Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA), Mumbai


Source: KRVIA

The Design Cell is the research and consultancy division of the KRVIA and was started in 1995 with an intention to connect the theoretical and research agendas of the school with the practice of architecture and development in the city. The Cell interacts with various agencies concerned with development and explores methods of understanding and intervening in the metropolis. It works with a team of architects and other consultants regarding history, economy, social geography, infrastructure and planning. The process of consultancy helps the Institute engage with the actors and agencies involved with architectural production. The Cell has created an independent research on the city and has created an archive of maps, images, and documents on various aspects of the city of Mumbai.

The Research and Design Cell has worked with many organisations in the city and has helped shape policy as well as community initiatives in the city. The government organisations it has worked with include The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA), the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA, Al India Institute of Local Self Government (AIILSG) among others. It has also worked with community based organisations and non governmental organizations like the Juhu Residents organisation, the National Fishworkers Forum, Majlis, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, India (AIILSG), among others.

The Research and Design Cell is integrated with the Academic Space in the school. It draws in faculty and students from there to conduct research and consultancy projects. The KRVIA has a faculty of over 20 full time teachers and researchers; along with a large number of visiting and guest faculties. The KRVIA has also, over the years, developed a strong network with academics, artists, activists and architects within the city. It draws on their expertise as and when required.


Though cities and urban environments have historically been the epicenter of infectious disease, most urban residents of today have never had to experience with an outbreak of the current pandemic scale. Within a short span of time, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pervasive urban and social issues in underserved neighborhoods across the Globe, highlighting disparities in access to open and green space, healthcare, pharmacies, food, and critical equipment such as masks.
“Public health and social resilience are emerging as key urban design and planning imperatives,” says Cooper Robertson’s Palta. “As cities respond to the current situation and prepare for the future, our goal is to stimulate dialogue and innovative ideas addressing important questions raised by the pandemic: What does a healthy and resilient neighborhood look like in terms of disaster preparedness as well as physical and emotional wellbeing, and how can you realize these concepts equitably in the built environment?
This course explores building a conceptual framework for urban resilience through the lens of urban form and density. It aims to explore new ideas on how planning can respond to the unpredictable new conditions that urban life may bring.

The Masters program at KRVIA has been conducting the Local Area Planning studio under the aegis of BInUCom for the last three years.

The planning domain is traditionally governed by a monolithic & top-down understanding of the master plan approach. The centralized approach has been widely criticized for not being inclusive on various accounts, viz., community aspects, heritage aspects, informality, environmental aspects, resilience & mitigation aspect. The recent endeavour (2014) of the making of a development plan endorsed the idea of a two or three-tier idea of preparing a development plan and its governance. It perhaps makes some sense, in a mega city context of Mumbai, whose diverse features in context of geography, history and community necessitate the alternate approach of their inclusion. The provision of Local Area Plan (LAP) is a bottom-up approach to be operated at the administrative ward level where making, transforming and directing development shall be collaborated at the level of local area representative.

The Local Area Plan provides excellent opportunity to carry out experiment with participation and communication-based action. It subsides the notion of master plan & drawing board approach and hinges on idea of sharing, developing and mobilizing the collective imagination of community. The studio revolved around seven sites: Sakinaka, Mulund, Oshiwara, Golibar Slums, Malvani, D.N. Nagar, Kalbadevi. The sites have different histories and issues, however all sites are largely part of TOD and are expected to have rapid transformation in next few years.

The studio is developed at three levels: Development of generic imagination and communicating to the local area resident and stake holders, Development of action areas, Development of strategies and implementation criteria.

This course will help students examine urban housing through various conceptual frameworks, and understand both historically and in the contemporary period, the various contestations over its meaning and value, its mode of production, its use and control, its form and shape, and access and inclusion. It will also touch upon the institutional sociology of urban policy making.

The pedagogic intent of the course is to employ case based learning methods to critically examine the notion of the commons and implications of the various uses of the term. In addition to understanding the historical or traditional use of the term, the essay will explore its contemporary relevance and the potential use of this concept as the basis for progressive struggles, often posed as an alternative to the neo-liberal city.

Primary intent of the course is to understand the basic principles of Geographical Systems and its areas of applications in the field of Urban Studies. The course on GIS (Geographic Information System) for students of masters in urban design and urban conservation aims to look at a specific method of making maps through designing the data structure, recording the set of information through remote sensing and retrieving the same in a desired form.

The inhabitants of informal settlements especially in the developing world face enormous challenges due to the penury of basic services.  These challenges are increasingly exacerbated by the impacts of climate change and natural hazards. The already vulnerable communities, when exposed to impacts of landslides, extreme rainfall events, sea level rise, flooding and other hazards, are subjected to even greater risks. It is imperative to understand the vulnerability of the inhabitants to climate change and develop resilience in the informal settlements.

In an urban context informal settlements are continuously evolving in their physical condition and communities evolve economically, as they get integrated into the urban economy. They are recipients of as well as contributors to the environmental stresses of the city: urban heat island effect, pollution of the commons of air, contamination and obstruction of open watercourses and subsoil contamination. And yet they also signify the human capacities for survival, adaptation and resilience in the face of such odds. The physical built environment – its materials of construction and the configurations of built and open space, the flow and cycle of energy, water and waste, with the overarching backdrop of Climate Change – seen in relation to the felt needs and human capacities of such communities provides the broad frame for pedagogic research. We should surmise that bottom-up, community-based design strategies could transform these informal settlements into sustainable communities. Indeed, this process may provide a template for low-carbon, environmentally sustainable urban systems that are affordable for a majority of citizens in developing societies. Conducting comparative analysis of liveability in various slum rehabilitation schemes provided by the government. Mainly looking at Informal settlement, PAP housing, Site and Services scheme. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of settlements using environmental meters and tools on site. The module focusses on engaging students on site to understand: 

1. Relationship of built form with and individual 

2. Impact on energy consumption on livelihood 

3. Impact of built environment on health and mortality rate 

4. Framing strategies to create building inclusive and resilient communities 

5. How to build climate responsive Architecture?