Indian case studies website header image

Urban Landscapes Indian Case Studies

Urban Landscapes – Indian Case Studies
Architecture Programme May 2012 – March 2013

Following the programme on large scale master planning schemes at the British School at Rome, our new cycle of lectures and exhibitions Urban Landscapes – Indian Case Studies will focus instead on some of the consequences of ‘top-down’ and formal master planning to consider alternative forms of urbanism as well as ways of compensating or adjusting to some of the problems which result from the imposition of over-determined spatial visions. We shall look at what is commonly referred to as ‘informal urbanism’ and take Delhi and Mumbai as case studies.


Informal urbanism relies on the ability of communities to appropriate, recycle, inhabit, work in and celebrate within and without planned urban structures. It is seen as an alternative form of producing urban space and views the city as an organism in constant flux, determined by improvised self-organisation rather than as the product of an imposed static vision. Although it has been associated with extreme poverty, particularly when seen in the context of the rapidly expanding cities of Asia, it is an approach to urbanism that is also increasingly common in more affluent societies and in the West.


We have invited an international, multidisciplinary team of architects, urbanists, writers, art historians, anthropologists and photographers to lecture and to exhibit their work in order to investigate new lines of enquiry about these themes both at an academic and at a professional level.
Bharat Sikka, “Space In-Between”, 2003-2007, Nehru Place, New Delhi, 2003, Courtesy the artist and Nature Morte


In Transitions, the Indian art historian, Deepak Ananth, has selected three Indian photographers to consider the changing face of Delhi over the last sixty years. Images of Delhi’s desolate new towns depict an all too common global urban reality. Isolated pockets of private space are glimpsed in Dhruv Malhotra’s Sleepers and Bharat Sikka’s Space In-Between.

Saree Building Surat, India, Photo Mitul Desai


In-Between Architecture, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 2010, was the title of Studio Mumbai’s much acclaimed installation in which the practice explored the architectural spaces formed between the boundaries of existing buildings. In Praxis Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai describes how the merging of the formal and the informal city has influenced the design of his buildings. He displays photographic studies and graphite drawings that refer to Studio Mumbai’s unique working method conceived by a collective of skilled craftsmen and architects who design and build the work together.


The anthropologist Franco La Cecla lectures on Bollywood and popular culture in Indian Kiss, William Dalrymple offers a writer’s vision of Delhi in Delhi, the City of Dijnns, while, diplomat and writer, Antonio Armellini provides an analysis of Indian society in the twenty first century.


A Tazia procession where building models in paper are carried in processions through the city. Photo Adnan Goga


Rahul Mehrotra, architect and urbanist and the inspiration and support behind the programme, presents new research on The Kinetic City and concludes the series. Mumbai provides a case study to promote a discussion of the future of urban planning in general at a time when, to quote Mehrotra, the ‘Static’ and the ‘Kinetic City’ interact increasingly in spatial, political and economic terms.


We are extremely grateful to our sponsors and partners whose support has made this programme possible. Our sponsors: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the Cochemé Charitable Trust, the John S. Cohen Foundation, the Bryan Guinness Charitable Trust, and our partners: American Academy in Rome, Architectural Association, London, Domus, the Embassy of India, Rome, FotoGrafia Festival Internazionale di Roma, Keats-Shelley House, MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo.


Marina Engel
Curator Architecture Programme, The British School at Rome


Open brochure here with full details of programme

Previous events

11 May 2012

Deepak Ananth

Transitions-Three Photographers in Delhi 

Video of Lecture

Image of exhibition

Press release

Press review 


25 June 2012

William Dalrymple

Delhi – City of Djinns

Press release

Press review

Video of lecture


15 October 2012

Studio Mumbai/Bijoy Jain



Video of Lecture

Image of exhibition

Press Release

Press Reviews: Corriere della Sera, Architects’ JournalLa Repubblica, Domus, Exibart, Il Messaggero, Il Giornale dell’Architettura.

15 November 2012

Franco La Cecla

Indian Kiss

Press Release


Video of Lecture

Press Review: Exibart 


6 December 2012

Antonio Armellini

If the Elephant Flies

Video of Lecture


5 February 2013

Rahul Mehrotra

The Kinetic City 

Press Release


Video of Lecture

Image of Exhibition

Press Reviews: Exibart Il Manifesto Cultura Nazionale, Artribune, Domus, Arte e critica

Speakers taking part in the discussions include: Stefano Boeri, Achille Bonito Oliva, Pippo Ciorra, Marco Delogu, Francesco Garofalo, Joseph Grima, Margherita Guccione and Silvia Ronchey.