BUILDING INCLUSIVE CITIES #4
Featuring : Nidhi Gulati, Senior Director at Project for Public Spaces
Sulakshana Mahajan, Urban Planner
Yangbo Du, General Partner at Sustainable Development Investment Finance
Partnership for New York
Moderator : ElsaMarie DSilva , Red Dot Foundation
Prathima Manohar , The Urban Vision
On April 10, 2020, ElsaMarie DSilva and Prathima Manohar both alumni of Stanford Centre of
Democracy Development and Rule of Law’s (CDDRL) Leadership Network for Change hosted a webinar
on Building Inclusive Cities to explore the ideas for urbanism and role of public spaces in urban planning
Nidhi Gulati, Senior Director at Project for Public Spaces in New York, Sulakshana Mahajan, Urban
Planner in Mumbai , and Yangbo Du, General Partner at Sustainable Development Investment Finance
Partnership for New York, lent perspective to the discussion regarding different ideas o n the role of public
spaces in these times and highlighted how public spaces and the commons would change post the
The discussion highlights the following themes:
● Covid-19 has significantly altered urban life. It has restricted the movement of people in public
spaces who in turn are looking for community interaction in their private spaces making us realise
how important it is for us to see and hear people around us.
● Majority of public spaces are streets of which 80% of the space is given to automobiles. This is
restricting multi-functionality of streets.
● Streets are important in building a sense of community and are being underutilised, restraining
women and other vulnerable sections to use them.
● There are plentiful spaces which are not being used in the best possible ways. This puts light on
the issue of equity and accessibility.
● During Covid-19 everything has been taken online, putting technology at the centre. This has
impacted the mental and psychological well being of people.
● The past and present experience of pandemics has led us to think whether the disease shapes the
city or the city shapes the disease.
● The pandemic has highlighted the importance of stoops and balconies. It is important that we
realise the contribution of an individual’s private realm to the public realm in urban design.
● The real function of streets is to move people. Streets should be considered as connectors of
human fabric and not conduits, forcing us to revisit our ideas about mobility and curbside street