GSEN BRIEF 2020-21

Cities in India have seen unprecedented development in the last 10 years and a large influx of people from rural areas. The ecological infrastructure and environment in most cities are stressed or already severely damaged. To be specific, large areas of farmlands have been replaced, significant areas of forests cleared, pollution levels in cities have risen, and rivers and lakes are drying or are heavily polluted. Further, the needs and lifestyles of our growing society put huge stress on environmental systems and natural cycles. These challenges compounded with climate change are an urgent one. 

Moreover, the concern over food security and interest in healthier diets, local food is already driving the transformation at a local level. Urban revitalization projects around the world are rewriting new rules to develop resilient landscapes to integrate food and beyond. 

Thus, the competition invites you to conceive and generate innovative ideas of productive public realm centred around the themes of improved agricultural productivity, enhancement of biodiversity, and ecologically sensitive urban designs in the grain of the city. The competition further questions our penchant for crisp, ornamental, and high maintenance landscape as an ideal leisure ground for a public space. The challenge will be on how carefully can we integrate food into the design of public space so that we accept this utilitarian landscape as a part of everyday landscape. 

The competition looks for radical and innovative ways food and productive landscapes can be integrated into the public realm of city fabric.  


This competition is a two-way journey to reimagine solutions as they can possibly be. The first one will take us backwards towards the roots of the issues we’re trying to address in a bid to understand what the original intent was and the second one travels from those insights in the opposite direction towards now, building upon that understanding, a design solution that has remained true to its intent and not having succumbed to various other powerful seductive forces along the way. 

Why thinking about food is important : 

Loss/degradation of farmlands – As per UN, 40.76% of India’s population is expected to reside in urban areas by 2030. We have to acknowledge the fact that the growth of these cities comes at the expense of disappearing prime agricultural land. As agricultural farmlands are taken over by ever expanding cities, farmers are forced to grow on marginalized, less fertile land and have to rely on fertilizer for increasing yield. This over dependency on artificial fertilizer leads to further land degradation, lowering the yield even more. This cyclical problem often forces the farmers to migrate to cities for better opportunity. UN says India needs to restore at least 30 million hectares in the next 10 years to reverse land degradation by 2030. Hence, as designers of built environment, it is very important to start thinking about edible landscapes stitched into the city fabric.

Detached food system :

The global pandemic has exposed our immense reliance on just-in-time logistics and remote food supplies with disrupted long supply chains. Since these complex long chains are susceptible to shocks, in a post-pandemic world, can we design a resilient food system, where we can rely on a local productive system? This is not only to be seen in relation to food but as a means of building resilience – preparing for future predictable shocks, whereby ecological and productive landscape would ameliorate the effect.

Food beyond human:

With loss of bio-diversity, cities are increasingly becoming monocultures of human dominated spaces. Further, our love for manicured landscapes as leisure grounds, is creating an urban desert. By integrating a biodiverse landscape system, we can design a public realm that caters to the food demand of other urban fauna, hence restoring the urban biodiversity.


To demonstrate the idea of food and productivity: 

Teams can choose a real or hypothetical neighbourhood in a city. This chosen or imagined site should be small (upto 1-2 sq km), medium density, and very much within the city limit. For hypothetical designs, selected neighbourhood should not be imagined on a new greenfield site (so it should already have a grain of built and open). The chosen area, type, and the mix of land uses in the chosen site is not very critical as long as you are able to represent and show ways in which the concept of productivity can be integrated in the real or imagined neighbourhood. 

Each team could work on a particular theme or more and develop ideas into a real spatial design solution. The themes such as increasing biodiversity, backyard food growing systems, edible food park, productive street corridor, urban agro-forest, vertical farming, innovative models of food processing and distribution etc. can be visualised and communicated through urban and architectural drawings. 

The competition is interested in how to materialise concepts into implementable strategies over time and will emphasize again on visualisation of the project to communicate.




Prize money of Two lakh Rupees is allotted to the trophy and it will be divided according to the number of the Citations and Special Mentions.



Failing to comply with any of the guidelines may lead to disqualification at the discretion of the executive council. 


Failing to comply with any of the guidelines may lead to disqualification at the discretion of the executive council.


  1. Online Submission
  2. Original Copy of Authentication Letter
  3. Original Copy of Declaration Letter
  4. Editable Format of the Sheets (Applicable if shortlisted)


Moderator and Authors

The Moderator for GSEN Trophy for 2020-21 is Mansi Shah (Adjunct Professor, Urban Design, CEPT University) and the brief is co-authored with Chandrani Chakrabarti (Program Coordinator, Landscape Architecture, CEPT University).

Any form of communication from the participants to the Moderator/Authors/Jurors will lead to disqualification. 

Annexure 1: References