LandGSD and IndiaGSD Lecture: Aneesha Dharwadker MDes ’12, “City of Edges: A History of Spatial Paradigms in Delhi”

“City of Edges: A History of Spatial Paradigms in Delhi” is the second lecture in the “Critical Conversations: Beyond the GSD” series sponsored by LandGSD that invites recent graduates of the Advanced Studies Program to return and discuss the evolution of their thesis research in the years following graduation. This lecture is generously supported by IndiaGSD.

Delhi is a city composed of edges that are constantly being transgressed. This condition is historically rooted in the paradigm of the walled city, multiple constructions of which spanned centuries before colonialism. The ‘city,’ as imagined by the pre-colonial Hindu and Muslim societies, was defined and limited by a massive continuous edge, a clear division between urban and non-urban and a defense mechanism against foreign invasion. For most of the second millennium CE, this paradigm appeared in multiple locations across the Delhi landscape, and evolved formally and tectonically but did not fundamentally alter in character. 

Aneesha Dharwadker’s Master in Design Studies thesis, titled “Delhi, The City of Edges” aspired to understand modern Delhi as the product of a unique set of conditions called the urban imaginary, rooted in the formation of the walled city; these conditions are manifested today in many different types of walls, boundaries, and thresholds, giving both historical and spatial structure to a city that is conventionally deemed ‘chaotic.’ 

This talk will cover how the thesis project has developed since 2012 from an abstract historical study, which also incorporated new types of mapping, into a series of smaller projects, lectures, and papers.

Dharwadker holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree form Cornell University, and a Master in Design Studies degree from the GSD with a concentration in History and Philosophy of Design. As a student she worked with Professor Rahul Mehrotra and the Harvard South Asia Institute to develop the GSD Urban India Initiative, which studies patterns of growth across India as well as the more specific conditions surrounding the Kumbh Mela. She is a recipient of the Penny White Travel Award and will have a version of her MDesS thesis published in the forthcoming journal Writing Cities 3

She currently practices at Safdie Architects in Somerville, MA, and has practiced previously in Toronto, Chicago, and Madison, WI. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Boston Architectural College, where she teaches a graduate-level option studio that proposes architectural-scale projects within larger systems of urbanization in Boston.

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Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].