You are now in the main content area

Design Studio takes McEwen School of Architecture graduate students to Delhi, India and the Old Walled City of Shahjahanabad in old Delhi

SSHRC Insight Development Grant supports the development of architecture and urban design proposals.

(December 20, 2022) - “It was when the plane hit the tarmac in Delhi that I truly realized how incredible this experience would be for the students,” said McEwen School of Architecture Professor Shannon Bassett. 

On December 17th 2022, first year Master of Architecture students from Professor Shannon Bassett’s Graduate Architecture Studio class presented their architecture and urban design proposals for the Old Walled City of Delhi at Laurentian University’s McEwen School of Architecture. To develop these architecture and urban design proposals, graduate students had the opportunity to travel to India  from October 7th through 22nd. The team was primarily based in New Delhi but also travelled to other key cities in India as examples in best-case practices in Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design. 

While in India, the group worked in collaboration with faculty and students from the renowned Delhi School of Planning and Architecture. They met with elected officials, stakeholders and members of the community who informed ongoing designs - designs part of a larger Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council entitled, “Reducing Risk, Raising Resilience: Recovering the Public Spaces of Shahjahanabad Through Participatory Conservation and Ecological Urbanism.”

“Through action-oriented design research, this grant helps us to address issues being faced by Shahjahanabad, the Old Walled City of Delhi, which faces architectural decay and degradation, in addition to the ecological fragmentation of a once ecologically resilient urban fabric and cultural landscape, with its innovative and sustainable interconnected public space systems,” said Bassett. “We hope that we can help shape the build environment and its future sustainability, as well as serving as a useful best-case practice model.” 

Added Natalia Sawant, a participating graduate student originally from Mumbai, India, who was raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: “Participating in this graduate studio has been an insightful experience. Through various scales of groundwork and field research, we have been able to organize creative interventions that are meant to aid or improve on the existing and historical structure of Old Delhi within its urban context. The trip itself deeply aided in the design process, prompting us to think about the larger and deeply cultural context of architecture within an international milieu.”

Said another participating student, Jan Paolo Masangkay, originally from Manila, Philippines: “The trip was an eye-opening experience for many, as the culture in New Delhi was a drastic change to our familiar setting in Greater Sudbury. This experience has led many to think, research, and design their architectural interventions in ways that prioritize and highlight the rich history, culture, and people of India.” 

During their expedition, students and Bassett had the opportunity to travel to other cities and world heritage sites across India to further their educational experiences. Stops included the new city of Chandigarh, the Taj Maha and Agra Fort in Agal, Fatehpur Sikri and Jaipur (The Water City). “ I am so proud of these students who I think had a lot of fun as well. The experience was very bonding and I think all appreciated the learning opportunity outside of the classroom,” said Bassett.  

According to Bassett, as this project is further developed, she looks forward to a return voyage to Shahjahanabad with select graduate students to assist with the implementation of design proposals and to present the design proposals to the community, stakeholders and elected officials.There will be an ensuing publication of the project as well as a travelling exhibition which will feature the student’s design proposals in it.

For more information, visit the project’s website or email Shannon Bassett at