• Urban Architecture: Exploring Diverse Design Philosophies and Practices


    IIDA Summit featured a panel discussing the urban architecture exploring diverse design philosophies and practices of prominent architects. Moderated by Rudraksharan, co-founder of 42mm Architecture, the panel included Amin Nair from Ana Design Studio, Ravi Sharma from Adani International Airport, and Swapnil Patil from SPAP. Each panelist brought unique perspectives on urban architecture, highlighting their diverse approaches and successful projects.

    The State of Urban Spaces: Present and Future

    As urban populations swell, the pressure on public buildings and spaces intensifies. The panelists highlighted the multifaceted impact of urbanization, spanning from micro to macro levels. This impact prompts us to question: Where are our urban spaces headed? What current deficiencies need addressing to pave the way for more sustainable and livable cities by 2040?

    Key issues such as the scarcity of open spaces and the ubiquitous presence of vehicles dominated the discussion. The challenge lies not just in managing these elements but in fundamentally rethinking the urban design to better accommodate human and environmental needs.

    Sustainability and Urban Transformation

    A recurrent theme was the inclination towards sustainability. Can our urban spaces evolve to prioritize ecological balance? One panelist emphasized the need for integrating natural elements like water and greenery into urban planning. This integration not only enhances aesthetic appeal but also contributes to environmental health and human well-being.

    The discussion also touched on the potential of moving away from petrochemical-fueled vehicles towards greener alternatives. However, the transition requires more than just technological innovation; it demands a cultural shift in how we perceive and use urban spaces.

    The Role of Public Policy and Community Engagement

    Urban planning cannot be isolated from public policy and community involvement. The panelists argued for a more inclusive approach where diverse voices contribute to shaping the urban landscape. This democratic engagement ensures that urban planning reflects the needs and aspirations of the community.

    For instance, a successful public transportation system hinges on its ability to provide a reliable and comfortable alternative to private cars. This requires thoughtful planning and substantial investment, underpinned by public support and usage.

    Iconic vs. Background Architecture

    The conversation also delved into the debate between iconic and background architecture. While iconic buildings can put a city on the global map, they often overshadow the more mundane yet crucial background buildings that form the urban fabric. A balanced approach that celebrates both iconic and everyday architecture is essential for creating cohesive and vibrant urban environments.

    The Case of Dubai and Delhi

    Dubai’s skyline, characterized by its iconic buildings, serves as a poster child for what happens when every structure seeks to be a landmark. This results in a disjointed urban fabric lacking a unified character. Conversely, cities like Delhi, with their blend of historic and modern elements, offer lessons in integrating diverse architectural styles within a cohesive urban plan.

    Embracing Technology and Hybrid Spaces

    Looking ahead to 2040, the role of technology in shaping public spaces cannot be overstated. The panelists highlighted the emergence of hybrid spaces, where technology facilitates new forms of interaction and engagement. For example, China’s development of hybrid public spaces demonstrates how technology can enhance urban living by creating flexible environments that cater to various needs.


    As we navigate towards 2040, the future of urban fabric depends on our ability to integrate sustainability, inclusivity, and technological innovation into urban planning. The insights from this panel discussion remind us that the journey towards better urban spaces is a collective effort, requiring collaboration across disciplines and communities. By embracing these principles, we can hope to create cities that are not only functional and beautiful but also resilient and equitable.

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