Architectural and urban planning professional discuss how to make megacities cope with a quickly evolving, innovative world.
Dr. Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Economist
Christopher Choa, Principal, Aecom Design + Planning
Professor Alan Penn, Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing, University College, London
Chair: Jeremy O'Grady, Editor-in-Chief, The Week
Isher Judge Ahluwalia
Isher Judge Ahluwalia is Chairperson, Board of Governors, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER). She was awarded Padma Bhushan by the President of India in the year 2009 for her services in the field of education and literature. Dr Ahluwalia was Chairperson of the High Powered Expert Committee on Urban Infrastructure and Services during 2008-2011. She is Member, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council and is on the Boards of a number of premier research institutes in India. Dr Ahluwalia was Vice Chairperson of the Punjab State Planning Board from 2005 to 2007.
Dr Ahluwalia is a Member of the Eminent Persons Group on India-ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) set up by the respective governments. She is Vice Chairperson, Global Development Network, New Delhi and Member, Board of Trustees of the International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka. She was Chairperson, Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington D.C. from 2003 to 2006, and a Member of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of the Asian Development Bank, which submitted its report, “Towards a New Asian Development Bank in a New Asia” in May 2008.
Dr. Ahluwalia received her B.A. from Presidency College, Calcutta University, M.A. from the Delhi School of Economics, and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), all in economics. Her research has focused on industrial development, macro-economic reforms, and issues in social sector development in India. She has contributed articles to professionally refereed journals and also engaged in policy debates through the print and electronic media. She is author/co-author/editor of several books including India’s Economic Reforms and Development: Essays for Manmohan Singh (OUP), which she co-edited with Prof. I.M.D Little in 1998 and which has just been reprinted (March 2012) in an updated second edition by OUP as an Oxford India Perennial.
Christopher Choa is a Principal with AECOM, the international land development and infrastructure consultancy. He focuses on urban regeneration and enhancing regional competitiveness. A prize-winning architect, a graduate of both Harvard and Yale, and native New Yorker, he is based in London and leads the firm’s urban development studio.
Alan is the Dean of the Bartlett faculty of the Built Environment and a founding director of Space Syntax Ltd, a UCL knowledge transfer spin out with a portfolio of over 100 applied projects per year, including whole city masterplans, neighbourhood development plans and individual buildings. He is a member of the Space Group, an EPSRC Platform funded research group. He was the founding Chair of the RIBA’s Research and Innovation Committee, and served in that role until 2006. He was Chair of the Architecture & the Built Environment sub-panel 30 for the UK National Research Assessment Exercise 2008, and a member of its Main Panel H. He is the Chair of the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning sub-panel 16 and a member of Main-panel C for the Research Excellence Framework 2014. He was the lead academic on the £5m Urban Buzz: Building Sustainable Communities knowledge exchange programme which promoted more sustainable forms of urban development and intensification in London and the greater South East Region of the UK. He was Principal Investigator on the City History and Multi-scale Spatial Master-planning UK-China Research Network, 国际研究网络：城市历史与多尺度的空间整体规划, funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop UK-Chinese academic research collaboration. He is a trustee of the Shakespeare North Trust and of the Institute for Sustainability.
His research focuses on understanding the way that the design of the built environment affects the patterns of social and economic behaviour of organisations and communities. How is it that architecture and urban design matter for those that inhabit them? How is it that the spatial design of cities and neighbourhoods leads to the generation of cultural and community identity? Under what conditions do vital and thriving creative communities occur, and under what conditions does crime and urban malaise develop?
In order to investigate these questions he has developed both research methodologies and software tools. These are known as ‘space syntax’ methods. Current research includes the development of agent based simulations of human behaviour, the development of spatio-temporal representations of built environments, investigations of urban spatial networks and the application of these techniques in studies of urban sustainability in the broadest sense, covering social, economic, environmental and institutional dimensions.
As cities grow and advance, citizens living within them experience a higher quality of life. Dr. Justin Bishop of the University of Oxford talks about improving urban areas even further with green spaces that can enhance the environment by reducing pollution or filtering water and waste.