The Global Agenda Council is getting local experts to formulate a ‘reciprocal design index', for inclusive urban environments.

How many times have we heard of high land prices in cities making the middle-income, low-income and the economically-weaker sections head out to the far peripheries of cities? How much more will roads be widened for the benefit of vehicles, at the cost of pavement space?

How many times have residents felt exasperation as one utility or another digs up roads? Ever asked yourself why this should be so? These are some of the questions asked by Ms Sheila Sriprakash, Chief Architect and Founder of Chennai-based Shilpa Architects Planners Designers.

Certainly, multiple non-government organisations and citizens' forums have been taking efforts to help the citizens. One such initiative, is by the WEF, the four-decade-old, independent international organisation that aims to make a change for the better by involving business, political and academic leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

This it does through Global Agenda Councils, one of which hopes to evolve benchmarks for what should be an ideal city. After green buildings, green townships and green cities, which primarily address the environmental issues, industry leaders are taking a serious look at design processes that cover sustainable socio-economic issues that should go into the making of cities and townships.

GLOBAL COUNCIL

Ms Sriprakash, who is on the 16-member Global Agenda Council on design innovation for 2011-12, hopes to develop what she describes as the Reciprocal Design Index for urban centres. The goal of the index will be to enable sustainable planning — looking at issues beyond the environment — including social issues. The architecture of a city should look at society and economics.

The ‘reciprocal' component of a viable city will be the concept of give-and-take. The construction of a large house could subsidise that of a small one in a town. Imagine a town filled with luxury houses — where do the services come from?

A society should provide space for all segments, not just the economically-diverse sections, but also the young and old. The index will serve as a basis to design cities that will look at sustainable socio-economic features — features beyond the environment concerns addressed in green towns and cities.

Briefing media persons on the index, she said it will help coordinate stakeholders, including those relating to environment, the policymakers, and the residents, to develop ideal design solutions.

The index will cover a range of parameters that will address inclusive growth, job generation, sustainable consumption and benchmarking progress.

DESIGN INDEX

Ms Sriprakash, who has been nominated by the German Government, Leibnitz University, Hannover and University of Valencia, Spain, as one among seven women architects of reputable influence from across the globe, will use her expertise in designing to implement the ‘reciprocal design index', a tool that will help create more livable cities.

The other members on the team include Adam Bly, Founder and CEO, Seed Media Group, a US-based diversified media, technology, and professional services company, and Mr Kohei Nishiyama, Founder and Chairman, CUUSOO System of Japan, an online user community that collects and matches ideas between people and the manufacturers that help to make them come true.

According to information on the Net, more than 130,000 users, 3,000 designers and 500 manufacturers are participating on this platform. CUUSOO is used in universities as part of the curriculum, and more than a thousand students have benefited from this entrepreneurial educational experience. Ms Sriprakash hopes to implement components of the index that they are to develop in a 20-acre project that she is promoting to the South of Chennai, as a showcase and to serve as a precedent for the model.

(This article was published on October 22, 2011)
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