Asian Urbanism + Public Space Now

Architecture + Urban Design

Spring 2013

Geeta Mehta, instructor, with Ankita Chachra

In this seminar urbanism in Asia was examined through the lens of public spaces and the public realm. While public space is important everywhere, it is more so in densely populated Asian cities, and critical in low-income neighborhoods and informal settlements there. The intensity and scale of urban growth in Asia is one of the most exciting developments in recent history, it is also resulting in erosion and privatization and loss of public spaces, and the consequences thereof.

Three cities that were the focus of the seminar: Tokyo, Shanghai and Mumbai, are among the largest in the world. The urban public realm in these cities is the most articulate expression of politics, power, money and class that at specific moments in the history have defined these cities. Asian cities like these are also the arenas where the Millennium Development Goals of poverty reduction and environmental sustainability will be either achieved or missed.

The course considered the issues and design of micro-level neighborhood public spaces as well as monumental and iconic public spaces within the broad context of Asian lifestyles and rising expectations, urban form, history, physical and socio-economic infrastructure, governance, environmental sustainability and social equity.