Indo German Planning Workshop in Bhubaneswar, India

From the 19th to 23rd February 2024, an Indo-German planning workshop and expert exchange was held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha India. The workshop, co-organized by the School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP), Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Bhubaneswar and TU Berlin, brought together students and practitioners to explore the integration of Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) within Bhubaneswar’s urban mobility networks. This academic exchange provided a unique opportunity for participants to engage in cross-city learning, contrasting the urban contexts of Berlin and Bhubaneswar and co-creating innovative solutions for Bhubaneswar’s specific mobility challenges. The workshop saw participation from 8 students from TU Berlin, led by Prof. Angela Million, Dr. Ignacio Castillo Ulloa and Dr. Megha Tyagi; 20 students from KIIT University led by Prof. (Dr.) Suryendu Dasgupta, Prof. Sabyasachi Mohanty and Prof. (Dr.) Sudha Panda and practitioners from GIZ India, Studio SPAM, a local landscape architecture firm and members of the Odisha Chapter of Indian Institutes of Architects (IIA).

Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, India, boasts a rich history dating back thousands of years. Notably, the city’s current layout reflects the planning vision of German architect Otto H. Königsberger, who planned the city in 1948. In response to contemporary challenges of climate change and urban health, this Indo-German workshop investigated the potential of Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) to transform Bhubaneswar’s mobility landscape. BGI refers to a network of strategically planned natural and semi-natural elements integrated within urban environments.

Workshop Objectives
The central theme of the workshop revolved around the critical need to shift towards people-centric cities that prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users over car-centric approaches. BGI emerged as a promising solution for achieving this goal. The workshop aimed to:

  • Foster cross-city learning by contrasting the urban contexts of Berlin and Bhubaneswar.
  • Equip participants with methodologies for investigating Bhubaneswar’s specific urban mobility challenges.
  • Facilitate co-creation of innovative BGI solutions for Bhubaneswar’s mobility network.

Workshop Week
The workshop commenced with a formal welcome session at KIIT School of Architecture and Planning. Participants received an introduction to Bhubaneswar and its existing BGI initiatives. This was followed by keynote presentations and discussions with local practitioners who shed light on the challenges of implementing urban mobility projects in the Indian context. To enrich the cultural experience, a joint Gala Dinner sponsored by UltraTech Cement and excursions to nearby heritage sites were organized. The excursions included the visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Konark, featuring the ruins of the magnificent temple dedicated to the Sun God on the coast of Bay of Bengal and the heritage art village of Raghurajpur, housing the families of artists of the unique Indian painting style of Pattachitra. Participants also attended a guided heritage tour of Bhubaneswar by Ekamra Walks, a non-profit initiative by Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA). The participants acquainted themselves with the history, culture and environment of the city to develop an understanding of the urban context within which their planning workshop inquiry was positioned.

Hands-on Design Activity
The core of the workshop involved an intensive design and planning activity. The participants were divided into four groups tasked with exploring and analyzing mobility challenges in the Patia neighborhood. Their objective was to develop and integrate BGI elements into the existing mobility network, aiming to enhance safety, accessibility, and social inclusion for all user groups.

  • Site Analysis and Behavioral Mapping: Each group conducted a thorough site analysis and behavioral mapping of their designated area within Patia. This involved identifying existing potentials and shortcomings in the mobility network. The findings were discussed across three key sub-themes: safety, comfort and enjoyment as developed by Gehl Institute under their twelve urban quality criteria.
  • Concept Development and Presentations: Following the analysis, groups convened for consultation rounds to discuss their findings and brainstorm initial design concepts. Day two focused on refining these concepts into concrete proposals with graphical representations. The workshop culminated in presentations where each group showcased their proposed conceptual BGI interventions and strategies.

The Indo-German planning workshop proved to be a fruitful academic and industry exchange, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing between students and practitioners from both countries. The exploration of BGI’s potential for Bhubaneswar’s urban mobility network yielded valuable insights and innovative design proposals. The workshop served as a springboard for further research and development in this crucial domain.