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Urban Colloquium

5th meet

Apologies for a late summary… I have been seriously considering cloning myself to be able to deal with the amount of work on my table lately but nevertheless I’ll get down to business now.

First of all, thanks to all those of you who made it to the 5th meet of the Urban Design Collective on 4th March even though it was a Sunday. That includes Prem BalasubramanianTahaer Zoyab, Tanya, Jeevanandam JeevaAjeetha Ranganathan,Roshan ToshniwalSivagami PeriannanBharath Gandhi PalanisamyMahesh Radhakrishnan and myself.

Devangi began by introducing us to the concept of the Global Studio. Global Studio is an action research program where international interdisciplinary students, academics, and professionals in the city building professions come together with local universities, local government, NGOs, and CBOs to collaborate on community-based projects with disadvantaged communities. Informed by the UN Millennium Development Goals the program promotes participatory forms of education and practice that will benefit under-served communities and facilitate bottom-up, collaborative partnerships.


The first edition of Global Studio was held in Istanbul in 2005 followed by Vancouver in 2006 and then Johannesburg in 2007, 2008 and 2009. This year after a 3 year break MANIT (Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology) hosted the sixth Global Studio between January 11th and 23rd which consisted of the conference ‘Re-imagining Inclusive Urbanization’ and hands-on participatory design studio and research projects.


She then went on to explain the 3 main projects that the Global Studio undertook in Bhopal this year- ‘Inclusive City’ which looked at integrating the heritage precinct of Bhopal with the rest of the city; ‘Kabadkhana’ which looked at improving social housing; and the revitalization of a school in the Prempura neighbourhood.

I think everyone who saw the presentation was completely blown over by the intensity of the studio as was evident from the sheer number of solutions that were produced in a span of 2 weeks! A few of the many things that the studio achieved include producing urban design/ architectural solutions to revitalize the experience of the old and the new in Bhopal, hosting a festival on the Pari Ghat as a means to engage the public in the activities of the studio, conducting an in depth study on the condition and issues that plague social housing, area clean ups, painting the walls of the school with murals that doubled up as learning tools, working with women self help groups to address their needs for economic sustenance as well as improving community living experience and also designing a school bag that doubles up as a table to write on!!! Trust me, I’m very sure I missed out many more things on that list.


I have this funny feeling that no matter how much I write I’m never going to be able to capture all of what the Global Studio aspires for and has achieved so far… So please visit http://theglobalstudio.com/ for more information.

I think I will be safe to say this on behalf of all those who attended the meet…
Devangi Ramakrishnan … thank you for making us burn with jealousy.

Over and out.

About Vidhya Mohankumar

Vidhya Mohankumar is an architect and urban designer with over a decade of work experience in India, Ireland and the United States and a passion for creating livable cities. She is the founder of Urban Design Collective (UDC), a collaborative platform for architects, urban designers and planners to create livable cities through participatory planning. Vidhya also advocates sustainable development through training and capacity building programmes for various stakeholder groups and also within academia through her association with a number of universities as guest faculty. In other parallel albeit real universes, she is a wishful artist, an avid wanderer, a constant gardener and a newly enthused cook.


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