Research title: Building Blocks For Pandemic-Proof Living Environments
Even more than climate change, COVID-19 has put the spotlight on our living environment. In some places the impact of the pandemic on (urban) life has been compounded by the effects that mitigation measures (such as lockdowns) have had on everyday life in specific living environments. Often, government measures have not taken sufficient account of the fact that the built environment is a de facto canvas of inequality that reinforces not only an unequal experience of policies but also the general vulnerability to COVID-19. As the COVID-crisis continues to affect our lives, we urgently need to identify areas where the pandemic (and associated mitigating measures) is having the greatest negative impact. With this knowledge, and an understanding of the reasons behind it, we can move towards making spatial interventions that will contribute to making healthier cities for all.
In my research project I will analyse the reciprocal relationship between our living environment and COVID-19 in order to design concrete, evidence-based urban planning interventions making our built environment more ‘pandemic-proof’. While assessing how cities can become more resilient and adaptive, the project will foreground issues of spatial and social justice, investigating how urban dwellers’ lives and livelihoods—particularly in more vulnerable groups and communities—have been adversely affected by the pandemic, and analyse how they can be protected and improved. Drawing on the analysis of case studies in the Netherlands and India, my findings will feed into the larger discourses on health and the built environment. The focus on both the Netherlands and India will make it possible to embed the research in existing research collaborations and networks while increasing the scope of relevance of the research outcomes.
I am a doctoral candidate at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at TU Delft. My research interests lie in the intersection of urban inclusivity and resilient living environments with a special emphasis on vulnerable communities. I aim to progressively engage with urban inequalities by exploring social and urban power structures in cities.
Trained as architect, I gained international action research experience in India, Spain and Germany. This includes working closely with two Pritzker laureates -Norman Foster and Balkrishna Doshi- at their respective research foundations, as well as teaching architecture and urbanism and leading my action research practice. Most recently I was involved in developing a MOOC on Transformative Living Labs supported by UN-Habitat, MIT, TU Berlin and Wuppertal Institute.
At the Norman Foster Foundation in Madrid (Spain), I developed a pilot project for a statewide participatory urban upgradation project for slum dwellers and low-income migrants of 114 cities for the regional Government of India. The project affecting 2 million urban poor creates a participatory framework and addresses the identified gaps through spatial planning with the provision of land rights, civic amenities and basic infrastructure.
At Balkrishna Doshi's Vastu Shilpa Foundation in Ahmedabad (India), I was responsible to conduct research and dissemination activities leading to reports, studies, books and monographs. The research was linked with urban development projects, feeding the theoretical work with on-ground studies and proposals. I was also in charge of conceiving, organising and conducting annual international workshops, working on complex urban issues in Indian cities.
Through my practice, I focused on action research, actively engaging with universities and other institutional partners through workshops, conferences, public exhibitions and academia. During this time, I collaborated for international publications and research activities with Yatin Pandya as well as Anupama Kundoo.
Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):