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Resources.09 Beyond Development: Pune
From the Cities and Energy Series

Beyond Development: Pune

Today India is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, but the possibilities for alternative energy sources are enormous and the awareness of the consequences of climate change suggests a transition is possible. Even if the average Indian citizen is responsible for just a fraction of the CO² emissions compared with his or her American counterpart, the lifestyle choices of a rapidly growing middle class will have extreme consequences for India and for our global environment. A change in course for the soon to be most populous country in the world would set a new international agenda.

The Indian city of Pune, the cultural capital of the country’s largest state Maharashtra, has currently a population of approximately four million, but is growing faster than Mumbai, located 2,5 hours away. Just as in most of the cities in India, Pune lacks comprehensive infrasystems for energy, water supply, sewage and transport. At the same time private car ownership is increasing, as are shopping malls and segregated, so called eco-communities built with green, high-tech solutions. The dilemma of poverty, inherent in the current developing urban environments in India, stands in stark contrast to a nation in a dynamic state of economic growth – a split that is painstakingly apparent in Pune with its growing numbers of IT-centres and large percentage of slum areas.

How will Pune deal with the challenges facing India? Will there be an increase in physical and social homogenization? Or conversely, could the heterogeneity of the local and its social networks be a basis for development? The citizens of Pune are actively engaged in the changes they see taking place in their city, which begs the question: For whom is the city and who gains from its development?
pune Further course info here

The Response

Pune Matters investigated the fractal manner in which the Indian infrastructure is solved and built upon this ‘tradition’ in order to develop new infrastructural concepts that could provide alternatives to western models. Scale became an important parameter explored in the Pune scenario framework and combining elements from several scenarios became the strategy. The Indian society can be understood in terms of its simultaneity, which means that solutions are not necessarily organized spatially or temporally in a hierarchic manner, but rather can occur parallel with varying degrees of intensity, permanence and in an overlapping of their functions.

Development is perceived as a positive thing for most of us. The western concept of modernism is based on the idea that development is not merely preferred, but indeed the natural state for the human condition. The emerging Indian middle class is asking for its middle class rights, but what defines this group? A glimpse of a future scenario, now visible in any global city, is the city where the upper and middle class have escaped the public realm, organizing their needs and desires according to their economic possibilities. If development should address all classes and all castes, the public realm needs to satisfy everyone, making sure that those who can will not disappear into their private havens. The development of public space thereby becomes one of the most important future urban issues and a means to resist exponentially increasing consumption patterns. Addressing public space and creating sustainable desires for the middle class is thereby a strategy to address sustainable development in an Indian context.

This project was made possible through the generous support of SIDA.

Year Schedule here

Autumn Term 2009
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Spring Term 2010
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Download catalogue for final project:

Pune Matters, Grand Adjustments Beyond Development.

resources09-exhibitionMore exhibition images/stories/mejanarc here.

Planning India

Beyond Development: Pune
is part of the collaborative project Planning India.

Read more on the project’s website Planning India.

During 2010-2013 the courses in architecture and architectural conservation at The Royal Institute of Art have been collaborating with BNCA, a school of architecture for women in Pune, India. The aim of the collaboration has been to expand the field of and the knowledge about sustainable architecture, with focus on a local Indian context with its poentials and possibilities. A new website has now been launched with documentation from these three years. The objective of the website is to have a continued discussion about Indian and urban development. The project is supported by SIDA (Indo-Swedish Facility for Environmental Initiatives and Innovations) with The Royal Institute of Art and BNCA as financiers in a partnership cooperation.