Planning India: From Chandigarh to NanoCity

The goals and methods of urban planning appear to be undergoing a shift. To find out why and what the implications are for the cities of the future, swissnex San Francisco looks at two cities in India, one planned decades ago and the other still in its infancy.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


July 09, 2010 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)


swissnex San Francisco invites a panel of experts to discuss the past and future of urban planning in India, highlighting two examples: Chandigarh, a city mandated by the Nehru government in the 1950s and designed by Swiss architect Le Corbusier, and NanoCity, a yet-to-be-built metropolis initiated by entrepreneur (and Hotmail co-founder) Sabeer Bhatia and designed by the Berkeley Group for Architecture and Planning.

In many ways, these two cities suggest a shift from municipalities planned by governments to ones dreamed up by influential individuals. They may also herald a transition of power from the hands of political decision-makers to those of the business world. Even the function of cities themselves seems up for reinvention. Where Chandigarh was established as an administrative capital, NanoCity aspires to be a hub for education and high-tech.

Moderator Mark Jarzombek, Associate Dean at the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, leads the discussion with panelists Sabeer Bhatia, founder of NanoCity; Nezar AlSayyad and Susan Ubbelohde, both professors of architecture at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley and design directors of NanoCity; and Vikramāditya Prakāsh, architecture professor at the University of Washington and author of Chandigarh’s Le Corbusier: The Struggle for Modernity in Postcolonial India. An exhibition about Chandigarh and NanoCity accompanies the discussion and travels to swissnex Bangalore later this year.


6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm presentations and Q&A
8:30 pm reception
9:30 pm doors close



Nezar AlSayyad is a professor of architecture and Chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley. He has authored and edited several books on housing, identity, tradition, urbanism, urban design, and more. He has also produced and directed two public television video documentaries, Virtual Cairo and At Home with Mother Earth. His awards include the Beit AlQuran Medal, the Pioneer American Society Book Award, the American Institute of Architects Education Honors, and the Distinguished Teaching Award for 2008, the highest honor the university bestows on its faculty. He is also a principal of XXA-Office of Xross-Xultural Architecture.

AlSayyad led the collaborative project to design NanoCity in India with the Berkeley Group for Architecture and Planning, a nonprofit design alliance of Berkeley faculty, students, and professionals.


Sabeer Bhatia

Sabeer Bhatia is an entrepreneur and founder of NanoCity and sits on the board of directors of several companies as well as advises start-ups. With NanoCity, he hopes to replicate the vibrance and eco-system of innovation found in the Silicon Valley.
Bhatia was born in India in 1968. Two years into his undergraduate education at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, he transferred to Caltech. He later received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, then went on to work at Apple and Fire Power Systems before co-founding Hotmail.
Among his many honors, TIME named him one of the “People to Watch” in International Business in 2002, and he was given the “TR100” award, presented by MIT to 100 young innovators expected to have the greatest impact on technology.


Mark Jarzombek

Mark Jarzombek is Associate Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received his architectural degree from the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich, and his Ph.D. from MIT. He has held fellowships at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Humanities and Art, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Canadian Center for Architecture.
Jarzombek has received numerous awards for his research as well as for the various international conferences he has organized. He has published in a wide range of journals including the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Assemblage, and Renaissance Studies and recently completed a textbook with co-author Vikram Prakash entitled A Global History of Architecture.


Vikramāditya Prakāsh

Vikramāditya Prakāsh is a professor of architecture and an adjunct professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington in Seattle. He grew up in Chandigarh, India, and received degrees from the Chandigarh College of Architecture, Panjab University, and Cornell University. He taught at the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology in Ahmedabad, India, and at Arizona State University before joining the faculty at the University of Washington.
Prakāsh served as Associate Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and as Chair of the Department of Architecture. He has published, among other books, Chandigarh’s Le Corbusier: The Struggle for Modernity in Postcolonial India. He recently initiated an “India Program” based out of Chandigarh intended as a multidisciplinary forum to discuss and imagine the possibilities of a sustainable future for the cities of India. He is also a partner in Verge Architecture.


Susan Ubbelohde

Susan Ubbelohde is a professor in the of architecture at University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches design studios and seminars in sustainable design, lighting design, high performance facades, and architectural theory. She is a principal of Loisos + Ubbelohde Associates, a design and consulting firm based in Alameda, California, focused on high performance and sustainable design. Current projects include daylighting and energy modeling for the Edison Learning Academy in Santa Monica, California, with Daly Genik Architects, and daylighting design for Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi. She is also involved with the design of the Packard Foundation Headquarters in Los Altos, California, with EHDD Architects, as well as the NASA Sustainability Base in Moffett Field with William McDonough + Partners, both designed for carbon net-zero operation.
Ubbelohde has directed research for the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the University of California Energy Institute, and the California Institute for Energy Efficiency on daylighting design, daylighting software, climate responsive design, and monitored building performance. She has authored numerous publications, participates on a variety of technical review committees, and lectures on environmental design and energy-related topics throughout the US.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

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