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‘Tech advancement is transforming our cities beyond imagination’

AIT-SAP alumnus Amal Shukla, who has handled diverse projects under Smart City Mission points out urban planning trends that are shaping the future of cities



Born and brought up in Kanpur, Amal Shukla, an alumnus of the Apeejay Institute of Technology-School of Architecture and Planning (AIT-SAP) was an average student (academically) in school. However, he had a strong inclination towards sports and art. And with his childhood dream of becoming a cricketer and painter, this multi-talented person ended up playing cricket at state level and won many laurels in the field of art. But eventually, love towards physics and art led him to pursue a practical yet interesting field of architecture. After Apeejay, Amal pursued his Masters in Planning from IIT Roorkee, during which he also worked with GIZ for waste management in Shimla city.

The AIT-SAP’s professional journey started with HCP, Ahmedabad where he worked on town planning schemes in Ahmedabad and Vadodara, and various other urban design assignments. Later while working with Lea Associates (LASA), one of the crucial assignments he handled was the development plan of Navi Mumbai International Airport Notified Area (NAINA). Amal then joined CRISIL where his versatile portfolio helped him handle diverse projects under Smart City Mission and he worked for projects like Kalyan Dombivali, Solapur, Thane and Diu smart city. 

“My curiosity towards travelling and learning about cities, culture and nature fortunately helped me work in various geographies in India like Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra,
and currently Diu.”

Amal shukla

Currently, the architect is leading the Diu Smart City assignment. He is heading a team of around 15 members from CRISIL and L&T (consortium partner), who are working on more than 50 projects covering modules such as conservation and restoration of heritage buildings, architectural designs, urban design and landscaping, to name a few. In this interview, he explains popular trends in urban planning and more. Read on:

Explain a few urban planning trends that are shaping the future of cities?

Urban and regional planning is witnessing new challenges every other day, all over the world. However in the era full of smart information systems, the planners are realising, learning and experimenting (to tackle the challenges) likewise. There are numerous trends coming up and being practiced, a few of which I have worked on and should be mentioned are:

Urban Dynamics: Phenomenon which explains that a city is like a system comprising sub-systems such as infrastructure, social, economic, environmental, political, institutional, and others, which are interrelated and interconnected with each other. It demonstrates that instead of reactive (short-term) measures, urban planning should focus on holistic and integrated development. Urban Dynamics is a scientific and mathematical approach towards sustainable cities.

 Town Planning Schemes and Local Area Planning: When it comes to planning cities at lower hierarchy (at sector or neighborhood level), tools such as town planning schemes are beneficial to assess the potential, optimising the development and creating win-win conditions for both public and private domain.

Urban Renewal Schemes/Plans: In spite of economic development, certain parts (mostly core of the city, old commercial hubs or affordable housings, etc.) of developing cities are facing challenges to utilise optimum potential that any particular location offers. Such challenges are taken care of through Urban Renewal Schemes, which is basically strategic redevelopment of the area keeping individual rights intact.  

Integrating Blue, Green and Gray infrastructure: Integrating nature into mainstream infrastructure systems can be a sustainable and pragmatic approach towards resilient cities.

Smart City Planning: In the era where we are surrounded by data pouring from various sources, the level of city information systems we have (and are aiming at) is immensely improving actions and feedback loops. Certainly, it’s playing a significant role in shaping our cities. Technological advancement is transforming our cities and mechanisms of how cities function faster than we can imagine. One of the most empowering and crucial subsystems in the future could be ICT (Information and Communication Technology).

What inspired you to study architecture and choose Apeejay?

I was an eligible candidate for various top colleges/universities. However, my priority was to study in Delhi in order to get exposure to contemporary architecture, rich history, grasp learning opportunities and understand the metropolitan culture. AIT-SAP was a comprehensive package to fulfill all desired criteria.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay Newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.