Cross-Pollination in the Doshi Habitat

A Report from Ahmedabad


  • Dirk van den Heuvel TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


Students of Delft University of Technology have been taking part in the Habitat Design Studio in Ahmedabad since 2010. The design studio is organized annually by Balkrishna Doshi and his firm Vastu Shilpa.1 For two months, the students work on a task related to the explosive growth of the city together with other European students and students from India. This may involve slum improvement, urban densification challenges or design research with regard to self-build practices. For the 2015 edition, the construction of a new subway line was reason to investigate its possible effects on the existing urban tissue. All studio editions centred on local neighbourhood communities and how these can be best enabled to reshape their own living environment. The students live in Ahmedabad for two months and their work at Doshi’s firm immerses them in the culture of India, the context of rapid urbanization and the conflicts arising between twenty-first-century modernity, growing new middle classes that embrace a materialistic lifestyle, and the influx of migrants who try their luck in the city while still holding on to a much more traditional lifestyle.

Author Biography

Dirk van den Heuvel, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Dirk van den Heuvel is an associate professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. He also heads the Jaap Bakema Study Centre at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. Books he (co-)authored include Jaap Bakema and the Open Society (2018), Team 10: In Search of a Utopia of the Present 1953-1981 (2005) and Architecture and the Welfare State (2014). He is a member of the editorial board of the online journal for architecture theory Footprint, and he was an editor of the journal OASE (1993-1999). Van den Heuvel was curator of the Dutch national pavilion for the Venice architecture biennale in 2014. In 2017 he received a Richard Rogers Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.