Concept Note for the Conference
Architects and the Smart Cities Mission
The Smart Cities Mission launched by the Govt. of India in anticipation of a massive growth in India’s urban population over the next few decades. Our Cities and the government initiatives have not been ready for this scale of Urban development, that is evident from the failure of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) of 2008 in arresting the downward spiral of the quality of urban life.
Urban areas are growing rampantly but the civilizational premium of urbanism is still a distant dream.
As per current infrastructure paradigms we need huge investments in the urban development process to reach global standards. As listed in the much-quoted McKinsey Report of 2006, 900 million sqm. of new buildings, 25000 km of urban roads and 400 km of Metro rail lines need to be built every year to meet the expected target in 2031.
China, our closest parallel in terms of population and development has been there and done exactly that at an enormous social and ecological price. In hindsight, it seems that there has to be a better way.
We need to be smarter in identifying our needs and ways of achieving them with strategic interventions that yield most effective results, sustainable over the long term. Through this initiative, the GoI seeks to promote cities that:
– provide core infrastructure to give citizens a decent quality of life in a clean and sustainable environment, and
– employ smart solutions to enable the efficient operation of core infrastructure.
Architects’ role in the Mission
The quick initial response by IT companies has successfully portrayed them as the sole competent solutions providers for future cities. It has been presumed that Smart Solutions will shape not only the City’s development policy but also the physical structure into which habitable buildings and other physical apparatus will be inserted.
Curiously, Architects, who will actually design these buildings and infrastructure, have not been considered in the initial documents created by the GoI.
An inexcusable lack of advocacy by our profession has scripted us out of this most monumental public endeavor in the history of free India. There is an urgency to initiate corrective action.
The Northern Chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects recognizes this gap and it intends to have detailed deliberations to finalize the Architects Role in building of Smart Cities and to take a lead role in advocating the essential role of the Architectural fraternity in making “real” the GoI’s dream of creating Smart Cities.
The Northern Chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects in partnership with IIA Haryana Chapter, IIA Punjab Chandigarh Chapter seeks to
– explore our envisaged role in the extended ambit of the Smart City Mission.
– demonstrate practically, through design and research, the flaws of purely numerical outcomes juxtaposed with the advantages of better architectural alternatives having efficient space utilization, material endurance and sensual aesthetics, the missing ingredient.
– create a platform that will canvass to the GoI, the role of the architect as critical to the concept of sustainable cities.
– bench-mark requisite competencies needed for the task and initiate curricular reforms in schools of Architecture and also re-skilling of in-practice professionals.
– highlight significant lessons to be learnt about marketing our services and improving their quality for greater public appreciation.
The Sessions Details
Session 01 : Smart Cities – Introduction to SCM, the GoI’s Interpretation
Our Government is pursuing the SCM with no definite definition of Smart Cities. Without an adequate definition, we risk repeating JnNURM. The Government & Empanelled consultants have been unable to segregate the Amrut, HAF & Hriday objectives from SCM Objectives. In this session deliberations are planned on GoI’s interpretation, the proposed funding, role of ULB and its mayors, & citizen inclusiveness.
Session 02 : Smart City Mission – An Architect’s Interpretation
To identify architect’s role, deliberations are needed to create an Architect’s definition of smart city.
Session 03 : Smart City Mission – Architect’s Historical Role
Deliberations are planned to put forth the historic facts about the role architect’s have played in planning modern functional cities like Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar or the historic cities in Pre Independent India.
Session 04 : Smart City Mission – Integrating Academic Research
Due to limited industrial research capabilities, the research is one of the most important factor missing in this and previous SCM. Deliberations are planned to integrate and demonstrate practically, that through design and academic research, the missing ingredient (India specific solution) in SCM can be found. Deliberations are also planned to bench-mark requisite competencies needed to initiate curricular reforms in schools of Architecture and for re-skilling of in-practice professionals.
Session 05 : Smart City Mission – Architect’s Role
Since development is a state subject in our constitution, the lessons learnt from previous urban renewal missions indicate that ULB did not have the capacity to absorb funds. So deliberations are planned to explore ideas to create a platform, that would advocate to the State Governments & ULB on the role of the architect to support their mission of delivering the Smart Cities.