Name: Prathima

Bio: Prathima Manohar is the Founder of “The Urban Vision” .Prathima is an architect, critic, writer and a TV Journalist. Prathima holds a bachelors degree in Architecture. She was awarded Stanford University’s prestigious Draper Hills Fellowship bestowed to rising international stars who work on issues related to Democracy and Development in 2011. She is a Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center Fellow where she researches & studies the use of ICT for Good Governance. She has been a contributing columnist on architecture, urban development and design with India’s Leading News daily – The Times of India. She has been a contributing TV Journalist with France24 and TF1 where she did news reports and several documentaries on Indian economy, Developmental and Cultural issues. She has also written for the opinion pages of the International Herald Tribune , The Wall Street Journal and has reviewed for the Architecture Record. She has authored a monograph on the works of one of India's leading architects. She has previously consulted on urban design & urban policy related subjects with architecture and large development firms. As an urbanist, she has worked on pilot projects and researched on issues such as affordable housing, participatory planning and green cities.

Posts by Prathima Manohar:

    Making Special Places by Honoring History

    May 17th, 2016
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    Why Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive is ANTI People & not a #SmartCity Street!

    February 8th, 2016

    Video Credit : Shovan Shah

    Is Mumbai’s iconic street Anti People?

    The Marine Drive’s 2 ft Road dividers is making it hard & unsafe for people to cross! In this video you will see that in our 3 km drive we saw very limited pedestrian crossing areas . It is heart breaking to see people ( young & elderly ) climbing and jumping across high dividers into speeding cars

    According to standards by International Transport Engineers , The spacing for pedestrian crossings in intensive urban area is every 200 to 300 feet.


    Its another example of city NOT for people. This is NOT Smart City!

    Are our cities for people or for Cars??

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    Revival of Public Realm : A Strategy to transform Indian Cities

    October 24th, 2015

    Enabling Private sector to invest into urban commons to stir Livable cities. One of our public space improvement programs in Malad, Mumbai.

    Legendary Urbanist Enrique Penalosa once said “Quality of life distribution is more important than income distribution”. We must invest in infrastructure that creates better quality of life for all citizens of the city. For example, 55% of the city of Mumbai walks as their primary mode of transit. Imagine the impact on daily life of citizens if the city invested into better public spaces and walkability.

    While the master plans & vision plans are much needed .The idea that action should only be taken after all the solutions have been found is a sure recipe for paralysis. Tactics like placemaking / DIY urbanism is an important idea for such livability goals of a city. This cannot be achieved with a top down approach. We need to create frameworks so that we can realize this at the block / neighbourhood level whether in partnership with the local communities or businesses .Tactical Urbanism is a complimentary tool to a master planning process and quickly ensures liveability in your neighbourhood.

    Building a Coalition for a better city

    The space of city building & urban development is a much contested space with tense relationships between different actors like civil society, community, private sector & government. While this can be a sign of a well-functioning democracy; In India it really has reached a level which is highly unhealthy for the entire system. The placemaking approach to improving public realm is fundamentally built on a wide-ranging diverse collaboration between various stakeholders like creative groups, businesses , citizens, experts and academic groups in the city who are coming together to implement an action oriented project .

    It emphasizes the point that it is in everyone’s interest to invest into the public realm to improve a place whether one is from the private sector, government, civil society or a local citizen. From our experience , The private sector patrons understand the importance of investing into the commons.
    We have already started a movement of Privately owned Public spaces in India. Imagine the fabulous opportunities if we got the Market forces invest into what is often thought to be non-market interests in coalition with the large community – We could transform our Neighborhoods block by block.


    Above: Case study of our Placemaking Program

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    Placemaking as a winning Real-estate development Strategy:

    July 30th, 2015

    ” A Great Public Space the new Anchor tenant” : Ethan Kent , PPS, NYC

    In today’s competitive real estate market, the key factor that affects people’s real-estate choice is the quality of life & amenities of a place. The place one lives in can impact you in simple, positive ways from being able to enjoy a walk in the neighbourhood park or having access to a great school or place of culture.

    All of us have experienced places in our cities that we love and adore. What makes these places loved? These are places where people want to hang out and relax and not just walk through.

    Developments around the world are zealously attempting to create such places which are special , where people want to come to live, to work, to play and to learn. The practice of placemaking is one methods used to achieve this. The goal here is to create places which we cherish where people want to go and linger.

    Placemaking is a multi-disciplinary tactic to shape market demand and livability by enhancing the social, physical, cultural and economic qualities of a place. Placemaking can be employed to craft a special liveable places; increasing footfalls; creating a unique identity & buzz around the place as well as building community goodwill.

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    What makes a city fun ! #funcities

    July 26th, 2015

    Why do we all adore some cities?

    Because , they inspire vitality in us.

    Fun Cities have so many things to do , learn & experience. What do we need to make this happen?

    1) Special Public Spaces & parks
    2) Strong community Networks
    3) A creative & artist community that feels secure & inspired in the city.

    Fun cities will winning cities in the future! Do you have examples of fun cities ?? Tweet at @theurbanvision with #funcities

    Here are some examples.

    Opera in the square in Amsterdam #funcities

    A video posted by Prathima Manohar (@prathimamanohar) on

    Play in Voldelpark in Amsterdam. #funcities

    A video posted by Prathima Manohar (@prathimamanohar) on

    Puppet Show on the Streets in Barcelona. #funcities

    A video posted by Prathima Manohar (@prathimamanohar) on

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    Pere Buil: Barcelona’s public space focus is due to Democracy

    July 24th, 2015

    Pere Buil graduated from ETSAB (Barcelona, 2000). Founder of vora arquitectura with Toni Riba, an architectural studio located in Barcelona. Their works have been published in several international magazines. They have been awarded with, among others, A+ 2011, AJAC awards 2012, San Marco Awards 2013, and selected for Arquia/próxima 2010 and 2012, ENOR 2011, FAD Awards 2012 and Spanish Architecture Biennial 2013.
    He combines his professional work with teaching, curating and cultural activism.
    Currently teaching project design at ETSALS (URL, Barcelona). Teacher at the Taller Vertical Workshop at ESARQ (UIC, Barcelona) in 2010 and 2012. Former assistant professor at the Masters Program in BIArch (Barcelona) in 2010-11.
    Member of “aproximacions” collective, editing a quarterly fanzine on urban intervention proposals. Co-curator of “Estacions Transformadores” talks in 2008-2010 and “Sensitive Matter: Young Catalan Architects”, exhibition displayed in Lisbon, Coruña, Berlin and Barcelona between 2010-2012.

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    Bollywood Star Imran Khan says we need Livable cities!

    July 22nd, 2015

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    Barcelona Architect Alex Giménez: “Smart City is a stupid Idea! “

    July 22nd, 2015

    Bio: Alex Giménez is an Architect & Professor of Urbanism at the School of Architecture of Barcelona, Polytechnic University of Catalunya. Professor of the Master in Public Space, Elisava School, University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

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    Live: Highlights from Indian Budget 2013 for the Urban Infrastructure Sector

    February 28th, 2013

    #budget2013 #infra #Cities

    Live Highlights from the Indian budget for the urban infrastructure sector.

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    Is JNNURM about Inclusive Development?

    March 17th, 2012

    Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission is a flagship city redevelopment program that was launched by the Government of India in 2006. The Mission is the largest initiative of Government of India for planned development of Indian cities.

    Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had highlighted on the need to increase quality of life in India cities while launching the program “As we build infrastructure we must also improve the quality of living for all those who live in our cities. Our vision of urban development has so far been uni-dimensional. This must change. We have thus far focused more on space and less on people. We need to have an integrated framework, in which spatial development of cities goes hand-in-hand with improvement in the quality of living of ordinary people living there. ”. Kamal Nath , the new Union Cabinet Minister of Urban Development also recently highlighted that the JNNURM Program is focused on  improving the quality of life in our cities.

    To corroborate the government’s assertions that the program is intended to increase thequality of life for most of the people in Indian cities, I analysed the program’s investments in the transport sector that intimately affects the quality of life of ­­­the community.

    The total number of projects in the transport sector approved by the Government of India and related spending illustrates a focus on flyover & road related projects that aids car users.

    Source: JNNURM

    Source: JNNURM

    Mapping the above  investments alongside current “modes of transport” in Indian Cities shows that even though car users are a minority in Indian Cities, they are arguably the biggest beneficiaries under the JNNURM Program.

    SourceTraffic & Transportation Policies and Strategies in Urban Areas in India, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, New Delhi

    Principles of urban planning based on dense, walkable, mass transit driven development are critical in ensuring a livable & inclusive city. Experts like Urbanist Enrique Penalosa have often argued that ” In developing-world cities, most of people don’t have cars, so when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing equality. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality” .

    While I recognize that the road infrastructure is also used by Public Buses and Intermediary Public Transport ( Like Taxi’s & Rickshaw’s) ,

    I am still not comfortable with such a disproportional amount of spending on an infrastructure that will push exclusive Auto Centric Development.

    So I conclude that the Indian government’s declarations that JNNURM is aimed at increasing the quality of life for most of its people seems like a populist rhetoric given that their actual  investments show a penchant to serving elite needs.

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