a­tions re­quired for a change in the cur­ric­ula of higher ed­u­ca­tion in ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning for the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment of in­for­mal and marginalised sec­tors in In­dia. The dis­cus­sions on the in­for­mal set­tle­ments in In­dian cities that were stressed upon in­clude the sig­nif­i­cance of the so­cial in­clu­sion and in­for­mal set­tle­ment devel­op­ment through ed­u­ca­tion at var­i­ous lev­els with ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sional train­ing and ca­pac­ity build­ing. The views ex­changed by the ex­perts val­ued the ed­u­ca­tional ped­a­gogy, teach­ing method­ol­ogy, and dis­cussed var­i­ous lev­els of in­te­gra­tion re­quired as per the year and learn­ing in­put, through var­i­ous teach­ing-learn­ing method­olo­gies in­clud­ing re­search and devel­op­ment of ap­pro­pri­ate in­for­mal set­tle­ments. This con­fer­ence stressed upon the need to look in to the present ar­chi­tec­ture and plan­ning cur­ricu­lum, and the need for in­no­va­tion and in­clu­sion of marginalised com­mu­ni­ties along with their con­cerns sur­round­ing sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.

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