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PERCEPTION & REPRESENTATIONS OF THE POOR

IN
PROCESSES OF URBAN MOBILITY IMPROVEMENTS
a. CASE description Background, basis & objectives
Urban mobility is often considered the great equalizer in terms of providing bare minimum
access to all sections of society. Freedom and improved access to mobility gives everyone,
including the urban poor, the opportunity to largely fulfil their own needs and aspirations.
However, equitable access to mobility infrastructure, though desirable, is still far from
achievable considering the diversity in forms of implementation and development models
followed. For example, the same argument for better urban mobility may give rise to a vast
pedestrian / NMT (non-motorised transit) network and at the same time a sixteen-lane super
highway cutting through the city. While there is emerging consensus about which is more
desirable from the point of view of sustainable urban mobility, the task of cross-communication
between technical experts, decision makers and the public, remains problematic. Herein lies the
criticality of the collective processes of (1) value generation, (2) agenda setting and (3) decision
making within the larger purview of public engagement.
Theories on communicative planning propose a paradigm shift and a way forward in planning
thought and practice in this regard. In communicative action values are generated through debate
and discussion. These values are then, the potential bases for agenda setting and decision making
into action. These values are far from absolute, equal or uncontested, but there might be a way to
ascertain degrees and levels of negotiated solutions, as proposed in the process of cross
acceptance. However, beyond theory, these tasks have to be (and are) carried out by individuals
and institutions with their own values, agendas and decision making power.
Within the context of a changing planning ideology and increasing popularity of urban mobility,
an analysis of past and current efforts from the point of view of the three collective processes of
public engagement will inform urban practitioners greatly towards the identification of potential
avenues for normative action in the future. Recently, achieving equal access in terms of both
affordability and pedestrian / NMT accessibility has been addressed through a number of small
and large initiatives in the NCR (National Capital Region). These include infrastructure heavy
projects such as the Delhi Metro and Bus Rapid Transit System to more socio-politically
oriented, grassroots initiatives such as Raahgiri and Aapki Sadak. Individually, each project has
benefitted the public, but has also brought up issues related to inclusiveness of different sections
of society and contestations of access to the public realm. These criticisms are also intrinsically
linked with the process of engagement followed by each.
This case is about understanding and conceptualizing class differences, perceptions of safety and
the politics of mobility at various scales of operation within the NCR. Inclusion here is not just
about activism towards a more equitable distribution of infrastructure, but about distinguishing in
what ways and at what stage exclusion happens in different cases.

Finally, in understanding this network of relationships, it is argued that values and aspirations
that are generated in Indias new neo liberal society are no longer merely state driven, but by a
set of complex forces that include film, news and print media, urban politics, NGO activism and
so on. And in this complex equation the middle class stakeholder holds significant influence if
not control on these forces, even if it is by merely being the major consumer who drives market
demand. It then seems that the urban practitioner in India is to be something of an advocative
planner, aware if not overtly pushing the concerns of the working class even as s/he negotiates
between the poor and the upper classes as well as between the state, the middle class and the
poor.
This CASE proposal is based on the argument that it is critical to be cognizant of the various
types of engagements with and representations of the poor and pro- poor concerns that
happen within the planners ambit in urban projects that attempt (or intend) to engage, be
inclusive and work for the widest social strata. This study will help to develop a more meaningful
literature on public engagement for a range of urban practitioners from the public, private and
civil society sectors.
In order to derive a comprehensive set of learnings from different scales / contexts and projects,
the following cases have been chosen:
1. Delhi BRT Project: A project conceived and designed by TRIPP, IIT Delhi resulted in the
creation of infrastructure for wider access to mobility, became controversial on account of its
prioritization of road space in favour of the bus lane, NMT and pedestrians traffic over
private vehicles. A case which became the center of significant media discourse, involving
the legal system as well as politics and is now all but disowned by the state on account of
middle class hostility towards the project.
2. Raahgiri Day: Mobilized largely by NGO activism, arguably successful in bringing together
the middle class in large numbers and popularizing the issue of NMT access and health
benefits from sustainable mobility to middle class consciousness.
3. Aap Ki Sadak: First participatory exercise of its kind in Delhi which looked at incrementally
negotiating the micro scale spatial and political dynamics through cross-communication
between, technical experts, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and a perceived middle
class dominated community.
These projects exemplify the diversity and nuance involved in the process of public engagement.
They are also demonstrative of how different scales of intervention invariably deal with different
forms of value generation, stakeholder positioning and key decision makers.

b. Questions on Conception of urban inclusion

How are values generated, priorities assigned / agenda set for action and finally who
decides on what action to take?
Where does the urban practitioner sit, who does s/he engage with and in what way?

Can the urban practitioner represent or speak for the subaltern at all- whether it is to
the state or the middle class? Or does s/he provide him/her/them merely with a platform
to speak and be heard?
c. Research Plan & Outputs

The research consists of two main focus areas:


I. Stakeholder identification, mapping and description:
(6 Months)
The research will consist of interviewing the major participants in each case (planners,
NGO activists, corporators, RWA leaders, community engagement experts) and
examining recorded archives. The focus is on how the working class community
concerns are characterized by these actors and how according to them they were
managed or accommodated.
OUTPUTS: Set of narratives, communicated simply, of the key types of perceptions as
expressed by stakeholders in each case
Comic Strip
Short Film
Descriptive Report
II.

Decision trees & key influences through the three stages of value generation, agenda
setting and decision making:
(6 Months)
In the case of the Delhi BRT, the research will consist of examining the discourse in the
print media from its initial reports to the controversy to its present status, as well as the
concerns and studies that resulted in the initiation and design of the project. The focus in
this component will also be on the representations of the non-vehicle owner, the everyday
cyclist and the working class.
In the case of Raahgiri the research will study the participation of the poor/ working class
in its events and also the representations among the organizers, key civil society
activists/participants and the traffic police of what the intentions/implications/results of
this program is.
In the case of Aap Ki Sadak, the workshop archives will be studied along with key
meetings which became critical junctures in the decision making process.
OUTPUTS: The study will culminate in a report that through the specific experience of
the above projects will catalog the representations of the poor and pro poor concerns by
1) Urban practitioner, 2) Activists and NGOs, 3) Governmental agencies, 4) major
community players and study how these representations influence the way, 1)
communities engage with each other, 2) the state engages with various communities as an
arbitrator of the public good.
Key concepts & perceptions will be communicated through creative infographics for
circulation to a wider audience with the possibility of replication in other languages.

B 6/12, DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon.122002.

+919999785221.

manasmurthy@hotmail.com

M.A in Sustainable Urbanism (September 2010 Awaiting Award)


The Princes Foundation for Building Community
University of Wales St. Trinity, UK
M.A in Urban Design (September 2008- September 2009)
I Graduated First Class with a Distinction in my Dissertation on Rob Krier using Space Syntax analysis,
Welsh School of Architecture & CPLAN, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
Bachelor of Architecture (August 2002- July 2007), Graduated First Class,
Sushant School of Art & Architecture, Delhi, India
Senior Secondary Education (2002), C.B.S.E Board, Graduated with Distinction,
The Air Force School, Delhi, India

Project Coordinator (September 2012 Ongoing)

AAPKI SADAK Project Ashok B. Lall Architects


It was a community engagement led project with detailed surveys and technical design support to arrive at
practical solutions for improving first / last mile connectivity of a typical urban precinct of Delhi, particularly
through the use of Non-Motorised Transport modes
Roles:

Initially drafted the project proposal for funding and led the project since its inception.
Coordination of consultant inputs, design coordination, community engagement workshops, government
and community presentations.

Assistant Professor (September 2014 Ongoing)


School of Planning & Architecture, Delhi
My focus areas include deliberative action, community engagement and communicative planning
Studios / Subjects:

Tutorial Studio on Local Area Planning


Reading the City - Seminar
Design Research - Studio

Assistant Professor (August 2012 Ongoing)


Sushant School of Art & Architecture, Ansal University
I specialise in sensitising my students towards issues of sustainable mobility and transport in the city, as well
as keeping them aware of the state of the art, such as TOD, UTTIPEC Guidelines, NUTP
Studios / Subjects:

Urban Design Studio


Housing Studio
Dissertation & Thesis Guide

Urban Designer (September 2011 February 2012)


John Thompson & Partners, 23-25 Great Sutton Street, London-EC1V 0DN
Projects and roles:

Chilmington Green Urban Extension: My primary role was the development of three dimensional typical

density blocks for the purpose of modeling the entire development (5700 d.u) in order to assess its
impact on the countryside and landscape context
Other roles: I helped in the preparation of business proposals and conducted site analyses for residential
and mixed use developments. I also worked extensively on three dimensional modeling for various
projects

Graduate Fellow in Sustainable Architecture & Urbanism (August 2010 - July 2011)
The Princes Foundation for Building Community, 19-22, Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3SG
Projects and roles:

Jinze Development Analysis: I was sent to Shanghai in order to analyse a mixed use development in a

nearby watertown. The scope of the project involved observation and documentation on site, the
production of a detailed report on the findings and giving recommendations for the future growth of the
project. It was also the first pilot project to test the Community Capital Framework developed by the
Foundation to analyse developments and communities.
Welsh Supply Chains Strategy: My roles included research on building materials from manufacturing and
procurement to distribution and pricing. I was also involved in organising a collaborative planning
workshop to set up steering groups and initiatives for strengthening local and regional supply chains
Bronllys Hospital: I was part of a charrette design team and production of urban design proposals which
looked at regeneration of a hospital site and town in Wales
Red Jacket Quarry: The site has been identified for the construction of prototypical timber houses in
collaboration with Zed Factory, to demonstrate the principles of sustainable urbanism. I have helped in
the preparation of architectural drawings and the planning application
Rugby Clubhouse: I have helped in the architectural design and submission of the planning application
for the rugby clubhouse at Coed Darcy, Wales, incorporating natural building materials and traditional
methods of construction

Architect & Urban Researcher (August 2007 August 2008)


Trainee (January 2007 August 2007)

Sudhir Vohra Consultants, Delhi, India


Projects and roles:

City Mapping Initiative, NDMC, Delhi: I was involved in the early stages of the project which involved the
complete GIS mapping of Zone-D for the benefit of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and its
departments.
Lutyens Bungalow Zone Redevelopment Scheme, NDMC, Delhi: The project involved extensive mapping
and revisioning of the existing LBZ for densification without adversely impacting its heritage value and
preserving its visual context.
Chakrata Road Redevelopment, Dehradun, MDDA: The project aimed at improving the desparate traffic
conditions around the historic Clock Tower area of Chakrata Road in Dehradun, via a complex system of
Land Pooling. It stands implemented today.
Objections & Suggestions to Masterplan, Delhi: Alternate Road Proposal on behalf of Westend Greens
Residents Welfare Association, for objections to Zone-J Zonal Development Plan. It involved the
development of alternate proposals and feasibility studies.

17TH Conference / International Seminar on Urban Form (ISUF)


Universitt Hamburg, Lbeck & Hamburg, Germany
Paper: Contemporary Interpretation of Traditional Urban Space A Critical Analysis of Rob Krier as a
Postmodern Phenomenon.

First International Conference of Young Urban Researchers (FICYUrb)


CIES ISCTE, Lisbon, Portugal
Paper: The Role of Community Centres in Slum Upgradation.

International Summer School 2010


The Princes Foundation for the Built Environment (with Simon Fraser University, Canada), UK

Cityscapers Cardiff Chimera 2020 (Spring 2009)


British Councils Creative Cities project in collaboration with Professor Richard Goodwins Porosity Studio
based at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in Sydney
Cardiff, Wales, UK

Invisible Cities (Summer 2008)


University of Bologna in collaboration with
The Princes Foundation for the Built Environment, UK & Italy

Member International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism (INTBAU)
An international educational charity which works to promote traditional architecture, urbanism and crafts
19-22, Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3SG

Dr. Matthew Hardy RAIA FRSA RIBA, Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Urbanism
The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment, 19-22, Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3SG
E-mail: matthew.hardy@princes-foundation.org, Phone: (0)207613 8520

Mr. Ashok B. Lall, Architect,


ABLA, 2-B, Ramkishore Road, Civil Lines, New Delhi, India
E-mail: ashokblall@gmail.com, Phone: +91- 011-23935518

THOMAS OOMMEN
thumoh@gmail.com
www.thetheoryguy.wordpress.com
www.wix.com/thumoh/portfolio

EDUCATION
Master of Urban Planning
with Certificate in Sustainable Urbanism
College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, USA
Master of Architecture
College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, USA
Bachelor of Architecture
National Institute of Technology Calicut (NITC), India

Registered Architect, Council of Architecture


Associate member, American Institute of Architects
LEED AP, USGBC

BN 15
Sreekrishna Nagar
Pongummoodu
Trivandrum -11
Kerala, India

August 2011
August 2009

2006

CA 07/4199
38034129
GBCI 10409989

WORK EXPERIENCE
Assistant Professor
R.V. College of Architecture, Bangalore, India
Principal Architect
Collaborative Urbanism, New Delhi
Assistant Professor
Architecture - Urbanism Consultant for Sushant Research Centre
Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon
Urban Designer
Marthas Vineyard Commission, Oak Bluffs, MA, USA

Aug 2014 to May 2015


Sep 2012 to Present
Jan 2012 to May 2014

June to October 2011

Graduate Assistant Research & Teaching


College of Architecture, Texas A&M, USA

August 07 to May 2011

GAR Research Assistant to Prof. Valerian Miranda,


August 09 to May 2010
Director, CRS Center for leadership in the design and construction industry
- architecture & interior design, graphic design
GAT Teaching Assistant to Prof. Sarah Deyong,
August 08 to May 09
Asst. Professor, Department of Architecture
- research and teaching for modern architecture history and theory
- taught the module on Indian Modern Architecture
GAT Teaching Assistant to Prof. Richard Davison, August 07 to May 08
Professor & Undergraduate coordinator, Department of Architecture
- taught design communication foundation
Junior Architect
January to May 07
AEC Max, Trivandrum, India
Three star hotel redesign - construction drawings, Trivandrum, India
Commercial complex - design and municipal drawings, Trivandrum, India
Intern Architect
Prof.Kulbhushan Jain,
CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India

Nov04 to April 05

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATION

The Politics of Architecture, article co-authored with Shreyasi Pal, Economics and Politics
Weekly, Vol - L No. 14, April 04, 2015, India.

The Politics of Aesthetic Intention: From Modernism to the Neo- liberal city, conference
paper presented at International conference on contextual aesthetics organized by Indian
Institute of Architects and NIT Calicut to at NIT Calicut, Kerala on 31st January 2015

Appropriating Urban Infrastructure: The case of Delhi, journal article published in December
2013, Volume 20, The Future in Critical Planning, Journal of Urban Planning published
by the University of California Los Angeles . Co-authored with Radhika Singh.

Re-reading Gurgaon, conference paper presented at Design History Society Conference,


Sept 2013 themed Towards Global Histories: Post-Colonial Perspectives in Design at
National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India

Transit Oriented Development and Neighbourhood Revitalization: The case of Third Ward,
Houston, Final Study, with Prof. Shannon Van Zandt, Prof. Eric Dumbaugh, Prof. V.
Miranda, Texas A&M

Urban Design Section, Spring 2011 and Fall 2010, in the State of the Community Report
and Comprehensive Plan for the City of Richwood, Texas done as part of Texas Target
Cities program, Texas A&M University. Awarded Honorable Mention by the American
Planning Association.

Urban Development for Affordability a look at TODs, Research, with Prof.VanZandt,


Director, Center for Housing & Urban Development, Texas A&M

Design & Transformation Redesign of the Memorial Students Center at Texas A&M using
Space Syntax, Final Study for M.Arch, with Prof.Weiling He, Prof. Sarah Deyong, Texas
A&M University

PRACTICE

New Dehradun Railway Station Urban Design and Architecture Feasibility Report as Lead
Architect with Collaborative Urbanism, for submission to Govt. of Uttarakhand and
Mussorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA)

Spatial Mapping, Madhya Pradesh Cities Development Plan as


Mapping Co-ordinator with Sushant Center for Research and Consultancy, for submission
to the UADD Department, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

Urban Design and Architecture Feasibility Report, Delhi-Meerut Rapid Rail Transport System
as Urbanist, with Sushant Center for Research and Consultancy for submission to National
Capital Region Planning Board Delhi

Sustainable Environments for Dance, research report on dance infrastructure in Delhi for
GATI dance foundation, New Delhi as Researcher. Funded by the Goethe Institute and
Ministry of Culture, India.

Urban Design Plan for Tashmoo Hill Area, Town of Tisbury as Urban Designer and Arc GIS
expert with Mark London, Director, Marthas Vineyard Commission, Oak Bluffs,
Massachusetts, USA

TEACHING

Taught the first year long architectural theory course for 3rd year B.Arch at Sushant School
of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon. This was the first architectural theory syllabus certainly
in Delhi if not in the country which defined theory as epistemological and broke the
traditional equivalence made with theory of design. This syllabus stayed in effect for 3
batches of B.Arch. students (2012,2013,2014). I taught all the three.

Formulated the theory component in the History, Theory& Criticism track for the revised
B.Arch. syllabus at Sushant School in effect from 2014.
Conceived, initiated and moderated Propositions, a weekly forum for critical discourse
between teachers (and open to students). It continues in Sushant School.
Gurgaon studio Final year B.Arch. Urban Design studio that explored old historic core
and the new cyber city of Gurgaon in parallel.
Senior level(3rd year) architecture design studio units dealing with housing and mixed use
urban inserts at various sites in Delhi and Gurgaon at Sushant School.

B.Arch. Final Thesis guide


Rethinking Delhis red light district
Urban Gathering Space Transit Interchange at Anand Vihar, Delhi
Mumbais Dance Bars- Rebirth of a typology
21st century governance: New Secretariat for Delhi

B.Arch. Final Dissertation guide:


Appropriation of Urban Infrastructure: The Case of Delhi
The idea of harmony in tall building design
Towards a Photography of Architecture: Critical theory and architectural
photography
Performative Democracy: Space and Elections in the National Capital
Genealogies of the Delhi Master plan

B.Arch. 2013 Dissertation Committee Member, Sushant School of Art and Architecture.
The Negotiated City: Shivajinagar, 2014, Final year Urban Design Studio at R.V College
of Architecture, Bangalore.
Contemporary Architecture and Urban theory, 2014, core theory course for M.Arch
program in Urban Design, R.V. College of Architecture.
Contemporary Architecture, 2015, theory course for semester 6, B.Arch. program, R.V.
College of Architecture, Bangalore (ongoing).
Institutions, 2015, Architectural Design Studio Unit master, for semester 6, B.Arch.
program, R.V. College of Architecture, Bangalore (ongoing).

WORKSHOPS & LECTURES

Fundamentals of Urban Design, 2 day workshop conducted at Department of


Architecture, College of Engineering Trivandrum, University of Kerala.
Urban Design Studio 2012 and 2013, advisor and mid semester jury member,
Department of Architecture, College of Engineering Trivandrum, University of Kerala.
The House in Modern Architecture, July 2014, lecture for 2nd year B.Arch studio, College
of Architecture Trivandrum, Kerala.
Moderator/Interviewer for In conversation with Ar: Peter Rich , August 2014, a public
event held at College of Engineering Trivandrum, University of Kerala.
What Theory is, September 2014, lecture at Srinivasa College of Architecture,
Mangalore, Karnataka.

Invited panellist for public round table discussion on 50 years of modern architecture in
Kerala by Indian Institute of Architects Kerala Chapter in Calicut, Kerala in December
2014.
Invited panellist for public round table discussion on design pedagogy for International
conference on reinventing design pedagogy and contextual aesthetics, January 31st,
2015 held by Indian Institute of Architects Kerala Chapter and NIT Calicut.
Walk Leader, Modern Architectural Heritage Walk, conducted once every week from
November 2014 to March 2015 in Trivandrum, Kerala, as part of public outreach and
awareness by Indian Institute of Architects Kerala Chapter.

REFERENCES

Prof. Jagan Shah


Director
National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi
jaganshah@gmail.com

Prof. Valerian Miranda


v-miranda@tamu.edu
Professor of Architecture & Director,
CRS Center for Leadership, Management & Innovation in the
Design & Construction Industries,
College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, USA

Prof. Eric Dumbaugh


edumbaug@fau.edu

Associate Professor and Director,


School of Urban & Regional Planning
Florida Atlantic University, USA

Prof. Shannon Van Zandt


svanzandt@tamu.edu
Associate Professor,
Master of Urban Planning program coordinator,
Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning
College of Architecture,
Texas A&M University, USA