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The UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” - Marcus Garvey

Zari workers in Commercial Street, Bangalore – part of the Interlude held every year in December at Srishti. PC: Srishti Faculty


Dr. Geetha Narayanan 2016- ongoing; Dr Jyoti Hosgrahar 2014 -2016
  • Lead for Bidar Heritage Centre Archives: Mr. Shreyas Srivatsa
  • Leads for Deccan Living Labs: Dr Geetha Narayanan and Mr. Shreyas Srivatsa
  • Leads for Disaster Management in Heritage Regions: Dr Geetha Narayana, Mr. Narendra Raghunath and Ms. Ranjani Balasubramanian


The UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development in India was established at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in 2014. Nominated by the Government of India at the national level, the status of UNESCO Chair was granted by the UNESCO General Assembly. The UNESCO Chair is established in cooperation with UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention 1972.

The UNESCO Chair in Culture, Habitat, and Sustainable Development is an institutional research-based initiative with the agenda to promote the safeguarding and management of tangible and intangible cultural heritage as well as promote cultural diversity.

It aligns itself with the following UNSECO conventions and frameworks:

The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005;

UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape 2011;

The UN Sustainable Development Goals;

The Culture for the 2030 Agenda

The UNESCO Chair has identified five major focus regions within India for research and engagement

  • Bengaluru metropolitan (Bangalore City)
  • Hoysala region (region that includes the historic towns of Halebidu and Belur that are
    on India's Tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage)
  • Deccani region (region that includes the historic towns of Bidar, Gulbarga, Badami,
    and Bijapur that are on India's Tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage)
  • Coastal Karnataka (this includes the natural heritage of the coast as well as numerous
    historic towns along the coast)
  • The Western Ghats (this includes natural heritage already inscribed on the UNESCO
    World Heritage List as well as the settlements in and around it)

Ongoing Research

The activities of the UNESCO Chair at Srishti, are focused towards identifying and strengthening the interconnections between the tangible and the intangible, as well as between creative practices in and around settlements and historic sites. The Chair intends to conceive and engage with innovative, inclusive and sustainable design strategies that will allow for the protection of cultural and environmental heritage in urban and peri-urban landscapes.

A session on history of Bidar and Dakkhani region with Mr.Samad Bharti, local historian, teacher and resident in Old city of Bidar. PC: Shreays Srivatsa

Deccan Living Labs, a platform created jointly by UNESCO Chair at Sristhi and Team YUVAA in Bidar seeks to bring together learners from inter-disciplinary backgrounds. Since 2016 DLL has co-created more than 120 conceptual projects with a focus on socio-cultural aspects of Architecture, Culinary habits, Craft practices, historical social reform movements, Institutional histories, calligraphy traditions and so on. The UNESCO Chair in following the Human Rights Based Approach, seeks to acknowledge that the work produced by DLL is co-created and in collaboration between local communities and Srishti students.

Disaster Management in Heritage Regions: the UNESCO Chair at Srishti has spearheaded community-based initiatives that focus on Disaster Management, resilience and sustainable development strategies in identified heritage area of Western Ghats. Projects undertaken and outcomes include:

  • Documentation of narratives of people affected by floods in Kerala and Kodagu; used narratives to inform resilient and environmentally sensitive design
  • Post disaster mapping of losses, resources and community needs in disaster hit areas of Wayanad, Kerala; outcomes generated include design research for disaster resilience in the areas of Land & Livelihoods, Shelter & Habitat and Traditional Knowledge Systems

Student and faculty undertaking fieldwork. PC: Mahesh Bhatt


Bidar Heritage Centre Archives – an initiative developed by the UNSECO Chair at Srishti in collaboration with Team Yuva. Funded by former HKRDB – Hyderabad Karnataka Region Development Board (now Kalyana Karnataka Region Development Board). It is a digital publicly accessible archive of public histories, everyday objects, institutional legacy, community practices and subaltern histories of Bidar. The first phase of archiving completed comprises:

  • Police history in Bidar
  • Community narratives Historic documents
  • Artefacts and Maps from collectors

Place as text – Signature Pedagogy developed at Srishti

A pedagogy catering to an interdisciplinary student and faculty cohort, informed by place-based inquiry to understand how culture emerges out of learned human behaviour manifesting itself in the form of responses in places of inhabitance.


UNESCO Chair at Srishti hopes to engage with NGOs, community groups, local, regional and state level government actors in matters pertaining to historic cities, built heritages, intangible cultural practices, and ecologically sensitive areas. Some of the potential future projects for research and development include:

  • documenting work undertaken in disaster management and contributing toward disaster management strategies
  • undertaking detailed studies of revival of local cultural heritage practices and associated economies
  • development of site located pedagogical frameworks for research
  • Enquiries

    For more information about this lab, kindly email Vidhu Gandhi at