Project: The Future Ground

Supriya Krishnan is an urban planner and architect who wants to transform the way cities think about integrating climate goals into long-term planning strategies. She is currently completing her doctoral research on urban planning and climate uncertainty, where she uses the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) case. She is developing an urban land-use model to simulate future growth for the MMR and test the impacts of climate change to find pathways for a resilient future. The research involves extensive interviews, scenario building, and consultation with technical experts who contribute to the city’s planning process. The final goal of the study is to develop a Resilient Urban Growth Roadmap for Mumbai that can directly inform the Regional Plan and Development Plan for Mumbai. Supriya’s research has been recognized and is supported by fellowships from the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and the TU Delft Global Initiative. She has previously worked on knowledge building, policy-making, and advocacy for infrastructure resilience, disaster risk reduction, and planning with UNDRR, National Disaster Management Authority India, and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. Along with her research, she is a guest lecturer at TU Delft and has been a visiting faculty of architecture at Mumbai University.


'The Future Ground' is a 4-year Ph.D. research project where Supriya is developing a Resilient Urban Growth Roadmap framework for Mumbai. It is envisioned as an interface to visualize future land-use growth scenarios for Mumbai until 2050 and beyond. The objective is to provide visual and spatial evidence of how the city will grow over time and be impacted by climate change such that it can inform Mumbai's Development and Regional Planning processes. Mumbai is making significant efforts to improve urban services by investing in essential infrastructure projects such as ten metro lines, high-speed rail, monorail, a second airport, and several road refurbishment projects. The biggest threat is that all these investments are being made without accounting for intensifying future climate risks that will impact these assets.

There is a significant knowledge gap in not being able to see the bigger picture of growth and the risks associated with it. Not having an overview of compounding risks present a grave threat to any development initiative that the city may implement. Land use is an essential element of weaving together these different infrastructure projects with urban development. From a resilience perspective, how we guide urban land usage directly impacts an area's carrying capacity and ability to absorb climate impacts like extreme rainfall and heat waves. Understanding the long-term impact of climate on land use offers an essential path for better urban planning decisions. While Mumbai is often compared to cities in advanced economies, one forgets the city's geographic, socio-economic context, and historical growth responsible for its development. A mindful urban planning framework catered to Mumbai's specific requirements will be essential if we want to effectively transform the developing thinking processes under climate threats.


"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time." (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) I was born, raised, and educated in Mumbai as an architect and kickstarted my career here. My work and research in urban planning have allowed me to critically observe the evolution of Mumbai as a citizen and an urban planner. I have witnessed Mumbai's monsoons, heat, and associated infrastructure disruptions firsthand, including water inside our apartment in 2005. Very few places in the world match up to this urban complexity and strong social fabric that the city offers. Hence, a unique case where a culture of thinking about risks must be integrated into rapid urbanization processes. I am deeply motivated to use my skills to contribute to a culture of thinking about uncertain futures.

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