UK-India Perspectives on Planning and Architecture Education
School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering



Seminar held on 19-20th August 2010 at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi

Thursday 19th August 2010


Conference Welcome
Dr. Ranjit Mitra

Theme Introduction
Dr. Geraint Ellis

The increasing globalised context for higher education poses a range of opportunities and challenges for individual institutions and the delivery of professional education. The built environment disciplines, particularly planning and architecture have enormous potential to benefit from increased international links, which can result in increased student and staff mobility and wider educational benefits, such as curricula enrichment, enhancement of learning experiences and pedagogical innovation. Yet, despite the emergence of growing global discursive communities based on the built environment professions, the level of pedagogical debate and exchange between institutions in different cultural and geographic contexts remains disappointingly low.

The India-UK nexus is a particularly interesting one in this context; both have vastly different professional and education-focused challenges with varying resource availability, yet have the potential for robust institutional partnerships based on lasting cultural links, shared models of higher education and an ability to support learning through the medium of the English language. The presentation includes the aim and objectives of the seminar and the opportunities for research collaboration and debate.

Presentation available here (in pdf format)


Chaired: Prof. K.T. Ravindran

Architecture Education in UK
Prof. Ruth Morrow

This paper outlines the typical Architecture course format in the UK. In particular, it outlines the professional validation of Architecture courses. Validation is a peer review process that monitors compliance with internationally recognised minimum standards in architectural education and encourages excellence and diversity in student achievement.’ Validation criteria, for part 1 and part 2 of Architecture courses, include: design; technology and environment; cultural context; communication; and management practice and law. The validation process involves a visiting panel of practicing architects, academics, co-professionals and an architecture student gathering information and cross examining the course from several angles. Each panel member (trained) gives professional views and collectively a ‘conclusion’ or recommendation to the RIBA Education committee is reached and contents for a draft report is agreed. This process is intended not just to ensure minimum standards, but also to support and to share best practice. Common issues arising out of validation, include teaching of technology and environment - integration within the design process, internal quality (and equality) processes and sustainability. The paper then moves on to explore the challenges and opportunities in Architecture education, in particular:  large Increase in student numbers - not matched by staffing, numbers of new courses increased / London-centric culture, impact of research culture, cost of Architecture education to students and cost of Architecture education to Universities in an uncertain funding landscape.

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Architecture Education in India
Prof. Neelkanth Chhya

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Architecture Education in India
Prof. Ashok Lal

Plenary discussion for Theme 1
Discussants: Mr. Manit Rastogi and Mr. Snehanshu Mukherjee


Chaired by Dr. Geraint Ellis

Studio cultures in India & UK
Prof.Dr. Urmi Sengupta

This paper outlines an historical account of studio teaching. 1970s studio teaching in planning was largely abandoned as a pedagogical device in planning courses. There was a shift of focus from planning-design to planning-social science. There are a range of methodological shortcomings, including: time constraint – comprehensiveness of both design and planning courses; content – broader socio-economic issues difficult to capture in studio; and outcome – discordance in theory and methods courses and studio courses. There are two schools of thoughts with a great divide on need for studio teaching, one, emphasising visual and physical attributes in learning and two, grounded in political-economic forces.

There has also been a change in the planning system in the UK and design/planning interface. The planning system since 2004 moved from a narrow ‘land use based’ to broad ‘spatial planning. There has been a focus on mixed communities and mixed land use concept promoting sustainability (sustainability and community agenda). Increasingly, there has been an emergence of a climate change agenda, for example with an emphasis on energy efficiency and eco design. It is Important to recognise the studio as a forum for learning, not only technical skills, but also life skills. There are a range of technical and real challenges for planning studio and in particular there is a need for further research.

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Studio Culture in India
Prof. Rajat Ray

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Plenary discussion for theme 2
Discussants: Prof. Manoj Mathur, Mr. Abhimanyu Dalal, Mrs. Mitra Mitra, Prof. Ruth Morrow and Dr. Urmi Sengupta


Chaired by: Prof. Neerja Tikku

The Value and downsides of ‘Live Projects’
Prof. Ruth Morrow

Live projects have been established and advocated as an alternative to the predominant model of studio-based architectural education in the university, their origins lie in 1950s experiments in the university-based (as opposed to practice-based) delivery of architectural education. A live project is a teaching project that brings university-based students of architecture into contact with one or more aspects of the reality of architectural practice: a real client, a real outcome; and/or a real budget. Whilst much has been written descriptively about ‘live projects, ‘little has been done to intellectualise them within a pedagogical framework.

There are a range of pedagogical challenges for live projects, with the client, within academia and with practice. Firstly, pedagogical aims can, in the course of the project, be compromised by or indeed compromise the nature of the project. Trust takes time to build. Therefore it is important to discuss expectations and desired outcomes throughout the process, particularly where the client / user group is vulnerable to disappointment and to reinforce that the project is primarily pedagogical in nature. Secondly, there are a range of concerns within academia (e.g. resourcing), this requires an experienced pedagogue, to skillfully manage this in an audited environment that requires learning outcomes to be determined far in advance of the learning activity. Thirdly, there are concerns whether such projects sits within the territory of architectural practice and whether students/staff collaborations are taking work from their professional colleagues. However, there are some live projects that work in territories in which few architectural practices could sustain themselves, for example, Sergio Palleroni’s work at the University of Washington’s Building Sustainable Communities Initiative, who work with communities who traditionally have limited access to architects and architecture. In fact it could be argued that live projects that work with those who cannot access architects that it is opening up new ‘markets’ for architecture. There are alternatives, live projects that draw on the peripherals of practice not the primary focus (e.g. Street Society) as a means to teach students the skills that support both architecture and a context for architecture

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Community Engagement in Design
Mr. Arunava Das Gupta

This paper discusses the importance of architectural education being empirically grounded, context responsive and interdisciplinary. The determinants of architecture are focused on: ecology, culture, economic and technology. Architecture with a capital A is the realm of high design and theory that forms one corner of the larger world of architecture, while architecture with a lower-case a is understood in its broadest sense to encompass the entire material world or ‘cultural landscape’ that people make and think. It is important to focus on generating an empirical body of knowledge that captures and draws lessons from experiences and complexities of our kinds of societies. In particular, fostering multiple city imaginations of students and faculty as precursor to enlivened and enriched discourses on city futures. There is a need for a differentiated, multi dimensional approach towards the exploration of design possibilities as against the singular, totalitarian, problem-solving approach. In other words, broadening Prevailing Trends of exploring ‘sites’ in isolation to include dynamics of change in larger societal conditions.

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Professional Skills and Architecture practice
Mr. Anurag Chowfla

Plenary discussion for Theme 3:
Discussants: Prof. Manoj Mathur, Mr. Abhimanyu Dalal, Mrs. Mitra Mitra, Prof. Ruth Morrow and Dr. Urmi Sengupta

Friday  20th August 2010


Chair: Prof. Ranjit Mitra, Prof. Kavas Kapadia and Dr. Geraint Ellis


Session chaired by Dr. N. Sridharan

Planning Education in UK
Dr. Geraint Ellis

The first planning course was established in 1909 when the first traditions and shape of planning education were formed, lasting until the comprehensive planning system was established in 1947, when a more extensive system of planning education was required. During this time there was initially a lack of a clear disciplinary identity, with the role of the academic is primarily defined in terms of education and evangelism of the purpose and potential of planning. From 1947- to the mid-1960s with the establishment of the statutory planning system, there was a shift in scale and emphasis, with planning education expanding and increasingly dominated by the concerns of developing a professional education. From the mid-1960s to 1980s there was the emergence of the tensions between professional and more academic concerns in planning education as HE became subject to more rigorous and standardised course validation and funding criteria. This was a shift away from purely professional training to the teaching-research nexus, in essence marking the emergence of the distinct planning academy we have today. In the 1980s to late-1990s, this witnessed a period of retrenchment and pessimism within planning education, with falling student numbers and reduced funding for higher education. From the late-1990s to present-day there has been a re-establishment of the confidence of planning education and practice, epitomised by the RTPI’s New Vision (2001) and Education Commission (2003). Over most of this period there was increasing resources available to higher education, an improved funding regime for research and an increase in student numbers – all of which will come under severe pressure in the years ahead.

This paper then examines planning education in the UK in regards to current organisation and status, outlining the range of Planning schools:  ‘Practitioner-teacher’; ‘Research-led teaching’; ‘Regional Hub’; and ‘Planning Leviathan’. It then moves on to explore the context of planning education: ‘Massification’ of higher education; research performance and RAE/REF; teaching quality and league tables; future student recruitment; accreditation; internationalisation; student fees; and public spending cuts. While practitioners view the academy primarily as educators and interpret much research as inaccessible and irrelevant. There are a range of challenges, including: survival in an age of austerity and declining student numbers; staff profile, in regards to increasing recruitment of non-planners and those without practice experience (i.e. research driven); re-engagement with practice a key priority and knowledge transfer.

Presentaion available here (in pdf format)

Planning Education in India
Prof. Kavas Kapadia

Presentaion available here (in pdf format)

Use of Tools & Techniques:
UK Students’ Presentation

Presentaion available here (in pdf format)

Indian B.Planning Students’ Presentation

Presentaion available here (in pps format)

Indian M.Planning Students’ Presentation

Presentaion available here (in pps format)

Plenary discussion for discussion of student projects

Discussants: Prof. J.H. Ansari, Prof. A.G.K. Menon, Dr. Pushpa Arbindoo and Dr. Urmi Sengupta

Chaired: Dr. Geraint Ellis

Community Issues in Local Area Planning and District Planning
Prof. Dr. Abdul Razak

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Community Engagement in Environmental Issues
Prof. Dr. Meenakshi

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Community Engagement in Village Planning
Prof. Dr. N. Sridharan

Presentation available here (in pdf format)


Chaired: Prof. Kavas Kapadia

Role of Professional Bodies in Planning Education
Dr. Geraint Ellis

This paper reviews the various processes of quality control and explains the different professional bodies that have an interest in planning education in the UK. It explains the way in which the professional bodies, particularly the Royal Town Planning Institute interacts with university education, the standards that are required of universities with accredited courses and the process for gaining full professional recognition following graduation. It concludes by reviewing the benefits, challenges and tensions that arise from universities that gain professional accreditation.

Presentation available here (in pdf format)

Changing Profile of Professional practices in India
Dr. S.K. Kulshrestha

Demand and Supply of Quality Planners – Needs of the Profession
Mr. Sunil Aggarwal

Plenary discussion for Theme 6:

Discussants: Dr. Suresh Rohilla, Prof. Dr. Sanjukta Bhaduri and Prof. Dr. Neelima Risbud