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Heritage Design, Planning & Management

"One of our deepest needs is for a sense of identity and belonging and a common denominator in this is human attachment to landscape and how we find identity in landscape and place. Landscape therefore is not simply what we see, but a way of seeing: we see it with our eye but interpret it with our mind and ascribe values to landscape for intangible – spiritual – reasons. Landscape can therefore be seen as a cultural construct in which our sense of place and memories inhere. Critical to this has been the increasing attention given to the study of cultural landscapes, even to the extent of recognition in 1992 of World Heritage Categories of outstanding cultural landscapes." - Ken Taylor, Landscape & Memory


The pace of change has never been this fast in the history of mankind. As we traverse the changing landscapes of places, socio-cultural practices, technology and ways of life, the tension between history and future gets foregrounded. Heritage studies address the core of this tension with cultural and natural heritage resources being identified as well-springs for both traditional and contemporary creative practices rooted in place. The discourse on change and continuity in relation to practices, knowledge and way of life is moving beyond the actions of conservation, protection and restoration.

The program intent is to address critical concerns around the interpretation and implications of global theories and concepts in response to micro contexts and local communities.

  • How do we identify and assess, cultural and natural heritage of a place, and develop models of ownership or custodianship for these assets?
  • How can we improve cultural practices in order to support local communities to manage their inheritance?
  • How can we facilitate an exchange between different traditional and contemporary knowledge systems, to the advantage of sustaining historic and ecological assets?
  • How do we emphasise on utilitarian value of heritage and community participation, without compromising their inherited values?

A UNESCO Chair Signature Program

This program is one of the two postgraduate programs established under the UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development under the School of Law, Environment and Planning at Srishti.

The program is oriented towards deriving knowledge and principles of design from cultural and natural heritage places. It explores new ways that contemporary creative practices (including but not limited to architecture and urban design) can be informed and enriched by history, culture, ecology, tradition, community, and craft.

The Chair has identified focus regions –

  • Bengaluru metropolitan (Bangalore City)
  • Deccani region (region that includes the historic towns of Bidar, Gulbarga, Badami, and Bijapur that are on India's Tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage)
  • The Western Ghats (this includes natural heritage already inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as well as the settlements in and around it)

The contexts provide a rich tapestry of both tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage that the students engage with to co-create knowledge through collaboration with local communities and nurturing the values of the existing cultural landscapes. This process is driven towards exploring new tools of designing, managing and planning for preserving heritage sites and the surrounding milieu to the benefit of local communities. Many of these settlements have rich heritage assets that have yet to be identified, mapped and documented. A key aspect of engaging in locative studio based learning is to reinterpret intangible cultural practices through new and varied lenses to create awareness and document and disseminate intangible heritage. Individual inquiries will be fostered in a transdisciplinary learning environment to imagine new relationships between people, practices and places over changing times.

Megha Jain working with local practitioners during her internship at the Kishkinda Trust, Anegundi - Hampi facilitated by the UNESCO Chair at Srishti. (Source: Megha Jain)

Key Values

Collaborative and Participatory
Continuous Self-learning
Empathise and Empower
Ethical Engagement
Mutual Respect and Responsibility

Course structure

  • Disciplinary Studies
  • Trans-disciplinary Projects
  • Theory and Understanding Units
  • Practice
  • Self-Directed Inquiry/Research
  • Knowledge Enhancement (Ability or Skills)

Immersive site visits to places of cultural importance with subject experts. Location: Bangalore (Source: Ishita Shah)

Learning Approach

Different units and courses will be conducted through either one or more of the following approaches:

  • Project-based: To actively explore real world challenges, conflicts and problems within timelines with context-sensitivity.
  • Position-based: To foster a deep understanding of theories and practices, and arrive at individual inquiries and stand-points.
  • Place-based: To take the learning from immersive field trips and expeditions; and extend, deepen and transform them into site-specific interventions.
  • Participation-based:  To understand the diversity of actors, who passively or actively inhabit the space of inquiry, and incorporate their insights through sensitive and equitable tools.
  • Process-based: To engage with art and design research methodologies; and push the boundaries of discourses in urban design, conservation and sustainability.

The course fosters collaborations at multiple scales. The UNESCO chair, Design+Environment+Law Laboratory (DEL Laboratory) and LeNS LAB – Learning Network for Sustainability at Srishti are the centres that reinforce the course through research and projects. An extended network of partners from local communities, non-governmental organisations, government institutions, universities and industry supports the place based learning


On successful completion of the course, graduates will have acquired the following capabilities.

Knowledge and Understanding:

  • To understand, interpret and critique a wide-range of framework and approaches around protection and management of cultural and/or natural assets.
  • To conceptualise notions of contemporary creative practices, cultural landscapes and heritage compatible development to better the social environments and benefit local communities.

Communication Skills:

  • To build inventories, assess threats or potential, and write proposals, using a wide range of information and insights about historic sites, local communities and regional practices.
  • To document, map, survey, research, record, analyse, visualise, theorise and disseminate a wide range of information and insights.

Practitioner Skills:

  • To design and manage initiatives for heritage protection, in varying capacities across different contexts and scales, while nurturing creativity and participation.

Overview of inquiry based curriculum and possible tracks for defining individual positions and practices.


This course provides an opportunity for students to either pursue higher studies, define their own collaborative practice as well as find a position in variety of workplaces i.e. cultural organisations, government bodies, not-for-profit initiatives, art and design practices, research institutions and others.

Opportunities can be identified across different creative economies and some of them would be: Advocacy, Arts, Conservation, Knowledge Centers, Media and Tourism.

Ananta Dutta, presenting her work on Interpreting the Cultural Heritage of Gulbarga through Cultural Mapping, developed as an internship project under the Sahapedia - Srishti Collaborative (Source: Ananta Dutta)

Disciplinary Intersections

The program is informed by the following learning disciplines: