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Public Space Design

The Public realm is the connective tissue of our everyday world. It is made of those pieces of terrain left between the private holdings. - James Howard Kunstler

Students creating study models to understand the effects of climate on interior spaces in a building.


Public spaces whether interior or exterior, offer a stage for the collective in a world that is becoming increasingly individualistic. These spaces can be defined as publicly owned spaces that, in theory, are open and accessible to all members of a given community - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, or socio-economic level.

These spaces may be planned or unplanned, temporary or permanent and expansive or intimate; ranging from chai stalls, bazaars, public squares, exhibition spaces, retail spaces, public libraries and places of mass transit, to mention a few. Key aspects of a successful public space include safety, inclusivity and enhanced opportunities for participation in community and civic life. This program at Srishti, investigates and engages with the complexity and diversity of public space requirements that are constantly being shaped by changes in technologies, social structures, demographics and many more.

An experiential and theoretical understanding of exterior and interior public spaces allows practitioners to engage with layers of scale and complexity. The Public Space Design program, cultivates a capacity to draw from diverse fields of knowledge, contextualize and develop creative visions for inclusive and sensitive interventions.

We foster empathetic designers/artists who explore and experiment with the ideas of participation, ownership and empowerment in community spaces.

Documentation of an Empathy Walk done during the studio “Design for All” Photo source- Sonya Varghese.

Key Values

The graduate in Public Space design is deeply humanist and has the following values, which locate individual experience at center stage: Sustainability, Inclusivity, Empathy, and Adaptability

A Process Diagram for a Design intervention in a neighborhood park.

Course Structure

The curriculum comprises of different ways of learning as follows:

  1. Foundation introduces students to basic principles and tools of Art, Design and Technology as methods, tools and processes
  2. Disciplinary Studios are learning spaces where students develop core disciplinary capabilities, while navigating a trans-disciplinary environment
  3. General Studies: A common and compulsory programme of study that integrates Humanities, Sciences, Development and Policy Studies and also offers Languages-English, Indian- Hindi and Kannada as well as Foreign (Spanish, French and German)
    Click here to read more about the General Studies Program >>
  4. Interim: An introduction to practice in new and emerging areas of art and design
  5. Electives: Of three kinds- this program allows students to expand their skills, develop the interests as well as provide opportunities for travel exchange
  6. Internship/Apprenticeship: Compulsory work experience done over the summer-break between the 6th and 7th semester
  7. Project involves the application, synthesis and demonstration of capabilities acquired, and is a qualifier to the thesis
  8. Thesis is culmination of the 4-year program, which allows for demonstration of an integration of values, positions, capabilities and practice.

A student explaining her project through working prototypes/models.

Learning Approach

Learning is driven by experience, experimentation and reflection. This practice based approach allows engagement with contemporary public space building opportunities to learn from it, identify what is missing and design with a vision for the future. Learning happens through:

  • Collaboration among peers, practitioners and the community.
  • A theoretical and practical knowledge of design fundamentals, aesthetics, anthropometrics, systems, services , universal design and sustainability.
  • Design thinking tools to research the context, analyze and synthesize and conceptualize a solution.
  • Hands on design and build interventions in public space that may include art, furniture, interactive installations.

Students experimenting with models to analyse shadows in spaces.

Capability Sets

Learning to Know

  1. Understand complexity; identify uniqueness of contexts and design with the local and practical in mind.
  2. Identify what is to be known in multifaceted contexts and develop a more integrated and comprehensive approach to design.
  3. Think, understand and creatively work with materials, services and systems.

Learning to Do

  1. Understand, research, gather knowledge and use appropriate principles of art, design, design thinking tools and processes.
  2. Effectively visualize, communicate and represent ideas, concepts of space design to a larger audience.
  3. Give shape and form to ideas and concepts, make, prototype and intervene.

Learning to Be

  1. Immerse and engage with complex contexts or problems and respond with curiosity and awareness.
  2. Constantly grow and expand ideas of art, design, policy and sustainability to make their own practice more informed and enriched.
  3. Ability to, work in professional environments with integrity and competence.

Learning to Live Together

  1. Interact and collaborate with communities to understand and design for their needs and well being.
  2. Engage with peers and current issues to develop informed visions and mindful expressions for public space design projects.
  3. Observe the other, through a process of keen observation and empathy.


  • Employment in creative industries such as architecture, landscape design, interiors and urban design
  • Employment in NGOs & social enterprises working in the urban or rural sector.
  • Graduates can become contemporary design practitioner, entrepreneur, design consultant
  • Graduates could work with and have an active involvement in emerging domains such as public policy making, public space design and planning.

Disciplinary Intersections

The program is informed by the following learning disciplines:

Human Centered Design
Product and Interface Design
Furniture design
Landscape Design
Social Theory