Professor Rahul Mehrotra’s Extreme Urbanism III studio explores possible interventions at the intersection between critical conservation and urban planning and design for Agra, India, an exemplar of contemporary urban challenges. At this moment, Loeb Fellows, studio students and students in the MDes Critical Conservation Program are in Agra conducting a close study of the conditions and opportunities that can propel the city forward toward a more sustainable future for its citizens, its historical treasures and its environment.
Agra is beset by high population growth, over-stressed and poorly managed ecosystems, loss of industry, inadequate financial and infrastructural investment and dense bureaucracies. Yet the Yamuna River landscape is the site of a layered cultural history as a Mughal, British colonial, and now Indian city, and has served functional, cultural and religious needs for hundreds of years. The revered Taj Mahal is only one of 45 Mughal gardens and monuments within a 4 mile span along the river.
With input from a wide range of governmental, academic and nongovernmental stakeholders, Loebs are assisting students to imagine cultural, infrastructure, economic, ecological and policy interventions that will rejuvenate the city and improve life for its farmers, craftspeople and urban poor.
The studio is supported by funding from the World Monuments Fund and by Harvard’s Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture and South Asia Institute, the Agra Development Authority and the Archaeological Survey of India, Agra Circle.