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:

    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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    My big idea for cities in 2012: Transforming visions into reality…

    January 6th, 2012

    Queen's Necklace when the jewels aren't shining
    Creative Commons License photo credit: SaGaR PuRo

    At The Urban Vision, We recognize that cities are at the heart of some of the most pressing problems the world faces today – whether it is climate change or poverty. We believe that they are also at the heart of the solution to these pressing problems. We like to focus on showcasing ideas that can turn cities into an opportunity.

    However, I recognise that to transform these visions into reality is not easy.

    I recognize that the answer towards solving a lot of the world ‘s biggest problems whether poverty or climate change is not so much about design or ideas as much as it’s about leadership. The leadership that is desperately needed to generate transformative change is absent at this point in time.

    To transform our visions into reality we need to do multiple things. But I believe empowering the citizens and the community is key. As the saying goes “The most important political office is that of the citizen”. It is ‘us’ who have to contribute to build a better community that we dream of.

    One disruptive / change driver idea that could really augment citizen participation in planning is technology. We know how  social media like Facebook / Twitter allows us  to Connect / Collaborate and organize ourselves as a community. We have all been activists on facebook at some point or another. So it is that time we put these Web 2.0  tools to use towards a good cause.

    Patrick Geddes who is widely acknowledged as the father of modern urban planning acknowledged the importance of civic engagement. His “Outlook Tower” in Edinburgh, Scotland, which can be best described as “city observatory”, “museum” or a “civic laboratory,” demonstrates how citizen engagement was at the heart of city planning process.

    My big idea for this year is technology tools that create opportunities for a one-on-one and conversational relationship between policy makers / public leaders and the citizens. I am interested in “Web 2.0” tools and the opportunity it presents to enable communication and collaboration in the civic space.

    I have been curating a Video Journal called to document some ideas in this space.

    * “Web 2.0” can be described as technologies like  wikis, podcasting, blogging, social networking sites which is an inventive way to connect the collective intelligence of  diverse set of communities and experts.

    What is your one big idea for cities in 2012? Submit a blog post to along with a bio & Pic.

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    Human Capital, Cities , Economic Growth

    December 7th, 2011

    I am re-posting this Interview I did with Soumitra Dutta for another publication.We must pay attention to some of his views.

    Bio: Soumitra Dutta is the Roland Berger Chaired Professor of Business and Technology and the founder and academic director of elab, INSEAD’s center of excellence in teaching and research in the digital economy ( Previously he has been Dean of Executive Education (2002-2006) and Dean of External Relations (2006-2009) at INSEAD.Prior to joining the faculty of INSEAD in 1989, he was employed with Schlumberger in Japan and General Electric in the USA. Professor Dutta obtained his Ph.D. in computer science and his M.Sc. in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a visiting Professor at several international universities including the University of California at Berkeley, Oxford and Cambridge.
    He is actively involved in policy development in Europe. He is currently a member of the Advisory Committee for ICT for the Government of Qatar and has advised other national governments on ICT policy issues. He is the Chairman of the European Commission’s Europe Innova panel on Innovation in the ICT sector and a member of the Steering Committee of eBSN, the European Commission’s eBusiness Network initiative for SMEs.

    How important is human capital in today’s world?

    We live in a world of great ideas. In India where the large part of economy is service based, the value of ideas becomes especially important. Also, the notion of interactions becomes very important .The whole definition of the service is tar you have to interact with the producer of the service.

    It’s also very important in the service economy that human capital is invested in, is skilled properly and has a right kind of an attitude. So, what I am trying to say is that you want people who are collectively more competent, who are more globally aware and globally sensitive.

    What can cities do to attract the best human capital?

    At a very simple level, cities need to be places that make people feel at home. And not just people of the same country but people around the world. What makes you feel at home is a number of different things. It could be about hard infrastructure of having good quality roads or clean sanitation. Culture also plays an important role. How people behave, how people react, whether other people like you, whether there is diversity – these all are very important issues. New York and London make more people feel at home. And not too many cities in the world have that ability, even if they are rich. If you look many cities in Europe, they are very rich, very clean with well built infrastructure; but in a cultural point of view, they don’t make people feel at home. There is also the soft infrastructure of the city like engaging public spaces – squares, waterfronts etc and places of culture like theatre and museums which are important.

    How do you think the global cities in the world became successful?

    If you look at it, there are not too many global cities; there are very few global cities. There is New York, London or Singapore. These cities are successfully attracting diversity which is very important. If you go to a city in Germany, if you are the only Indian, if you don’t find other foreigners you will not feel very comfortable.

    Global cities also highlight the importance of education. People come to places where they can invest in themselves. So you want to have the feeling that, if you go to a place, you will not stagnate, so you want to keep on learning. For example, look at London, with Oxford and Cambridge around it.

    Learning is of course not just in universities, but also with the good people. So if you are an architect, you want to have other world famous architects to be close to you. If you are journalist, you would like other journalists to be working close to you, because, you also learn from each People want to be challenged. They want to learn, they want to develop. I think cities really provide that place to develop and learn.

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    On Anti-Corruption Movement

    August 26th, 2011

    Having been associated with the real estate industry earlier on in my career, I had to deal with immense level of corruption first hand. I had to see that bribes needed to be paid at various levels to get approvals at every stage of the building process. I believe that the criminalization and corruption in India’s real estate was due to a systemic failure. The toxic License Raj might have vanished from some sectors of the Indian economy but it is well and truly alive in the Indian real estate. From buying land to getting building completion certificates, the lengths that the real estate industry has to endure to complete a project is outrageous. Mumbai, for example, has a multi-stage building approval system and requires over 50 certificates before completion of a project, which can take anywhere from 24 months to 36 months. This level of red tape, along with regulations that are vague, allows politicians or bureaucrats to use their discretionary powers (read corruption). There is a desperate need to fix our rule of law & governance systems and make them more transparent and simple. It’s a crucial issue that is at the heart of ensuring good governance in multiple sectors especially in the area of urbanization that’s at the heart of our work at The Urban Vision.

    So even as I have been an ardent supporter of the Anticorruption Movement in India as a wonderful step in the right direction, I am going to raise a few points that are concerning.

    • Looking at the tone of the anticorruption debate in India. I think that we are taking our Democracy for granted. My Favorite Professor Francis Fukuyama points out the “anti-statist political culture” in this recent CNN interview and says  ”We don’t appreciate the importance of having a functioning government and how difficult it was historically to create a society in which government existed” . See : . State is important too. Let’s not lose sight of that Idea.
    • Let’s stop undermining our democracy. You cannot hold  one of the key institutions of our democracy “the Parliament” to gun point and tell them to pass “the Civil Society’s” bill (I am not an expert in this area, But even to me , the bill looks way too nascent at this time. It looks more like a populist rhetoric rather than a substantive law at this moment). See : . The bill needs time. We will need to carefully examine all components of it and ensure enough checks & balances. We desperately need the experts to examine & make suggestions and take note of how such committees have failed or succeeded in other parts of the world. The Devil is in the details.
    • It’s naïve to assume that an anticorruption bill will solve all our problems. It’s a step in the right direction no doubt. But an all-powerful anticorruption committee can be a threat to democracy too. We have seen that Anti-Corruption Committee’s, if too powerful and without accountability can abuse power as well. Case in Point, Indonesia: . Individuals in  anti-Corruption Committee’s can be as susceptible as anyone else to corrupt practices. It’s a tough Balance. It’s needed, but the details are more important than the generic ideas. Or we will be creating another monster.
    • We must be strategic in building these institutions. Have a look at Jan LokPal Charter . Jan LokPal charter is basically corruption at every level of Public life (It’s like another court system. We are already aware of how inefficient our legal systems are because of the way it was structured.) We are again trying to build another institution whose charter is everything. So in the end of it, it won’t solve anything. Justice delayed is justice denied.

    I don’t have answers to some of these burning questions. In fact, I am not very clear of my own position on these issues at this time. But I would love to see some sense of civility & balance in these debates from all the parties concerned. We are trying to build a gigantic institution. Let’s not do it in haste. Let’s get the best constitutional / legal experts from around the world to contribute to making it the best.

    I will also say that it’s a momentous time for us as a democracy. I am very proud of our democratic values. Looking at all the authoritarian regimes around the world makes me extremely grateful towards our founding fathers who have ensured that we are a democracy today. Let’s not take that idea for granted. Let’s not take those historic struggles for granted. We could have easily been a Egypt, Tunisia , Zimbabwe or a Pakistan, if not for the democratic values that our forefathers pursued.

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