Practice Areas

Since 2009, Practice at IIHS has undertaken work on various domains. Most projects undertaken are largely interdisciplinary and cut across more than one domain. The teams also include members from the Research, Urban Practitioners Programme and various labs including the Design lab, Geo-spatial lab, Media Lab, Word Lab and the Urban Informatics Lab. The key domain can be broadly categorised:  


1. Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation6. Housing
2. Urban Risk and Resilience7. Architecture, Spatial Design and Heritage
3. Water, Sanitation and Environmental Services8. Land Governance and Management
4. Energy9. Regional and Economic Development
5. Planning10. Sustainable Urban Development

Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

Climate change is one of the defining existential and development challenges of our time. Indian cities are amongst the most vulnerable to climate impacts with millions of people at risk.


IIHS is building cutting-edge scientific, policy and implementation capacity to address climate challenges in India, South Asia and across the globe, building on seminal research and policy engagement. This area of practice is directly aligned with the School of Environment and Sustainability. 


Team Members:

Harpreet Kaur
Greeshma Hegde
Kenrick Neagle Mascarenhas
Soundarya Iyer
Natasha Koshy
Andaleeb Rahman
Kavya Michael
Atreyee Bhattacharya
Arindam Jana

Urban Risk and Resilience

At IIHS, urban risk is understood as a nexus of vulnerability, hazard exposure and lack of capacity to cope in a context of complex and contested urban areas that are further exacerbated by climatic impacts. IIHS has been providing strategic and cross-cutting advisory, policy directions, post-disaster damage assessments, and impact evaluations in South Asia and across other global south context towards building urban resilience and reducing risk. Resilience is an emergent concept in global discourses, and is still nascent in the context of Indian planning. Recent months have seen significant growth in practice work in the areas of climate change and disaster risk reduction but not so much with the aim of building resilience in urban systems and overall sustainable development. These strategies can relate to a range of urban systems including but not limited to solid waste management systems, environmental systems and services, water supply systems, disaster management systems, health systems, shelter (or housing), energy and transport systems. In concept, ‘resilience’ is trying to bring to the fore the idea of risk reduction – risk arising out of hazard exposure, exacerbated by climate change and extensive risks due to mal-development – and increasing capabilities of systems and communities to cope with these risks. IIHS practice area on Urban Resilience broadly includes work on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation for sustainable development and building capacities. This area of practice is directly aligned with the School of Environment and Sustainability, and the School of Human Development, and works closely across all other Schools at IIHS.


Team Members:

Sumetee Pahwa Gajjar
Greeshma Hegde
Chandni Singh

Water, Sanitation and Environmental Services

Current IIHS practice on the environmental services focuses on a range of issues such as water supply, sanitation and integrated basic environmental services. Practitioners have also been exploring notions of common property and shared natural resources, environmental governance, issues of water supply and management, and the provision of water and sanitation services to urban populations, especially the urban poor. Projects have also included the evaluations of national and state programmes and policies from a sustainability perspective as well as large scale implementation support partnerships. This area of practice is directly aligned with the School of Urban Systems and Infrastructure, and the School of Human Development.


Team Members:


In this domain, the focus is on building a comprehensive understanding of urban energy transitions, while ensuring that the analytical framework tangibly connects with national and regional energy policy. Very little systematic work exists in the urban energy space – ranging from energy accounting, energy transitions to large-scale energy planning for the future and IIHS aims to contribute in this space. Our current focus is on unpacking the underlying factors and drivers (including the political economy of development) that are shaping regional and sub-regional energy policy in India, more so in the context of Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework. Finally, energy and linked climate mitigation analysis, at urban scale, within the IPCC publication framework will be an intended major body of work where the team aims to contribute. It is noteworthy to understand that city-scale analysis that clearly identifies energy and climate mitigation linkages, particularly in the context of the Paris Accord is yet to gain momentum and this work will help fill this critical gap, in two specific contexts: solutions space and achieving the aspirational 1.5 deg C global temperature target. This area of practice is directly aligned with the School of Urban Systems and Infrastructure.


Some of the past and present projects include: analytical work as a part of Urban Policy Dialogue 2015, in which a methodological assessment of energy transitions in India was made and a detailed analysis around household energy consumption patterns was undertaken. As a part of the Urban Policy Dialogue 2016, we undertook an analysis in the context of understanding implementation and operational challenges within the framework of Sustainable Development Goal 7, particularly related to the urban energy transitions. In addition to this, Energy and Climate change linkages were explored through the Bengaluru Urban Diagnostics Report (CDKN) and an analytical book chapter (Cities on a Finite Planet). Some of the initial foundational work has been initiated, particularly in the domain of energy planning for cities; with IIHS BCC being developed as a live laboratory for understanding energy consumption patterns in the built commercial space.


We are presently initiating a British Academy (Cities and Infrastructure Program: C&I 2017) funded research project on “Energy innovation for low-cost housing in India and South Africa: strategies for inter-disciplinary and cross-institutional dialogue”, in collaboration with University of Cambridge, UK and the Energy Research Center, University of Cape Town, South Africa. This research aims to explore how low-income communities, private energy entrepreneurs and government (at various scales) work in contestation and collaboration to devise and deliver affordable domestic energy that meets the long -term needs and aspirations of low-income households in two rapidly urbanising cities, Bengaluru (India) and Cape Town (South Africa).


Team Members:
Amir Bazaz

Kenrick Neagle Mascarenhas


Planning broadly includes but is not limited to spatial/ master planning at different scales including ward, zone, city, district, region, etc. and development management across these scales. While there is potentially a large market for conventional planning projects, IIHS contributes selectively to this area of work, in order to bring in interdisciplinary practices to planning. Given the relatively outdated planning frameworks in the country, the real potential for transformation lies in redeveloping and integrating some of these frameworks including improvement of plans envisaged under the new urban flagship programmes. This domain of practice is directly aligned with the School of Urban Systems and Infrastructure


Team Members:
Geetika Anand

Swastik Harish

Gautam Bhan

Sudeshna Mitra


Practice in IIHS in the areas of Housing focuses on affordable and adequate housing, particularly through the lens of housing policy. Within this, the work of IIHS approaches questions of housing across disciplines and sectors reading it along with land, tenure, services, built form and materials, quality of housing, identity and capacities of communities and other stakeholders. The Housing team at IIHS converges experts in social science, architecture, planning, community organisers, finance, governance and climate change to develop such interdisciplinary approaches to housing practice and policy. This area of practice is directly aligned with the School of Urban Systems and Infrastructure and, in keeping with our view of housing as a key public good, the School of Human Development.


Team Members:

Architecture, Spatial Design and Heritage

Spatial Design practice at IIHS explores the intersection of development sector and architecture, with an aim to enhance developmental outcomes through informed and context-sensitive design. The Design Lab at IIHS hosts architects, planners, project managers as well as product, exhibition and retail designers who work with clients and partners in the public and development finance sectors to address questions on evidence based design, aesthetics, sustainability, feasibility, and procurement processes for interventions in public health, heritage planning, education, services, and other development sector endeavors. This area of practice is directly aligned with the School of Urban Systems and Infrastructure.


Team Members:
Swastik Harish

Amol Mangrulkar

Avinash Madhawaraj

Land Governance and Management

Land Governance and Management is a comprehensive exploration of the institutional, legal, managerial, political-economic, and socio- cultural aspects related to various facets of land governance, in urban, peri-urban and in select rural regions of India. These include questions of land information systems and modernisation of land records within a very complex array of issues pertaining to land tenure and settlement, land related entitlements, land acquisition, R&R and land pooling issues; change of land use questions, transitions from rural to urban, debates around titling, the political economy of real estate, property rights related; institutional analysis along thematics and other associated questions. A strategic overview of land governance and management cannot be oblivious to historical and socio-cultural issues of land, and their impact on the prevailing and proposed land governance systems in the country within the federal constitutional framework in India.


Practice on governance and public policy at IIHS spans a wide range.  IIHS has provided evidence based policy analysis on different aspects of the governance of land: its acquisition, development, regulations, records, and transfer. There is also ongoing work that examines urban governance across different scales, with a particular focus on institutions. Another area of interest is environmental governance. IIHS is also exploring interlinkages between governance systems at different scales in the Indian context and also globally. This domain of practice is directly aligned with the School of Governance and Public Policy, and the School of Economic Development.


Team Members:

Regional and Economic Development

Achieving balanced regional development has been an important policy priority for the Indian state since Independence, and continues to hold relevance today as regional inequality continues to widen. Carrying out quantitative and geo-spatial analysis on questions of regional equity, economic geography, infrastructure access, and climatic risks, IIHS has also worked with multilateral agencies and provided strategic advisory services to various state governments across the country to achieve their regional development priorities. This area of practice is directly aligned with the School of Governance and Public Policy, and the School of Economic Development.


Team Members:

Aromar Revi

Shriya Anand

Teja Malladi

Arindam Jana

Jyothi Koduganthi

Sarat Chandra Gnanamgari

Sivakumar DK

Priyadarshini Shetty

Sashikala Gowda

Ravi Chopra

Geetika Anand

Sudeshna Mitra

Mohan Raju JS

Sustainable Urban Development

Traditionally, the links between environment and urban have not been recognised. However, more recently, global discourses have recognised the centrality of urban areas in addressing environmental concerns (climate change and local air pollution) as well as building economic development that is equitable and inclusive. There is an urgent need to integrate urban perspectives into environmental issues, and also mainstream environmental concerns in urban policy, governance and planning. This involves knowledge generation, creating platforms for discussion among stakeholders, building capacity for existing organisations, and also influencing agendas of critical institutions. Apart from cross-sectoral work, other areas include water-food-energy security, urbanisation patterns and urban growth, peri-urban and rural-urban transitions.


IIHS has been deeply engaged with the processes related  to the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the place-based goal for cities. Working within the premise of complex urban systems, IIHS examines cross-linkages between the questions of equity, productivity, inclusion, safety and resilience through traditional debates on water supply and management, sanitation, governance, and housing. There is a close engagement with the national debates on governance and public policy as well as global work on environmental issues such as climate change. This area of practice cuts across all Schools at IIHS.


Team Members:

Sumetee Pahwa Gajjar

Jyoti Koduganti

Ana Abbas


The impact of drought in
Latur Region, Maharashtra

Resilience Planning:
The Kashmir Deluge

Water and Environmental Services:
From hand-pump to tanker

Land Record Management – Aligarh