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ideas competition   



Winner and Finalists  |  Foreword  |  Context  |  Application  |  Competition Brief  |  Criteria of Evaluation  |  Schedule of Competition  |  Competition Details  |  Format of Entries  |  Contact Us

Dear Participant,

Thank you for your interest in “Delhi Within”, an ideas competition organised by Champion Cities as part of the inaugural Habitat Summit 2009. It is part of our effort to encourage a multi-disciplinary engagement with the city and urban issues and to facilitate positive change in India's cities undergoing rapid transformations in their built environment.

Delhi, through its long history and geo-political significance, has evolved an urban experience that is a syncretisation of numerous cultural influences. This process of absorption of influences has become mercurial and convoluted in today's globalised, connected world. Due to its non-linear evolution, the city's character, cultural practices and identity are unique in that they are multivocal and naturally enhance the inclusiveness of the city. The fear remains that due to the rapid pace of development the city has set itself, significant anchors and contexts for Delhi's vibrant urban character and inclusiveness might erode due to a lack of perceived relevance or recognition.

“Delhi Within” looks to eke out innovative, visionary ideas and processes that would bring these intrinsic spaces, contexts and urban cultural practices to the fore as valuable assets to be leveraged for creating enriched urban experiences in an engaging, inclusive city. It intends to showcase ideas borne out of multi-disciplinary research and creative practices that reveal and work with the forces that create define, evolve and mutate urban environments and experiences.

The competition is open to all, to participate in as individuals or as institutions. We do, however, encourage multi-disciplinary efforts that would approach, engage, ideate and articulate on multiple fronts. The format of the competition has been devised to afford you, the participant, maximum flexibility and width to articulate ideas that may not be completely communicated through single media or linear processes. We encourage you to exploit this width to reveal the soul of the city and capture the essence of a radical idea that would keep Delhi's “delhi-ness” relevant and vibrant as it tries to realise its dream of being a city of global importance.

We hope you find participating in this competition an exciting and enjoyable experience. All the very best!

Raj Liberhan
Director, India Habitat Centre
Anupam Yog
Managing Director, Mirabilis Advisory
Madhav Raman
Principal, Anagram Architects




"A single exhaustive definition eludes a city's "Urban Experience". Nevertheless it could perhaps be described as a woven composite, mainly defined by its Built Character, its Urban Identity and the behaviour of its residents."

Built Character: The evolution, conservation and renewal of the built character of a city is governed by planning norms, building controls and urban policy which are the traditional instruments of urban planning and urban design. The built character makes the most immediate spatial and visual impact of the city's "hardware" on the psyche of its residents. Through its deliberate control and careful manipulation, a physical sense of "place" may be created within different precincts of the city. It is even possible to create "urban icons", spaces that induce a sense of belonging through their distinct and unique singularity.

Urban Identity: However, "place-making" is truly the work of the citizens of a city. Certain urban contexts of the city strike a deep chord with its residents. Even though they may be unremarkable architecturally, the chord resonates with the citizenry so strongly that a collective identity gets invested in these "places". The "places" then move beyond the realm of physical symbolism and become iconic within the minds of the residents, contributing immeasurably to their urban identity. Quite often, this is less through physical engineering, but due more to the nurturing of numerous inherent characteristics such as historicity, accessibility, multivocal qualities and inclusive nature.

Urban Behaviour: Multivocal urban contexts carry unique meaning to each individual; their simultaneous inclusiveness allows people to openly engage with them both individually and collectively. Such spaces and contexts within a city have a deeply reciprocal relationship with the Urban Behaviour of the residents, the manner in which they view and engage with their city, and with each other. The urban behaviour of a city replicates itself in recognizable patterns at multiple scales.


“As emerging cities hurtle along the path of rapid urbanisation, many issues that pertain to urban experience fall outside the purview of formal tracks of urban planning and policy.”

Urban experience evolves over many years of habitation in a settlement and has deep cultural and socio-economic roots. Its very nature makes it impossible to describe- and therefore analyse in purely statistical terms. Yet it adds immeasurable value to the city. It enhances the livability of the city and increases its ability to attract and absorb human capital. In short, it vitalises a city, encouraging a sense of belonging amongst residents and widening their engagement with the city and with each other. This helps empower segments of urban society whose means are limited and who seem to have a reduced stake in the city. It increases the adoption and utilisation of the city's infrastructure and spaces through culturally congruent means. Other aspects of healthy urban behaviour such as syncretism, tolerance, a social conscience, and a liberal outlook are intrinsically linked to a vibrant urban experience.

The urgency for development in emerging cities puts a strong emphasis on globalised models of infrastructure development and technological advancement. Yet, this often results in eroding the intangible quality of urban experience. Moreover, the pace of development frequently allows inadequate time and space for the city to adopt new physical infrastructure and spaces, and infuse them with its inherent urban character. Crucially, the rapid introduction of new physical assets to the city renders older- often more vibrant assets- redundant, defunct or underutilised. Their reinterpretation and regeneration may help in creating timeless, relevant socio-cultural anchors that are vital for cities experiencing vast change over a relatively short period of time.

What are these core assets which hold the key to revealing a city's identity or character? · What is the nature of their potential to add value to the urban living condition? · In what manner could these be tapped or reinvented to create more inclusiveness? · How can these assets empower residents, and result in socio-ecologically aware lifestyles?



The DELHI WITHIN IDEAS COMPETITION encourages you to investigate your city- to discover and reveal its hitherto hidden assets. It gives you the opportunity to put forward radical ideas to tap potentials, and use existing urban contexts as resources. You can help to create a self-confident, vibrant city that celebrates its own identity while pursuing its dreams of becoming a global megacity. The contexts to be investigated this year are:

Redundancies enroute: Within Delhi's grade separators, interchanges and rotaries, pockets of redundant spaces and surfaces such as flyover soffits, traffic islands, medians and roundabouts exist. Such features are permanent components to our cityscape. While they are constantly on view (to commuters for example), there is scant engagement with the city. Can these spaces do more than merely channelise traffic?

Defunct Urban Hardware: As Delhi acquires new infrastructure and buildings, old structures, "hardware" and edifices are abandoned, get underutilised, or become superfluous. Many of these have significant urban value due to their age, iconic status or location. Could they be innovatively leveraged?

Water Conduits: From the natural drainage systems (nullahs) to sewers; water supply pipelines to water tankers- various conduits and channels of water scour Delhi. How can their value as existing networks be better used by the city?

Green Reserves: Delhi's Ridge Forests were a contiguous belt that ensconced the formal city just a few decades ago. Rapid agglomeration has reduced these to green enclaves of various sizes. While it is imperative that these are protected and allowed to thrive, it is equally important for them to be part of Delhi life. What form of engagement should this be?

Urban Villages & Historic Settlements: Delhi's many "original" settlements and rural enclaves give a unique flavour to the city but seem to be at odds with development policies. Being outside the ambit of urban controls, they remain excluded from the fabric of the city. Could these settlements potentially enhance the inclusiveness of the city and become vibrant contributors to Delhi's urban experience?

Wholesale markets and Street Commerce: Delhi's urban culture, like that of most other old cities across India, is very deeply linked to the street- and the commerce of the street. This is the essence of Indian city life and Delhi has its own special relationship with what is now termed as the "informal tertiary sector". Similarly its wholesale markets, some of which have existed for many centuries, are significant cultural anchors. Can these seedbeds of interstitial urbanism be revived?



The indicative- but not exhaustive- criteria for evaluating responses include:

Focus on Experiences: Integrating individual perceptions of urban spaces and assets into a holistic collective experience.

Hidden Assets: Exploring the often overlooked resources of a city that could potentially add intangible value to the city.

Being Multi-disciplinary: The competition promotes collaborative models for the fuzzy front end of innovation within urban contexts. Being a multi-disciplinary team helps to bring diverse perspectives to a context. Thereby, patterns and connections that are not easy to uncover ordinarily become leveragable assets.

Context Specificity: While the brief for the competition outlines the broad contexts the participants would investigate, the entries must be specific to a particular area of the city (selected by the participant) and the "idea" must be articulated within its specificity. The entry submitted must also articulate, to a fair extent, the specific parameters at play which impact the "idea".

'Designed' Processes: The value of an idea lies as much in relevant processes as in the end product. The content must not only serve to the communicate the idea but also reveal the processes used to arrive at it.

Vibrant Articulation: To facilitate proactive and productive engagement with the research, explorations and solutions, the competition promotes vibrant articulation through a rich experiential language presented through photography, film, illustrations, graphics, sound, etc.


Stage Date Remark
Announcement of Competition 01 August Participation kit available for download online.
Registration & Submission of Entry 15 September  Registration form is available online. Please fill and submit along with payment online.
Jury 1 20 September Shortlist of 10 to be exhibited during the Summit
Jury 2 24-26 September  Finalists invited to make a presentation of their "Idea" at the summit venue. Winner declared.



AWARD: The first stage of the competition will yield a shortlist of 10 finalists whose entries shall be exhibited at the venue of the 1st Habitat Summit 2009 . They will receive a commendation and a "Champion Cities" memento.

The finalists will then be invited to present their ideas to the Jury in person in an open public event to be held on the last day of the Summit. They will vie for the "Stein Award" which carries a cash prize of INR 100000/- (Indian Rupees One Hundred Thousand only) and a citation.

ELIGIBILITY: This competition is open for all to participate, in teams or as individuals. However, multi-disciplinary teams would be preferred as their composition will be part of the evaluation process.


  1. Participants may apply as an individual or as a team.
  2. All entries must be uploaded as 1 zipped file to
  3. Total file size should not exceed 40mb
  4. For administration of entries, each team is required to submit a sum of INR 500. This payment must be made via cheque in favour of "Mirabilis Advisory Pvt Ltd." . Please send your registration fee to the following address:
    Urban Habitats Forum
    C/o Mirabilis Advisory Pvt Ltd.
    Suite 1019, 10th Floor
    DLF Galleria Condominiums
    Gurgaon 122009, Haryana
    Ph: +91-124-4238-452, Fax: +91-124-4238-454
  5. Upon receipt of your online entry and your cheque, a confirmation email will be sent to your team leader.
  6. Deadline for applications is 15th September 2009



The components for a complete and valid entry for the competition are:

Component Acceptable File Format Remarks
Projectable avi (Audio Video Interleaved)
wmv (Windows Media Video)
flv (Macromedia Flash Video)
swf (Shockwave Flash)
pps (MS Power Point Slideshow)
This component will articulate the concept as a film, animation or slideshow
Textual doc (Microsoft Word Document)
pdf (Acrobat Portable Document)
This component will be a Concept Note in not more than two A4 sheets
Graphical pdf (Acrobat Portable Document) This component should contain graphical information for display in not more than two A2 panels
Entry Form ONLINE To be filled online at the time of submission.

NOTE: Although there are no specific size restrictions on each component, there is an overall size restriction of 40MB per entry. The participants are advised to distribute this space across the three components as they deem fit.


Mayank Bhateja
India Habitat Centre
6th Floor, Core 5 A, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi - 110 003, India
Tel (O): +91 11 4366 2007
Tel (M): +91-98-111-84210
Fax: +91 11 2468 2008


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