About Productive Urbanism
This website serves as a digital platform for showcasing exceptional works that emerge from studios and courses led by Mansi Shah or co-taught at CEPT University. They are centred on themes of landscape design and public space design. As such, all the design and research is rooted in a deep concern for the impact of urbanization on the environment, the changing food landscapes and their effects, and biodiversity loss. The emphasis is on finding spatial, policy, or design solutions to mitigate these challenges.
The teaching is also linked to a broader idea of advancing research for Urban Indian Cities through the Productive Urbanism Collective (PUC), established by Mansi Shah in Nov 2022. Some studios were taught and developed prior to the establishment of PUC, but they are rooted in the same concerns.
The website features five studios in total (three at Level 3 and two at Level 2) and also includes collaborations with NASA, India and research projects undertaken by students as part of the Directed Research Program (DRP) or in the courses Food and the City and Narrative Cartographies. It aims bring forth remarkable projects that can inspire learning, disseminate new ideas, and publish well-grounded work by students in the domains of urban and landscape design, food urbanism, cartography, and mapping. It is a space meant to share the outcomes, join or collaborate with external partners for teaching and funding. It hopes also to foster a community of practice that encourages critical thinking and innovative solutions particularly for Indian cities.
About Mansi Shah
Mansi Shah is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Planning at CEPT University, where she teaches in the Bachelor of Urban Design program. Her areas of interest encompass landscape design, ecology, food urbanism, and mapping. She has organised several studios related to these subjects, such as “Eco Warriors [Edible to Productive Urbanism]” and “Rebel Bodies Rebel Cities.”
She has a keen interest in pedagogy and research. She has carried out several publications, workshops (‘Common Voids, 2016’, ‘Sustainable Living Practicum: Rainforest farming edition 2015’), and exhibitions (‘Chowk Networks 2016- Ahmedabad’, ‘Feral City 2015- NID’, ‘Japan Foundation-Delhi’, ‘Yokohama Civic Art Gallery- Japan’, Prathaa 2012, Cept University, Beyond Green 2010- Salone del Mobile) to explore innovative ways to support her research and learning for students.
With teaching, she works on her independent research projects on different subjects under ‘Productive Urbanism Collective’ (a research collaborative focused on urban landscapes as productive and performative spaces), ‘Ahmedabad Mapping Project’ (an initiative to gather information about the city and represent it through maps and cartography), ‘City Water Walks’ (a project to understand how the urban commons function and how are they are affected by constant changes in governance and development) and ‘Pocket-garden’.
Her recent book is ‘Rebel Bodies Rebel Cities’ co-authored with Victor Cano-Ciborro, published by CEPT University Press in 2022. It is a teaching and research project that examines the complexities of urban public spaces and the importance of acknowledging competing stakeholder interests to create more inclusive and equitable environments. She has also co-authored the book ‘Prathaa: Kath-khuni Architecture of Himachal Pradesh’ as a senior researcher at Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre, DICRC. The research project was also recognised by the International Zumtobel Group Awards 2012 in Research and Special Initiatives category with honourable mention.
In development of studios several tutors have collaborated and have been a part of developing pedagogy. Mainly pedagogy of unit Eco- warriors was co-developed with Chandrani Chakrabarti and pedagogy of RBRC was developed with Victor Cano-Ciborro, in line with his area of research and RBRC pedagogy was repeated in Unit Occupied.
Chandrani Chakrabarti is a landscape architect with over ten years of professional consulting experience in landscape architecture and urban design. Chandrani’s teaching and research interests include landscape ecology, productive landscapes, and landscape urbanism. She has been associated with CEPT University since 2018, and currently serves as Program Coordinator, Master of Landscape Architecture and teaches in both the Faculty of Architecture and Planning.
As an academician, she is interested in the evolving theories of environmental practices and its application in urban areas. She is also actively involved with the Indian Society of Landscape Architects (ISOLA) education board to develop landscape education and research in India.
Previously, Chandrani worked as a Senior Associate at Jerde Partnership Inc. in Los Angeles. There, she led more than 50 commercial mixed use development projects primarily in the US, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. She has continued her collaboration as a senior landscape consultant to Jerde Partnership. Chandrani has a Master in Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) degree from Jadavpur University.
Víctor Cano Ciborro is an architect, master, and PhD in Advanced Architectural Design by ETSAM – Polytechnic University of Madrid, with a dissertation entitled “Narrative cartographies: Architectures from the sensitive regime of resistance”. He has been involved in different universities as a teacher and researcher in the last decade: Teaching Assistant at ETSAM-Madrid (2012-2015), Tutor at the Architectural Association- London (Summer School 2015), Teaching and Research Fellow at CEPT University-India (2018), and afterwards, Visiting Faculty (2020-2022), Visiting Researcher at UC Berkeley-USA (2019), and external researcher and Master’s tutor at Universidad de las Américas in Quito-Ecuador (2018-2022). Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at The New School, New York-USA. His Undergraduate Thesis was awarded the 12th Spanish Biennial, and his Master Thesis won the Special Award at the 12th National Competition Arquímedes 2013 for young researchers.
His line of research, focused on cartographying conflicts and resistances through the subaltern bodies that construct it, has been published in journals such as ARQ, MONU, Horizonte, [i2], LOBBY, RA or ZARCH, lectured across Europe (Slovenia, Kosovo, Italy, UK, Ukraine, Spain) and America (Chile, Ecuador, Peru, USA), and exhibited in international events including the Venice Biennial Architecture 2016 and 2018 (Spanish Pavilion), the 20th Chile Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism 2017, or Future Architecture Platform 2017. Victor has also worked at ‘Gazapo & Lapayese’, ‘z4z4’ or ‘Andrés Jaque/ Office for Political Innovation’, and is currently a freelance architect. He was co-founder and editor of ‘Displacements: an x’scape Journal’, and co-founder of the research collective ‘Arquitectura Subalterna’.
These 15 years of farming and living in a village has given me first-hand experience of what it means to be a farmer, a single-woman farmer. I feel very passionately about farmers issues, especially, women farmers and their identity as a farmer. In the last few years, I have been working with women farmers and NGOs associated with women farmers for the same.
The focus of my work is two pronged – I support rural communities to shift their practices to be more sustainable, support them with their needs through the transition period and networks required to market their produce. On the other hand I create awareness amongst urban communities about the important role farmers play in their life and sensitise them to the issues farmers face and help build a community that understands and supports each other. My understanding of both spectrums, helps me bridge the urban and the rural gap.
All my work is garnered towards supporting people and communities to take control of their food system and to support them understand the agrarian crisis and issues of food justice and food sovereignty. To create awareness about these issues through workshops and seminars, school programs, academics or NGO activities.
Currently, I am working with women farmers to help them transition to sustainable farming models. These farmers are directly connected to the consumers through various platforms set up, and by building a relationship between the farmers and community.