A mobile app that explores what effect sustainable design, mobility and access to nature have on living standards is being used in the planning of a new city currently being constructed in India.
The city of Lavasa is a private sector-led urban development in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is approximately 130 miles from Mumbai and will eventually be home to some 300,000 people.
Two researchers from the University of Birmingham, Dr. Sophie Hadfield-Hill and Dr. Cristiana Zara, spent a year living in Lavasa; gathering data on children, young people (aged 5-23) and their families experiences of everyday life to find out how to make the city citizen-friendly and sustainable.
“Children and families are hugely affected by urban change and have much to offer in terms of their vision for urban living,” said Hadfield-Hill, lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham.
“This research has provided space for detailed ethnographic insights into the everyday experiences of urban transformation. With the Indian government putting plans in motion for a portfolio of smart city initiatives, the recommendations proposed by the project are timely.”
Thanks to the research, which was conducted as part of the New Urbanisms in India: Urban Living, Sustainability and Everyday Life project, a series of core themes emerged about what a modern city needs.
The study concluded schools should be placed at the heart of urban planning, all areas should be accessible by road and footpath and shared spaces should be included so people can meet, eat, walk and play together.
These findings were used by the researchers and city planners, with the help of of 130 young people, to build a model of the new city that reflected the study’s findings and will influence the future development of Lavasa.
Previously, Lavasa has been known for controversy. Construction was halted in 2013 because the project violated environmental laws, and even residents were unclear how organic communities would develop.
“I wouldn’t live here if I wasn’t working here,” said Lavasa resident Sakrita Koshti in an interview with the Guardian. “The main reason is there are no schools out here. If I get married and have children, they cannot get settled here in Lavasa.”
The mobile app that was used during the research – called Map my Community – will now be used in used in Delhi to map informal settlements and advocate for improved living conditions for children and their families.
The original study is available here.