Friday, June 12, 2015

JIIA special issue on Universal Design published in March 2015: Compiled by Universal Design Centre BNCA.

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

The Universal Design Research and Training Centre established  at Dr. B .N. College of Architecture, Pune celebrated its first year anniversary by conducting a 2 day seminar on 'Inclusive Research- A catalyst for social change', organised by Prof. Kavita Murugkar.

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


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."

IIA Teachers Award 2014 presented to Prof. Kavita Murugkar

Thursday, August 7, 2014

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

NCPEDP MPHASIS Universal Design Awards 2014
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.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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

Like last year, BNCA team of students mentored by Prof. Kavita Murugkar 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 Sites. BNCA 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.

“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 discussionThe 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 :

Thursday, February 13, 2014




To Promote Inclusion by Design

Inaugurated at the hands of the Chief Guests

Dr. Abir Mullick 
Provost, Navrachana University, Baroda
Dr. Rachana Khare
School of Planning & Architecture, Bhopal

Friday, 14th of February 2014
Venue: BNCA Courtyard
Time: 2.00 to 3.00 pm
Dr.Abir Mullick released the Centre Information leaflet
The Inaugural venue and audience - BNCA courtyard, experts, faculty, students and invitees
 Inception of UDC at BNCA begins with the lamp lighting ceremony

Prof.S Balaram and Dr.Gaurav Raheja sharing his thoughts at the event
Dr.Abir Mullick publishing the blog-spot -

Do visit it and join us in making a more INCLUSIVE WORLD !

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Student's testimonial and responses on starting a UD centre at BNCA


Getting to learn through the principle objective of the elective, it became a guideline towards a complete(holistic) design approach that depicts supreme sensitivity towards the user. The elective brought forward the process of designing correctly. It is like a habit that's introduced. You don’t have an option to follow it or not, you just adopt it as it is.

ABOUT BNCA's UD DEPARTMENT: To be able to deliver a complete design, without preferential biases towards users while using design elements, is a great way of being brought up in a design school. And setting up a department for this cause is a great initiative towards sensitive designing. To be able to access this resource at college level is a great opportunity for students. And as a full fledged department it is a great way of spreading awareness and promoting not just design sensitivity but also re-define design habits in the long run.


Having studied Universal Design as an Elective for one semester and worked for Universal design Competition for exploring World Heritage Sites in India hosted by SPA, Bhopal under the guidance of Prof. Kavita Murugkar have immensely exposed me to the term “Universal Design” and need for the same. Most important thing I have learnt is “Consider the needs of the broadest possible range of users from the very beginning”. The basic knowledge and quest to learn more about it helped me to get into Paul Menton Disability Centre as a Tutor during my Canada exchange programme at Carleton University, Ottawa. Learning Universal Design elective, interacting with varied users and disabilities have benefited me immensely in overall confidence building and design approach, altogether changing my vision.
There is a need to understand as a population, is that Universal design efforts benefit people who are not disabled, as well as those who are.Removing barriers to access provides a benefit that will likely improve user experiences for everyone. Starting this Centre at BNCA would act as a strong initiative to expose young minds and even train local people creating the awareness in this field and making a difference to the society.


Accessible,Adaptable,Affordable,and Attractive –are 4 words around which the whole concept of Universal design rotates. I was introduced to this subject as ‘INFINITY’ of explorations. Acknowledging, Universal Design, has helped me renew my vision of looking at a people, not just Design. It helps you become more sensitive to the needs your society (users). 

A Universal Design centre, in BNCA Pune will be taking a great social responsibility, which will bring about awareness and discover and develop a whole new meaning for the city and its people.   


When I chose Universal Design as my elective, I was not totally aware of the scope it had and the various factors and principles it catered to. I just had one thought in mind which was easy accessibility means for specially abled people. After learning this subject, I was introduced to a broader aspect of it. The introduction itself was so good that it made me keen on learning it in depth. It was not just accessibility as a single factor to be considered but a lot more.

Not just in architecture, but UD plays a very vital role in every other field too. Be it product design, furniture design, UD makes it possible for us to understand and learn that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’. Every user is different and so are their needs and demands. Learning all the principles in UD as well as doing the simulation exercise (being blindfolded and walking and manoeuvering the wheelchair) has given me a lot of knowledge and thus made more sensitive in approaching a design as well as in normal life. Just providing a ramp at the entrance is not UD. It has a wider scope; each person with any special ability should be able to access each and every space in the design. This gives us a challenge to make our designs such that every user has a different yet easy access and enjoys the space. 
The idea of starting this centre in the leadership of Kavita ma’am is very interesting. Under her efficient guidance, we were introduced to various aspects of UD and those are truly helpful. I feel this centre will surely be a huge success and helpful for all the students. I wish to be a part of the same so that I am of some help for making our surroundings a better place to live.

Selecting Universal Design as an elective turned out to be a great decision.  Prof. Kavita Murugkar conducted Lectures, Guest Lectures, Simulation Programs and many Site Visits. After being a part of all these exercises, I definitely evolved into a more sensitive individual and a better designer. 
Universal Design was more than just an elective in less than a week and I started implementing the principles into Architectural Design, Construction Techniques and many more subjects. In my opinion, this knowledge must be shared with all. Universal Design shouldn’t be taught as an optional subject. A Centre for Universal Design would be a great start to share, learn and implement these principles. Universal Design isn’t just the need of the hour. It will always play an important role in our society. 
As a School of Architecture, we must take this initiative where not just students and professors but citizens can learn and relate too. We must surely have a Centre for Universal Design in our College.


As a student of architecture, I’ve often come across the phrase “ we design for people “. Its only after I took up this course that I realized a greater depth to this phrase and I became more aware of the problems that people face on a day to day basis. This course has not only helped me become a more sensitive architect but also a better human being. 
Unfortunately, these specially abled people feel discriminated in our society. Thus, by creating inclusive design solutions, I aspire to change this mindset of the general public.
I am really grateful to Kavita Murugkar Maa’m that she shared her knowledge about Universal Design with us and that she's taking this initiative to make many more people aware and sensitive.


Before choosing universal design as an elective, to me “universal design” as a term was only related to designing for the disabilities, but  after choosing as my elective topic and the urge to explore the subject more it has changed its meaning. Universal design in architecture, where design features intended for individuals with disabilities but have unexpected benefits for the general population. The  journey of learning universal design has taught me a various aspects which are required to design a building or a product, which were unknowingly ignored in my early years of learning. It has changed my vision of analysing, understanding, and designing for a particular concern. Designing universally is not a addition to the structure, but it a whole part of the design.

On the beginning of UD centre  
As a student I was introduced to this subject in my fourth year, it has changed a lot in my designing process, and has developed a different skill set in designing. If this could taught and included in a students learning process from stage one, it would definitely make a change. Starting a centre would create an urge to learn and explore the term more in the students, This centre will give opportunity and give a platform to students by having hands-on experience through workshops and lectures. This will definitely be benefit for all and this centre would give a beginning to a major concern, and this initiative would definitely make change to a large mass of people. 


For an Architecture student, the major task to design his/her structure is not only to make it aesthetical or dynamic, but to make it accessible for any and every individual. My objective to choose Universal design as an elective was to study the kind of barriers as well as to find a logical solution to tackle the same.
After performing various exercises like simulation, studying the different learning styles in a student and several site visits as a part of universal design, has benefited me not just as a student but as a designer to identify and interact with several users and resolve my design in terms of making it barrier free and accessible to majority of the end users.
An initiative to start with a Centre for Universal Design, is going to benefit a major group of students, by making them aware of this particular concept of creating a barrier free environment and an opportunity to be a part of various workshops, lecture series and seminars by many of the eminent practicing architects in this field.
I am glad and find myself lucky to have studied this subject and would love to be a part of this initiative taken by the faculty of our institution.  


We studied Universal Design as our design elective in our 7th semester. The main aim is to guide a wide range of design principles including environments, products and communications.
The introduction of seven principles helped us to enhance our design and evaluate existing  or new designs, guide the design process and ultimately benefit the user.
In order to understand the barriers faced by disabled people, we conducted simulation, interviewed various disabled people and also studies various case examples .It has changed my vision to look at the surrounding environment in order to make it barrier free.
The start of 'The centre for Universal Design' is a good way to make people aware of the need to enhance the importance to make the surrounding easily accesible. Introduction through  various presentations, guest lectures, seminars this center will help learners and will create a platform to discuss their ideas with one another.May this centre be an initiative to introduce universal design to young minds.


Univeral Design, not only recognizes and values but also attempts to accommodate broadest spectrum of the human ability to use the different availability of spaces and products.
As a student of architecture it helps to find sensitive design solutions so that the user group can easily carry out their daily activities and gives a broader perspective to interact with different user groups. Thus, Universal Design is design for all and everyone is benefitted. Starting such an activity would help the students in becoming sensitive designers and would increase their ability to think for a better future. Also it would help the users to widen their views regarding usability of the space.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Upcoming Event : National Round Table on Future of Universal Design in India

Under guidance of Prof.Abir Mullick, a renowned expert of Universal Design from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA and with the support of IUCAA,
BNCA is taking the first step towards mainstreaming UD in India, by organizing a daylong National roundtable meeting on the subject   - THE FUTURE OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN IN INDIA at Pune.
This roundtable meeting aims to outline and develop a national agenda for Universal Design India, so that all UD initiatives across the country can work towards common goals with synergy between all efforts.
The meeting is scheduled on Saturday, 15th of February at the IUCAA campus inside University of Pune.
Eminent experts, researchers and strong proponents of Universal Design working from various parts of the country have been invited by Prof. Kavita Murugkar, Head of the UD centre at BNCA, for this meeting, namely

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

Shivani Gupta, 
AccessAbility, New Delhi

BNCA invites local NGO's to participate in Christmas Mela

Christmas was celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and cheer at BNCA this year! A colourful mela was organised in the campus by the students where stalls of handcrafted products and handmade food items were put up for sale. As a social initiative, two local NGO's namely Sai Baba home for aged blind and The blind girl's training centre were invited to put up stalls of their in-house products. The products displayed by them included hand woven plastic baskets, key chains, candles, purses etc. These wonderful products made by the visually impaired inmates of the NGO's, were in great demand and also inspired the young students immensely !

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.

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 !