September 20, 2015
Paris, New York, Cairo, Tokyo. Many of the world’s great cities thrive around vital rivers. Then there’s Delhi.
Although the first settlements of Delhi—the second largest metropolis in India—were established along the banks of the sacred river Yamuna, in the early twentieth century the city began turning its back on the river. Riverfront palaces and craftsmen’s workshops once teemed with life alongside what is now a stagnant, neglected river. After several decades of inattention, the Yamuna is now extremely toxic and totally removed from the urban life of the city of Delhi, population
Since 2012, UVA Architecture students and faculty members have traveled to India to conduct studios—hands-on instructional classes in architectural design—under the guide of Peter Waldman, the India study abroad program director. In spring 2014, two UVA Architecture faculty members began a series of research studios to propose re-centering Delhi along the Yamuna River waterfront. Iñaki Alday, chair of the Department of Architecture, with Pankaj Vir Gupta (Architecture ‘93), the Harry S. Shure Visiting Professor of Architecture and principal at vir.mueller in New Delhi, then exhibited their work—Re-Centering Delhi—at the Swiss Embassy in November 2014.
The Re-Centering Delhi project proposes certain changes in the architectural face of Delhi and better urban planning management. The project’s timing is promising, given the current infrastructure and development initiatives pursued by the new Narendra Modi government.
Russell Katz (Architecture ‘90) and the Sheldon and Audrey Katz Foundation generously support the Re-Centering Delhi Research Studio. “I had the opportunity to travel through India shortly after graduating from the A-School and was fascinated by the country and intrigued by the challenges it faces—challenges that have grown ever more complex due to the explosion in population,” said Katz. “My family and I are very pleased to help the A-School engage with this important and rapidly developing country.”