Environment and Spatiality

Coordinators - Sabaa Giradkar & Vastavikta Bhagat

The uncertainties associated with menacing global environmental changes such as deglaciation and proliferating pathogens present capacities to transpose life to a putative tipping point of habitat change, or a new normal. Design and planning fields largely attempt to futureproof places from this tipping point ‘all at once.’ Such attempts towards futureproofing mobilize conceptual tropes such as the ‘rule of law,’‘the local,’ ‘embodied energy’ and ‘green technology’ for environmental protection and conservation.

We have come to consider the environment as a visible and invisible infrastructure of dynamic, unsynchronized relationships - always forming and reforming - between humans themselves and other species, and with ‘things’ in their habitat. This standpoint foregrounds new questions for spatial research that the CSS is currently engaged in: How do the changing rhythms and temporalities of human and more than human life weave into habitats? What forms of attention and care do individuals and groups pay to one another, and to ‘things’ in their habitat? How could spatial pedagogy and practice articulate an ethics of care in the changing rhythms and temporalities of life, and in the face of the current discourses of growth and degrowth, degradation and risk, stress and resilience and so on? What could be the orientations of new engagements with the habitat that emerge from such ethics? What is required of pedagogy to respond to these interrogations?

The research in this cluster addresses these questions to develop new understandings of and engagements in cities as intertwined expressions of biophysical and sociopolitical phenomena through the following initiatives:

1. Post-Intensive Landscapes: Studying sites that have been used by intense human activity and abandoned like quarrying, mining, agriculture, garbage disposal, etc.

2. Alternative Mappings of Environment: Documenting relationships between human cultures and their environment with specific focus on built-form, studying the ways and manners of engagements by different cultures.

3. Wetness in the weave of life, and the architectures of (ex)foliation inquires into the myriad ways in which monsoonal wetness weaves in urban life and engages with democratizing climate action in coastal cities.    

4. Environment and Care: Rethinking environment in/through the realm of experiences, compassions and care - beyond the ideas of climate indicators, climate crisis, environment - friendliness, etc.