How people and the pandemic are redefining cities

Delhi is currently undergoing its master plan, but we think plans don’t make cities.

Published: 31st August 2021 07:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2021 07:20 AM   |  A+A-

New enclaves of gated communities as in Gurgaon, indicating exclusivity, but also trust and relationships.

New enclaves of gated communities as in Gurgaon, indicating exclusivity, but also trust and relationships.

Express News Service

Delhi is currently undergoing its master plan, but we think plans don’t make cities. In fact, plans are produced from the politics of cities. This understanding comes from an orientation that cities are made not of infrastructure, but of small forces like people’s obsession, friendship, compassion and other things that city planning cannot take into account,” says Prasad Shetty, Urbanist and Co-founder, School of Environment and Architecture, Mumbai. Shetty will hold a three-day online intensive workshop, starting September 2, with Co-Founder Rupali Gupte titled Small Forces, in association with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA).

“One of our contentions is that we have seen cities being observed through limited frames. We make maps and cartographies of statistics, which often lead to hard infrastructures and rigid institutions. But we argue that cities are made with small forces — people and their practices,” notes Gupte.This three-day workshop is based in Gupte’s and Shetty’s field work experiences. It will discuss cities as composites of small forces of energetic selves, which could mean collecting strange objects, behaving like spies, writing stories, achieving mundane targets, opposing new ideas, making antennae to listen to strange sound waves, counting every tree, tracking obscure data, etc. 

A total of 60 people have already registered for the workshop that will last three hours each day, including a one-hour talk session with the participants. The workshop will have historians, architects, artists, and planners, but it’s open for all. “Students and interested candidates can understand the cities and technicalities involved in their making and use it in whatever profession they are in. If they are in engineering, they will figure out ways to humanise it; if in medicine, they will be able to socialise the idea of medicine,” explains Shetty.

At the workshop, the duo will talk about their field work across India, read poems and research literature from cities, and give technical understanding of cities on how plans are made, and showcase photographs clicked by them. “The sessions may also initiate discussions on how cities are becoming older, how do we think of infrastructure of old age; people are becoming isolated, how can we think of infrastructures that are built from friendship. During the pandemic, people have been adopting cats, and dogs, that’s a sign of loneliness. So, we can think of how we can deal with loneliness,” feels Gupte.

The two observed that in the pandemic, people saw the faultiness in the way infrastructures were made. “But, smaller portions like mutual aid societies, kept people going,” shares Shetty. About how Covid will impact the way buildings are created, he says, “Covid has given people a tremendous confidence in living with the online media. This has serious implications on education, and how offices will run. These are cheaper and logistically efficient ways. We will require different kinds of houses and not offices because the office time will decrease. Most urban areas have small houses, and four people working online cannot live in the same space. The idea of the house and neighbourhood will change apart from many other things.”ON: September 2-4; 4pm-7pm AT:


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