M.Des. in Public Space Design


Program Description

Participatory action research for solid waste management at Gubbi - Karnataka


Public spaces are interior and exterior spaces, as well as permanent and impermanent spaces, for movement and passage; encounter and exchange; as well as entertainment and leisure. These spaces go beyond the physical and into the realms of the virtual, social, cultural, and emotional. In India, where tradition and modernity coexist in layered complexity, these spaces include streets and pavements; parks, maidans, and bagaans; railway stations and metro stations; shopping malls and bazaars; exhibitions, museums and gallery spaces. Indian cities face the constant struggle to design, maintain and improve the inhabitation of public spaces and their qualities, not just in urban areas but also in peri-urban areas. A successful and liveable city, therefore, needs to have a network of well-designed and inclusive public spaces.

The Program in Public Space Design at Srishti fosters the values of empathy, sustainability, adaptability, and inclusivity. It exposes students to the complex interactions between spatial design, systems design, law, policy, and governance through a critical engagement with people, places, policy, and theory. The program engages with real-life projects developed in collaboration with NGO’s, government agencies, industry and other stakeholders in a studio format to cultivate a deep and rigorous understanding of context, systems, processes and their interactions with space. This leads to an informed and reflective practice that is alive to debates, contradictions, and possibilities in the field.

Key Values

Postgraduates in Public space design are evolutionists at heart and imbibe these core values:

  • Empathetic – As public space designers we value the “other” over the “self”. Design at Srishti is informed through putting oneself in the other’s shoes and by having empathy towards all.
  • Inclusive – We ensure that the spaces we design are inclusive, just and accessible to all.
  • Sustainable – We strive towards sustainable place making that balances ecological, community and economic concerns.
  • Adaptable – We are adaptable to the ever-changing contexts and ensure our designs are resilient to changing social and environmental needs and issues.

Working with craftspeople at Channapatna during the LeNSin pilot course held at Srishti.

Course Structure

  1. Studios encourage active, contextual learning where students develop core disciplinary skills and knowledge. Studios facilitate collaborative and creative design solutions to complex, open-ended problems
  2. Workshops provide intense learning experiences in making and doing, across the different disciplines.
  3. Internship with an industry or a design studio is compulsory for students at the end of 1st year
  4. Self Initiated Project is an end of the semester challenge that allows the student to engage in research/inquiry or design based projects. Students begin by writing their project proposal and defining the scope of their project and they are mentored by faculty/design professionals.
  5. Electives are liberal arts courses aimed to cultivate intellectual and reflective abilities in students and motivate them to probe deeper and approach their design process in a holistic manner.
  6. Capstone Project is the culmination of the research, capabilities, and knowledge gained over the last three semesters. Students are required to submit their design output and a mandated thesis document. Students are mentored during this final project and go through seminars to get feedback from faculty and peer groups

Learning Approach

Learning is driven by engagement with theory/discourse, reflective practice and real world experience. This approach allows for a comprehensive exposure to possibilities across the world and creates an awareness of the contemporary context.

Students on a field trip in the Banni Grasslands of Kutch, Photo Courtesy: School of Foudation and Prepatory Studies.

Program learning components include:

  • A theoretical and conceptual knowledge of approaches to public space design, current issues and discourses across the world
  • Using design thinking tools to research the context, analyze and synthesize and conceptualize a solution.
  • Understanding of methods and tools of comprehensive studies in project and/or discourse in public space design
  • Collaboration among peers, practitioners and the community.
  • Using live projects/opportunities to create and test interventions/participatory design in community spaces.

Capability sets

On successful completion of the course, graduates will have the following capabilities:


  • Examine and engage in systematic enquiry of cultural, political, environmental and historical uniqueness of place and complexity of contexts
  • Identify what is to be known in multifaceted contexts and suitably adapt discipline specific knowledge for problem solving.
  • Critique constraints, question assumptions and limitations; think independently and strive for deeper engagement in the area of knowledge.

Entrepreneurial leader

  • Design, engage and manage safe, sustainable and layered engagements for people, with public space.
  • Ability to understand, analyze and synthesize information, select and use appropriate methods of research & communication.


  • Identify, explore, experiment with real and conceptual frameworks and develop innovative practice.
  • Make informed choices and expand ideas of art, design, policy and sustainability to make their own practice more informed and enriched.

Global Citizen

  • Use a participatory approach to engage with communities and effectively communicate their views to a wide range of audiences.
  • Be sensitive towards regional perspectives, respect diversity and help design for just and inclusive communities.

Presentation by Faculty from UAM Mexico


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


For further information, kindly email Mary Jacob Kuruvilla at maryjacob@srishti.ac.in or Ranjani Balasubramanian at ranjani.b@srishti.ac.in

Last updated Jan 2019

About the School

Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology is a non-residential institution founded in 1996 by the Ujwal Trust with the objective of providing art and design education in an environment of creat ... Read More

Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology is a non-residential institution founded in 1996 by the Ujwal Trust with the objective of providing art and design education in an environment of creativity to maximize the individual’s potential.The Ujwal Trust also manages Srishti's sister institution, the prestigious Mallya Aditi International School. Read less