Universal Design elective students of BNCA conducted a detail

access audit of Pataleshwar caves and Shaniwar wada under

guidance of Prof Kavita Murugkar.

Universal Design elective students of BNCA conducted a detail access audit of Pataleshwar caves and Shaniwar wada under guidance of Prof. Kavita Murugkar. Pataleshwar Caves situated on the Jangli Maharaj road in the city of pune, is a unique and earliest examples of rock-cut architecture in maharashtra, built during the Rashtrakuta period. Shaniwar wada, is a Maratha period land fort, built by the Peshwas in the heart of the city. Both are national heritage monuments and maintained by ASI.

A special audit checklist to assess and record accessibility status of these heritage sites was used by the team. Apart from the checklist, physical mapping of barriers and visitor facilities was also done, to identify specific design and architectural issues related to accessibility.

The findings from the study show that there is very less accessibility for disabled visitors including elderly in both the heritage sites. The entrance, signages and foreground landscaping which are later additions are poorly designed and should be redesigned taking into consideration needs of all types of visitors.
Following students from the 4th year B Arch participated in this study – Vidita Mundada, Vinita Wagh, Meghna Majethiya, Megha Bilgi, Khushi Shah, Aditi Phadke, Shweta Sorte, Saee Pawar, Shalaka Sode, Pranali Agarwal.
Special appreciation for the students for their enthusiasm and rigour !




Students of Architecture make TOUCHING SLATES for visuallyimpaired students



80 students from 1st yr Architecture (C&D Div) at BNCA were engaged by the faculty team of Basic Design in an innovative hands on exercise of making TOUCHING SLATES using waste for the school going blind children. BNCA alumini Sneha Malani and collegues who run a project called KAHANI, guided the students to make the slates in the workshop studio. The slate has been developed by Mr.Arvind gupta. On successful completion, 50 such self made slates were presented to the blind students of a school in koregaon park, followed by an exciting story telling session. The blind students enjoyed working on the slates and within very less time could make wonderful shapes on it. It was amazing to see their creative imagination! This activity not only gave the students a practical experience of designing and making a product out of waste but also sensitized them towards the under priviledged children in the society and how design expertise can be put to use to foster their social inclusion.

STUDENTS VISIT ATHASHREE : A housing project for the elderly

people by Paranjpye Schemes.




Universal Design elective students made a half day tour to Athashree – a housing for senior citizens in pune. The objective of the study was to expose students to a casestudy designed keeping in mind the physical and psychological needs of the elderly people.


Designed by Ar. Radhika Vaidya, this special type of housing is barrier free with provision of ramps and railings in corridors to facilitate easy physical access. Some more highlights were anti-skid flooring, well lit passages, sliding doors for toilets and provision of resting points in the open spaces, which catered to the needs of the elderly. The apartment also had its own ambulance for emergency.
Students got to interact with some elderly people living in the scheme and they shared that thoughtfully designed buildings can make life very comfortable and safe for their age group. They also shared that if all housing projects were designed with an inclusive approach, everybody in the society would be benefitted.



Prof. Kavita Murugkar and two students – Nayan Sarda and Janhavi Bhave made an overwhelming visit to a blind home for aged women situated near dhayari in pune, to interact with the inmates and the caretakers about their routine activities, environmental issues they were facing and their physical needs. Through the interaction it was very evident that inspite of the vision loss, all the inmates were well acquainted to the physical surroundings of the blind home and were independently carrying out their daily chores. Infact some of the inmates travelled on their own by public transport and also went on pilgrimage tours atleast once a year.


STUDENTS VISIT SADHANA VILLAGE : A home for the mentally impaired



A registered charitable trust, Sadhana Village has been involved in the care and rehabilitation of adults with mental disabilities. Situated in the Kolwan valley, it is about 30 kms from Pune and is called Residential care centre for Special friends (SF’s). A group of 12 sociology elective students from BNCA visited this centre in february’13 and had a very enriching interaction with the inmates.
The caretakers informed the students about the centre and took them around the building. A structured daily routine and simply designed living spaces are basic needs of such a user group. As per Ranjana tai,a senior volunteer at the centre, complicated building layouts can confuse people with mental impairments and hence architects must design spaces which facilitate easy way finding. She shared that colours and pictures/graphics are very effective in enhancing legibility of spaces particularly for this user group. On interaction with the inmates, students learnt that open spaces like terraces and courtyards were some of the favourite hangout areas of the inmates.

STUDENTS VISIT MUKTANGAN : A De-addiction centre in Pune



A visit was organised for the Sociology elective students of BNCA to Muktangan, a rehabilitation centre and day care for the drug addicted. The building housing the centre has been designed by Ar.Shirish Beri and is well known as an example of architecture that catalyses the process of healing by providing physical comfort, security and emotional relief. The students did a thorough study of the users, the individual and group activities and the spaces provided for facilitating these activities. The objective of the visit was to expose students to spaces for reformation and correction. 
The architect has attempted to create fluid, visually connected and congregational spaces to help the patients to come out of depression, socialize and recover fast. Students learnt through this visit that SPACES CAN HEAL TOO !

Heritage walk conducted for visually impaired students to

mark World Disability Day


BNCA team organized the first of it’s kind HERITAGE WALK in the city especially designed for the visually impaired students of a Pune based NGO called Niwant ran by Smt. Meera Badwe.
This initiative was to observe the World Disability Day usually celebrated on the 3rd December every year. The heritage walk was conducted for a group of 15 visually impaired/ blind students on the 4th of December ’13 morning. This 3 hr walk was organized on the occasion of the World Disability Day. The students were guided through two important heritage buildings and national monuments namely Pataleshwar caves on J.M. Road and the Shanivar Wada.
Apart from the specially scripted oral explanation and guided tour , braille information  fliers and tactile (3D) maps were also used to make the experience as rich as possible. The braille flier gave information on the history and physical description of the heritage buildings, whereas the tactile maps and models helped the blind students to visualize the architectural plan, shape and features of the buildings by touch.
Prof. Kavita Murugkar conceptualized this activity and was assisted by Ar. Jui Tawade in conducting  the walk. Students namely Nayan Sarda, Aishwarya Dongre, Bhairavi Wagh, Janhvi Bhave, Vinita Wagh and Vinita Lulla volunteered to conduct this event.

IIA Teachers Award 2014 presented to Prof. Kavita Murugkar

NCPEDP-MPHASIS Universal Design Award 2014 to Prof. Kavita Murugkar

The National Center for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), in association with Access-Ability and Barrier-Break Technologies, recently announced the winners of the NCPEDP-MphasiS Universal Design Awards 2014. These awards, instituted in 2010, are given away every year in an effort to spread awareness on Universal Design and recognize the exemplary work and efforts of both individuals and institutions towards the cause of accessibility and ensuring a life of equality and dignity for people with disabilities in India in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology.

Universally, a universal design would be applicable and appealing to all regardless of age, ability or situation to almost everything. While this concept has been accepted and put into use in most developed nations, in India it is yet to catch up.

Prof. Kavita Murugkar has been selected as one of the recipients of the National Level NCPEDP-MPHASIS UNIVERSAL DESIGN AWARD 2014 this year. She will receive the award at the India International Centre, New Delhi on the 14th August’14 at the hands of Shri Shekhar Gupta, Vice Chairman & Editor-In-Chief, India Today Group for her work in the field of Universal Design in built environment and architecture.

She has also been the recipient of the Maharashtra State level AVISHKAR AWARD for best research project in humanities faculty in 2012 at the state level-inter university research competition. Her subject of research was Accessibility of people with disabilities in a heritage site.

BNCA team wins THIRD PRIZE at NSDC 2014 organised by SPA Bhopal

Like last year, BNCA team of students mentored by Prof. Kavita Murugkar, Director, DesignBridge Foundation participated in the NSDC 2014 – a National level students design competition organised by SPA Bhopal. The theme of the year was Universal Design for Piligrimage SitesBNCA team chose the site of Chaturshringi Temple, the oldest piligrimage site within pune city for the study and formulating the design proposal.
After the initial round of selection, BNCA team was shortlisted out of about 150 entries from colleges across the country. The team was invited to Bhopal for the final jury round from 1st to 3rd March’14. The final jury was in the form of oral presentations by the shortlisted teams and the judges were- Dr. Abir Mullick, Vice Chancellor of Navrachana University., Vadodara and Prof. A G K Menon, Chairman, INTACH (Delhi Chapter).
BNCA team bagged the third prize worth 20000 Rs. after a successful and highly appreciated presentation of their proposal which also included a walkthrough. The solutions proposed by the team were very practical, implementable and yet innovative and creative.
The names of the winning team of students are Meghana Majethiya, Annie Agarwal and Vinita Wagh.

Invitation as a speaker at International Conference of Universal Design And Development 2015

Prof. Kavita Murugkar was invited at the International Conference of Universal Design And Development, Coimbatore to speak on her research work ” Heritage sites as experienced by people with visual impairment.”

Invitation to talk at International Conference on Disability by JNU and CSSS

Prof. Kavita Murugkar was invited at International Conference on Disability by JNU and CSSS to talk on state disability issues in Architectural practice.

Her paper and presentation was titled “Disability in Architecture: A neglected phenomenon.”

JIIA special issue on Universal Design published in March 2015: Compiled by Prof. Kavita Murugkar, Director, DesignBridge Foundation

Prof. Kavita Murugkar was invited as the Guest Editor for compiling a JIIA – Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects- special issue on UNIVERSAL DESIGN.
The journal was published in the month of march and consists of 10 scholarly articles/ papers by academicians and
professionals practicing Universal Design in India.
This publication is one of the first of its kind on work done in the field of Universal Design in India and has been instrumental in sensitizing and raising awareness and knowledge about this subject in the architectural fraternity in India.

State level seminar on Inclusive Research

Prof. Kavita Murugkar, Director, DesignBridge Foundation, conducted a 2 day seminar on ‘Inclusive Research- A catalyst for social change’.

Focused on Inclusive Design, the seminar on Inclusive Research, first of it’s kind in the country, discussed social inclusion in design using a people-centric research approach.

An important design movement, Inclusive Design (also known as Universal design), is gaining significance with changing demographics and increasing stress on social justice. Inclusive Research informs the basis and creation of inclusive design in the built environment, and it takes into consideration issues related to human diversity, sensory perception, health, safety and social equity.

The Speakers invited at the seminar were:
Prof. Abir Mullick– Highlighted the importance of conducting front-end exercise in inclusive research, and through, case studies, introduced methods specially designed to conduct inclusive research.
Prof. Melanie Nind– Defined Inclusive research and identified the social contextual elements that have shaped it as an overarching concept in the move towards the democratisation of research.
Prof. S. Balaram– Shared the practicalities of barefoot approach for inclusive research, the working of this idea in the Indian context, problems encountered and possible ways of overcoming them.
Prof. Nilika Mehrotra– talked on foregrounding ethnography as a method to capture voices and felt needs of disabled people, also underlining ethical issues in disability research.
Prof.Kiran Shinde– Discussed the characteristics of participatory research, and processes and methods involved in participatory research.
Prof. Rachana Khare– Discussed the journey of the UD exploration based on research, from global to local, in an architectural design studio within the culturally diverse context of India, as revealed by a year-long project set in the riverside town of Ujjain.
Prof. Ram Gambhir– Educated about ethics in research with human subjects and practicalities of barefoot approach.
Prof. Abhijit Natu– Shared cases of home improvements for elderly persons by including them as part of the research to understand their needs and formulating specific suggestions for improving their homes

“TOWARDS AN INCLUSIVE CITY” – A Panel discussion on UD at the CONSTRO ’14

Pune is known internationally as a commercial, educational,industrial and IT hub and the seventh largest metropolitan city in India. The sudden growth has attracted huge floating population, which puts tremendous pressure on its limited resources and insufficient infrastructure, resulting into haphazard development and chaos across the city. Inadequate resources and poor planning affects everyone especially children, women, elderly and people with disabilities thus affecting overall quality of life. Universal Design approach in future planning and development of the city can help to considerably address this growing crisis and problems of social exclusion.

Taking opportunity of the visit by UD experts to Pune, BNCA’s UD cell conducted a panel discussion on Universal design in a city titled, “TOWARDS AN INCLUSIVE CITY…..DREAMS & REALITY” in joint collaboration with Pune Construction Engineering Research Foundation (PCERF)  at the country’s largest exhibition on Construction Industry – CONSTRO 2014, on Saturday,15th February, at the Agricultural grounds, Pune. 

Apart from the UD experts, local stakeholders (NGO’s & Govt.) were also invited for the panel discussion. The panel discussion was co-ordinated and moderated by Prof. Kavita Murugkar.

The experts and their respective topics of presentation were as follows –

Dr Abir Mullick – Inclusive Community
Prof.Balaram  – Inclusive Transport
Dr Rachana Khare – Inclusive Education
Dr Hemanti Banerjee – Inclusive Railway stations
Dr Gaurav Raheja – Inclusive Public spaces
Prof.Gaurab Kar – Inclusive Work
Prof.Sandeep Sankat – Inclusive Urban Housing
Ar.Radhika Vaidya – Inclusive Public buildings
Ms.Anita Iyer – Public Awareness and Sensitization

Universal Design National Round Table Meeting organized by BNCA

A daylong National Roundtable meeting was organised by BNCA’s UD cell on the issue of – The FUTURE OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN IN INDIA at IUCAA in the campus of University of Pune on the 15th February’14. The agenda for the daylong roundtable meeting was to outline and develop a national agenda for Universal Design in India, so all UD initiatives across the country can work towards common goals with synergy between all efforts.

The experts and researchers on Universal Design, who participated in the meeting were

Abir Mullick, 

Provost, Navrachana University, Vadodara

Balaram S., 
D J Academy of Design, Coimbatore

Rachna Khare, 
School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal 

Haimanti Banerjee, 
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

Gaurav Raheja, 
Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee

Gourab Kar, 
National Institute of Design, Paldi

Kavita Murugkar

B N College of Architecture, Pune

Through the focused discussion ISSUES, THOUGHTS, REFLECTIONS, PROBLEMS, FUTURE POSSIBILITIES related to Universal Design were addressed. Key topics were identified for action namely Information, Outreach, Research and Development, Policy, Enforcement, Practise, Application, Education and training, Technology and theory of Universal Design. Further detailing of each topic was done to identify the WHAT’S AND HOW’S related to implementation and development each one of them.

A charter will be formulated after further work on it by the team on THE ROAD MAP OF MAINSTREAMING UNIVERSAL DESIGN IN INDIA.

Find below some glimpses of the event :

Sensitization workshop for Architecture students with EKANSH

Prof. Kavita Murugkar, Dr.Abhijit Natu and Ar.Radhika Vaidya were invited as speakers and  to conduct a sensitization workshop for students at a –

2 day conference: ‘ONE’ – the Confluence – Beyond Disabilities, Infinite Possibilities

by a local NGO EKANSH run by Ms.Anita Iyer, on 13 December, organised to celebrate ‘World Disability Day’. The theme of the workshop was empowering People with disabilities through Architecture, and its objective was to sensitize architecture and design students towards creating universally designed barrier free environments.
About 60 students of architecture from different colleges in the city including 10 from BNCA participated in the same. The workshop included a small group activity where students were asked to present their ideas for designing a house for a differently abled individual. Students worked in groups and brainstormed on the possibilities of designing for individuals with varying physical and sensory attributes and abilities. After which, each group presented their ideas to the remaining groups one by one. It was amazing to see the way the students came up with innovative and inclusive designs keeping in mind the special needs of the users.
Thanks to EKANSH !