One hundred smart cities: developing an urban design perspective for smart cities in India

  • Kayalvizhi Sundarraj Chandrasekar

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research is concerned with exploring the role of urban design perspectives in a smart city, emphasising the need for ‘place’ based design approach within the smart city model. As a focus for investigating the necessity for urban design approach in smart cities, this study examines the urban design proposals within the smart city proposals of Indian cities.
Launched in 2015, India’s Smart Cities Mission (SCM) is an ambitious attempt to use the smart cities platform to rejuvenate India’s urban landscape. Unlike its developed counterparts, developing Indian cities are still grappling with several structural, infrastructural, and governance deficiencies, with urban design constituting a missing element in the city building process. This research contributes to a broad understanding of the lack of guidelines for the ‘place’ dimension within the smart city model. Though there is a realisation of the need for well-designed spaces within the SCM of India, there is a lack of mandate and systematic approach to achieving this outcome. The thesis attempts to understand the barriers and challenges to mainstreaming an urban design approach at the national level and a local contextual level. In order to understand this, a mixed-method approach was designed based on the theoretical perspective of empirical interpretivism. The methods included desktop research of policy documents, smart city proposals, the case study of two Indian cities and semi-structured interviews with professionals and key-informants involved with the smart city development process in Indian cities. II The research highlights the gap in acknowledging urban design as an essential dimension within the smart city model. The findings conclude that the institutional capacity for urban design approach is still tenuous in developing countries like India. A national-level urban design policy guideline that is supported by contextual city-level guidelines is an important consideration in addressing the current challenges of Indian cities. An integrated model for smart cities with urban design as a unifying contributor is essential to achieving smart cities. The study finally proposes conceptual urban design guidelines for achieving well-designed smart cities in India, which may also be relevant to other similar developing and less developed countries representing the emerging economies of the global South.
Date of Award21 Oct 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBhishna Bajracharya (Supervisor) & Daniel O'Hare (Supervisor)

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