Sustainable Architecture(s) - Humane Cities
Making Better Cities: Key Emergent insights from the Field Worldwide
S. Vidyarthi
9:30 am - 11:00 am


How can we help create more healthy, equitable, and humane cities on this increasingly urbanized planet facing growing uncertainties? This talk will begin by drawing insights from two recent books: Planning for the Common Good and The Urban Planning Imagination that offer practical advice useful for collaborative design and planning work. Exploring the vital and fundamental concepts of common good and human imaginations, the two books summarize previous literatures and present fresh insights. For example, in the former text, Mick Lennon argues that the common good is neither an abstract notion nor something out there but varies per context and often emerges via collectively pursued efforts. Along similar lines, Nicholas Phelps explores how creative imaginations are central to the work architects and planners do in the latter book.

The presentation will next illustrate select cases combining imaginative planning and creative design work in the pursuit of common good from different parts of the world. The first case of Laporiya village from the arid state of Rajasthan describes the residents’ successful and self-help quest for collecting and storing rainwater for yearlong use in agricultural and household activities. The second case describes the planning and building of Hāthigaon, a purposefully designed settlement by RMA for elephants and Mahouts near the fort of Amer in Jaipur. Foliage and freshwater fundamental needs of happy elephants, especially in dry climates. But how can designers help create and foster common good beyond the needs of a single settlement? The third case comprises the ongoing studio work of Master of City Design students at the University of Illinois Chicago. Led by UPP faculty Dr. Sevin Yildiz and SOM Partner Phil Enquist, the studio explores inventive solutions for urban flash floods that are increasingly affecting cities worldwide including those in India. Using a combination of cutting-edge planning concepts like green and blue infrastructures, integrative analyses of subterranean soil absorption capacity and hydrological flow patterns, students explore a wide range of feasible designs. The talk will conclude by summarizing key insights and takeaway lessons from the presentation.


Sanjeev is Professor of City Design and Spatial Planning in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Chicago where he is Director of the Masters of City Design Program. His doctorate is from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in Urban and Regional Planning. Trained as an architect, urban designer and spatial planner, Sanjeev studies how to make better plans for places. Exploring spatial plans and city design efforts in a variety of settings, like planned neighborhoods, new towns, historic cities, and mega-regions, his research explores who does (and should do) the planning work. Sanjeev has lived, worked and studied in the Middle East, Western Europe, and the United States while examining the case of city planning in contemporary India. His scholarship combines a comparative lens, integrative framework, and insider/outsider perspective. He works with progressive scholars and professional practitioners worldwide.


Selected publications include: City Planning in India – 1947-2017. Routledge, 2020 [with Ashok Kumar and Poonam Prakash]; Understanding India’s New Approach to Spatial Planning and Development. Oxford, 2017 [with Shishir Mathur and Sandeep Agrawal]; and One Idea, Many Plans: An American City Design Concept in Independent India. Routledge, 2015. Recent essays include: Charles Hoch: A Pesky Pragmatist. Colloquium with Bish Sanyal, John Forester, and Niraj Verma. Planning Theory, 2019; Spatial Plans in Post-liberalization India: Who’s Making the Plans for Fast-growing Urban Regions? Journal of Urban Affairs, 2018; Learning from Groundwater: Pragmatic Compromise Planning Common Goods. [With Charlie Hoch] Environment and Planning C, 2018.

Session Details
9:30 am - 11:00 am
Wednesday 23rd March, 2022
All session times are in Indian Standard Time (IST).