College students join EnteKochi

On 25th April 2019, a group of 30 students from the Asian School of Architecture and Design Innovation (ASADI), Vytilla joined the EnteKochi exhibition. This was the first of ongoing outreach events with the aim of diversifying participation in the Participatory planning efforts at EnteKochi. The event aimed to collect data from a student demographic, specifically students who have specialized in the built environment of Kochi.

The students were introduced to the concept of multi-stakeholder participatory planning, a concept which is not only new to the ASADI future professionals but to India more generally. Following the initial informative sessions, the idea was further elaborated through the live participation of the students in the activities at the exhibition space. Interactive and informative boards about Kochi’s urban challenges initially sparked a discussion on how such an event or participatory activities, in general, could make changes in the city. The students were interested in how real problems on the ground could be solved through such an exercise. This led to a further exercise of identifying the cities challenges on a model of Kochi.

A new activity involving isometric cards which illustrated future possibilities and projects designs that could function as solutions to Kochi’s sustainability issues was also introduced at this event. This produced a flurry of activity, as the students picked up multiple solutions for the problem areas of Kochi. The idea was for the students to strategically place them in areas along the interactive model as needed. A common thread was seen in the mobility issues in mainland Ernakulam with a majority of solutions focusing on traffic management, introduction of paratransit and introduction of green areas and public spaces. On the other hand, the island areas had a common thread weaving through green solutions for climate change, effective coastal land management and the preservation and protection of old cultural areas.

Overall the event successfully introduced the students to participatory planning methods, which could be used by them (the future architects and urban planners of the city) once they begin their professional careers. Additionally, it allowed the facilitators to work with a unique student demographic, with valuable opinions and insights with regards to the urban challenges that Kochi faces.