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Urban Spaces© Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan

Urban Spaces

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The urban cosmos

Cities are colourful places where diverse people live together. They are social spaces of coming together, they are industrial and economic spaces for work and livelihood; they are spaces for art and culture. They are places of refuge for people with great longing and places for lost dreams. Cities have structure and yet are subject to chaos; they are characterized by strength and resilience and yet are vulnerable to the forces of nature.

Cities are our home. They are spaces in which we move mechanically, but which at the same time open up great potential for creative freedom. They are spaces that we use, exploit, appreciate or ignore. Spaces in which we come together with familiar faces and strange figures to exchange ideas, to learn about new perspectives and ways of life, to grow. At the same moment, our cities continue to grow inexorably.

Finding new ways

But how can we make the city's spaces more socially friendly and attractive? How can we come together safely in public places in times of the pandemic? How can we make our cities more climate-friendly and sustainable? What is our vision of a liveable city?

About the project

The "Urban Spaces"-Project will revolve around these and many other questions. In lectures, discussions and workshops, participants will interactively learn about the challenges and opportunities of modern urban design and together find solutions for a better way of living together. Topics such as architecture, sustainability, social spaces, public art, photography and much more will be addressed.

  • When? From 20.09.2021
  • Who? Students in grades 8-12 and undergraduate students 
  • Where? Online (Zoom)

Our programme

Our project offers a wide range of different activies. Feel free to browse and join us to be part of Urban Spaces.

"My City..." - Video Campaign © Goethe-Institut What comes to your mind when you think about your own city? Which emotions come up? Which attributes would you link with your city?

As part of the Urban Spaces – Project we are inviting you to participate in a creative video campaign. Please record short videos, not longer than 30 seconds, using the phrase “My City is…” and continuing the sentence in any creative way. The best videos will be used during our events and on our Social Media channels.

More info: 
- Record a short video of yourself
- A maximum of 30 seconds
- Portrait format
- Continue the sentence "My City is..." 
- Use English language
- Upload the video in mp4 
- Everyone can participate

Please upload the video here. We are awaiting your creative results with excitement. 
Urban Spaces © Goethe-Institut Public spaces are the kit of a city. It is where we meet our fellow human beings, where we exchange ideas, where we leave our isolation and transform ourselves from individuals into communities. But how can we make these public spaces fair? How can we create accessibility for all? And what does a safe public space look like in the post-Corona city?

We would like to develop approaches to these questions in a roundtable discussion between three countries:  India, Germany and Bangladesh. Three countries whose urban culture seems to differ greatly at first glance. But what commonalities can we find and how can we learn from each other? 

Our guests will be Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley from the University of Stuttgart, Brinda Somaya from Mumbai, Prof. Durganand Balsavar from Chennai and Saif Ul Haque from the Bengal Institute of Architecture in Bangladesh. The discussion will be led by Arunava Dasgupta, Head of Urban Design at the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi.

Register here for the discussion panel. 
Lecture by: Ruhul Abdin / Paraa / Dhaka, Bangladesh
Urban Spaces © Goethe-Institut What is the potential role and processes for architecture in community building?  

Deep in the heart of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the architecture and design studio Paraa. Here, young, ambitious architects and designers are working on their own vision: a commercially sustainable studio that first focuses on the rights and desires of the respective community, examining traditional methods, social and economic conditions before a project can be realized.

Paraa’s approach to design, collaboration and working in different vulnerable urban neighbourhoods  in Dhaka will be introduced to us by the director and co-founder of the studio Ruhul Abdin in his lecture. 

Please register here for the lecture. 
Lecture by: Prof. Dr. Frank Eckardt / Bauhaus University / Weimar, Germany
Urban Spaces © Goethe-Institut Is there a need for a shared city? 

Public spaces are essential for a city. They are the places where we meet our fellow human beings, where we exchange ideas. They are places of entertainment and diversity. Here we meet each other on an equal footing. But what actually characterizes a public space? What are its challenges but also its opportunities? And how can we safely meet other people in public places even in times of pandemic? 

This is what Prof. Dr. Frank Eckardt from the Bauhaus University in Weimar will present in his lecture "Public Space for all - the need for a shared city". 

Please register here for the lecture. 
Urban Spaces © Goethe-Institut In 2018, half of the world's population lived in cities. The numbers are rising rapidly. By 2050, this figure is expected to reach 66%. But what actually defines a city and why are cities such magnets for people? What challenges does the expansion of metropolises bring with it and what does this mean for rural regions?

Together with Reuben Abraham, CEO of the IDFC Institute in Mumbai, we want to explore the topic of "cities" and take a look in particular at India, where cities are growing faster and more uncontrollably than in other corners of the world.

Join us and register here

Our workshops

Public Spaces

Public Spaces

Green Spaces

Green Spaces

Beautiful Spaces

Beautiful Spaces

Future Spaces

Future Spaces


Urban Spaces
© Goethe Institut

Our experts

Durganand Balsavar © Durganand Balsavar

Durganand Balsavar

Prof. Durganand Balsavar (Nandan) is an architect, environmentalist, and writer. He founded Artes-Human settlements Research Collaborative and the ROOTS Fellowship. Balsavar graduated from CEPT-SA Ahmedabad and ETH Zurich (Exchange). and has been engaged with environment, communities, future cities, rural, disaster mitigation and war refugee rehabilitation. He has received several awards and been invited to present in Indian and International Universities - Cambridge Univ-UK-VIT  Future Cities Summit, Auckland, Nepal, Croatia, Chennai MDA Master Plan, AMB Barcelona UN post Habitat III, Berlin Climate Policy 2050 VP, Goethe Institut - Rivers Program.

Nandan will join us for the discussion panel on 20.09. 

Brinda Somaya © Brinda Somaya

Brinda Somaya

Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University and her Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, MA, USA, she started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants (SNK) in 1978 in Mumbai, India. In May 2012 she was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College. In 2014 she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects – Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement and was also nominated for the arcVision Prize. Presently she is the A.D. White Professor-at-large at Cornell University, U.S.A.

We are happy that Brinda Somaya will join us for the discussion panel on 20.09. 

Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley © Astrid Ley

Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley

Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley is Chair to the Department of International Urbanism, co-director of the Institute for Urban Planning and Design and course director of the international masters’ program on Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Stuttgart. Her expertise in urban development has led her to work as a consultant for the oikos human settlements research group. She holds a degree in architecture and urban design from Rheinisch-Westfälisch Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen and a Doctor of Engineering degree from the Technical University Berlin (TU Berlin).

Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley will be part of our discussion panel on 20.09. 

Prof. Dr. Frank Eckardt © Frank Eckardt

Prof. Dr. Frank Eckardt

Prof. Dr. Frank Eckardt holds a doctorate in political science and since 2008 he is a Professor for Social Science Urban Research at the Bauhaus University Weimar, where he is active in the education of urban planners.  His research focuses on issues of social inequality and cultural diversity in the city. Recent publications include "Reserach and Policy on Urban Displacement Processes" and "Urban Policy for All! Cities between Pandemic and Transformation" published by Springer Verlag. 

We are pleased to have Prof. Dr. Frank Eckardt join us with a keynote lecture on "Public Space For All" on 22.09. 


Arunava Dasgupta © Arunava Dasgupta

Dr. Arunava Dasgupta

Dr. Arunava Dasgupta is an urban designer and architect, presently heading the Department of Urban Design, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. As founder member and former National Secretary of the Institute of Urban Designers – India, he is actively promoting the ideal of holistic urban design while creating alternative development frameworks using community participation as a central tool for local area design. He is presently an expert member of the State Heritage Advisory Committee of Himachal Pradesh and the Heritage Conservation Committee of NCT, Delhi.

We are delighted that Arunava will host our discussion on 20.09. 

Saif Ul Haque © Saif Ul Haque

Saif Ul Haque

Saif Ul Haque is the Principal of Dhaka based architectural practice Saif Ul Haque Sthapati (SHS) and Director Research and Design Program at the Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements also at Dhaka, Bangladesh. He studied architecture at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and is involved in practice, research and education. His works include residential, institutional and industrial facilities at different locations in Bangladesh and have been published and exhibited in and outside Bangladesh. 

We are glad that Saif Ul Haque is joining us for the discussion on 20.09. 

Reuben Abraham © Reuben Abraham

Reuben Abraham

Reuben Abraham is CEO of IDFC Foundation and IDFC Institute, a Mumbai based think/do tank focused on state capability and political economy issues. He is a non-resident scholar at the Marron Institute at New York University, and a senior fellow at the Milken Institute in Singapore. In addition, he is a Senior Advisor to Swiss Re and an Honorary Advisor to the New Zealand government at the New Zealand Asia Foundation. In 2012, he was named to Wired Magazine’s “Smart List 2012: 50 people who will change the world.”

We are very happy that Reuben Abraham will join us for a talk on 24.09. 

Ruhul Abdin © Ruhul Abdin

Ruhul Abdin

Ruhul is co-founder of Paraa, a architecture and design studio in Dhaka. He is a British - Bangladeshi urban researcher, architectural designer, teacher and artist. He studied architecture and urban development planning in London. He has split his time between Dhaka and London and is currently based mainly in Dhaka. His work has spanned across architecture, film, drawings, writings, publications, installations, photography, community organising in very diverse projects in the last ten years. 

We are delighted that Ruhul will give an impulse speech on 21.09. 

Nipun Prabhakar © Nipun Prabhakar

Nipun Prabhakar

Nipun Prabhakar is a documentary photographer based in Kachchh, Bhopal and Delhi. He is also a trained architect and works extensively with local communities. He works on long-term projects dealing with intersections of ideas, artefacts, built environments, and folklore. Apart from photography and architecture projects, he does curated phone-photography and visual storytelling workshops with various institutions and NGOs. Most recently, he collaborated with the sheepherders in Gujarat, training them to document their lives using their phone cameras.

Nipun will conduct an Urban-Photography workshop with us.

Klaus Schmitz-Gielsdorf © Klaus Schmitz-Gielsdorf

Klaus Schmitz-Gielsdorf

Klaus Schmitz-Gielsdorf is a true expert in the field of architecture and urban planning. After studying architecture at RWTH Aachen University, he gained years of experience in architectural offices before starting his own business. After further studies and the completion of a Masters of Urban Management, he then became a certified passive house planner and chief architect for the city of Leipzig. Klaus Schmitz-Gielsdorf was also able to apply his diverse work experience as mayor and building department head of the city of Gotha. Since June 2019, he is now a research associate at the Chair of Construction Economics and Construction Management at Bauhaus University in Weimar.
We are very pleased that Klaus Schmitz-Gielsdorf will lead a workshop on "Biophilic Architecture and Urbanism - Reintegrating the City into Nature".

Johannes Ernst © Johannes Ernst

Johannes Ernst

Johannes Ernst was born in Bonn, but lives and works as a freelance graphic designer and photographer in Leipzig. After his diploma in 'visual communication' at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, he also completed a diploma in 'artistic photography' at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig and has been appointed master student in 2021.   

Johannes will conduct an Urban-Photography-Workshop named "Things to come". 

Gaurav Juyal © Gaurav Juyal

Gaurav Juyal

Gaurav Juyal is an education designer with focus on learning experiences. He specialized in Animation Film Design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. A Tedx speaker, he is popularly known for his role as the host of Disney channel's television series Art Attack. He has over 11 years of experience as a faculty, multimaterial artist and a learning designer.

He loves knowledge-material play and aims at sharing his love for design and expressive arts to children, youth and adults; to mutually learn and evolve. He believes that knowledge is interactive and should be available to everyone who wishes to pursue it. 

We are happy that Gaurav will lead a workshop on "Future in Motion". 


Matthias Dünnwald 

Matthias Dünnwald © Goethe Institut Project Manager, Educational Services
Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi
Tel. +91 11 23471100