The first-semester Foundation Studio for FP PG program is titled ‘Understanding the City’ Studio. The studio aims to develop an intimate understanding of a city and prepare students towards becoming professional urbanists through fundamental skills, concepts and methods of working in cities. The studio focuses on an evidence-based approach for framing and exploring complex urban situations and problems. The students are introduced to different topics via weekly focused exercises wherein they employ mapping, observing, representational and analytical abilities to carefully understand the needs of people, conflicting interests, financial or administrative constraints with the overarching goals of liveability, sustainability and equity in a city.
For this studio, Ahmedabad was our textbook and our laboratory. Students were assigned one sq.km area each in the city, which became their site of study. They produced weekly outputs based on pre-designed exercises focusing on different aspects of the city. Students also explored and demonstrated their analytical abilities and presented these in a persuasive narrative presentation. The fundamental principles of the studio pedagogy are viewing the city as a lab, employing multiple lenses to understand the complexities and interlinkages, understanding the city as a sum of its many parts, focusing on individualised outputs while encouraging peer learning, laying a foundation to the multiple facets of planning and development of the skills required of an urbanist. The studio operates in ten parallel units with a studio tutor and a teaching associate guiding fifteen students. Occasionally, the students shuffle between the groups for exercises like the mid-term and final synthesis exercises.
Students have been able to :
1. Map and measure the complexities of the built environment.
2. Learn to quantify, visualise and analyse urban data.
3. Engage ethically with the city dwellers through primary surveys and individual interviews.
4. Write descriptive and analytical texts while being familiarised with key text in different topics of urban planning history and theory