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Utzon Lecture - Kinetic City: Learning from Urbanism in South Asia



Utzon Lecture
Kinetic City: Learning from Urbanism in South Asia

By Rahul Mehrotra | RMA Architects

Date: Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Time: 6pm

Venue: Law Theatre, UNSW Kensington

For further information contact:

This Utzon lecture is part of the UNSW Grand Challenges Program 
Today, Indian cities in South Asia are comprised of two components occupying the same physical space. One, which could be called the Static City, is built of more permanent material and its two-dimensional conception appears on conventional city maps, and is monumental in its presence. The other a Kinetic City is perceived as a city in motion – a three-dimensional construct of incremental development.

The Kinetic City is temporary in nature, constantly modifies and reinvents itself. The Kinetic City is not perceived in architectural terms, but rather in terms of spaces and patterns of occupation. It is an indigenous urbanism with its particular ‘local’ logic. The Kinetic City is not necessarily the city of the poor, as most images might suggest; rather it is a temporal articulation and occupation of space which not only creates a richer character of spatial occupation, but also suggests how spatial limits are expanded to include formally unimagined uses in dense urban conditions.

The Kinetic City framework has the potential to allow a better understanding of the blurred lines of contemporary urbanism and the changing roles of people and spaces in urban society. The increasing concentrations of global flows have exacerbated the inequalities and spatial divisions of social classes. In this context, an architecture or urbanism of equality in an increasingly inequitable economic condition requires looking deeper to find a wide range of places to acknowledge and commemorate the cultures and environments of those excluded from the spaces of global flows. These don’t necessarily lie in the formal production of architecture, but often challenge it. Here the idea of a city is an elastic urban condition, not a grand vision, but a grand adjustment.

Rahul Mehrotra

Rahul Mehrotra is a practicing architect, urban designer, and educator. His firm, RMA Architects, was founded in 1990 in Mumbai and has designed and executed projects for clients that include government and nongovernmental agencies, corporate, as well as private individuals and institutions.

The firm has also initiated several unsolicited projects driven by the firm’s commitment to advocacy in the city of Mumbai. Mehrotra is a professor of urban design and planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and has written and lectured extensively on architecture, conservation, and urban planning in Mumbai and India.

His writings include coauthoring Bombay—The Cities Within, Banganga—Sacred Tank, Public Places Bombay, Bombay to Mumbai—Changing Perspectives and The Kumbh Mela – mapping the ephemeral mega city.

He has also co-authored Conserving an Image Center—The Fort Precinct in Bombay. Based on this study and its recommendations, the historic Fort area in Mumbai was declared a conservation precinct in 1995—the first such designation in India. His recent book is Architecture in India, since 1990 which became the basis for an exhibition he co curated titled – The State of Architecture – Practises and Processes in India which was opened at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai in Jan 2016.

Page Last Updated: 02 Jun 2017