Go-GRID bootcamp begins in Pokhara
Designing Green, Resilient, Inclusive and human-centric infrastructure in the beautiful lakeside city
On 15th February 2023 – a warm sunny day in Pokhara – the Go-GRID program began with a simple objective: to promote design-thinking among urban planners, engineers, academics, sociologists and economists alike, contributing to the betterment of our local community.
Sudridh-NURP’s plan for a design-thinking course centered on green, resilient, and inclusive urban development has been in the works for since July 2022. The concept finally came to fruition on 30th January 2023 when the first introductory class was held online for participants from both Butwal and Pokhara. The session provided a brief introduction to the wider course objectives and on what to expect in the following four months – the entire run time of the Go-GRID programme.
Building on the introductory session, the first in-person Go-GRID workshop was successfully held in Pokhara from 15-17 February 2023. This workshop was designed to incorporate both presentation-based lectures and field exercises for participants to put their learning into practice. A total of 15 people – the majority of whom were women – attended the three-day workshop including professionals from the municipal government, the private sector and academia.
During the first day, members of the Sudridh-NURP team gave informative lectures on urban design and design-thinking, green and resilient development, gender equality and social inclusion, inclusive local economic development and local governance. By the end of the day, participants had the opportunity to discuss what they view to be the primary problems and issues faced by the surrounding Lakeside area in Pokhara was well as sharing their thoughts on potential solutions. The second day of the workshop held the exciting opportunity for the Go-GRID class to do field work outside the classroom – including a Transect Walk exercise through the entire leg of the Fewa Lakeside and the neighbouring localities starting from Shahid Chowk in the South-East to Hallan Chowk in the North-West, which for the ease of the participants were divided into four different zones. The Transect Walk is used as a way to observe the surrounding area from the users’ point of view for example as pedestrians, vendors, cyclists, drivers and tourists.
Following the Transect Walk, Go-GRID participants shared their insights including observations around the lack of disability-friendly footways or public amenities and insufficiently disaster-resilient spaces by the Lakeside. These observations spurred discussion around mitigating solutions such as the possibility of elevating local businesses and better managing the existing pollution in public areas.
Subsequent sessions on ‘Empathy’, ‘Define’ and ‘Ideate’ helped orient the Go-GRID class to the first steps of the design-thinking process. The core message for participants was to make conscious effort to be empathetic to the needs of the users of infrastructure and services, to redefine the most salient problems on this basis, and to collaboratively brainstorm the most effective solutions.
During the third and final day of Go-GRID workshop in Pokhara, the sessions were more interactive and discussion oriented where participants exchanged their ideas from the Transect Walk more formally and presented their take on the most salient problems faced by the users of the Lakeside area. Among the different problems discussed, the most pressing were:
- Improper traffic and parking management
- Inefficient use and management of public amenities
- Underutilisation of open spaces
- Lack of pedestrian safety
- Absence of a pleasing ambiance or beautified spaces
During the discussion, participants presented possible solutions to these problems. Some were even ahead of the curve and proposed potential designs to improve the Lakeside area.
Overall, the multi-day first go-GRID workshop paved the way for the participants to present their creative insights, a key component of the design-thinking process which hinges on being both creative and simple. With design-thinking, every invention is the result of an identified need focused on the user-perspective. The simpler and more evidence-based an intervention is, the more human-centric the outcome becomes – including an easier adoption and implementation process.
All participants reflected that their knowledge of the design-thinking approach has been strengthened by the three-day workshop and expressed enthusiasm for what is to come next. The workshop will remain with them for the next months as they develop their ideas and produce potential projects according to the design-thinking approach with an emphasis on taking the time to fully think through urban, human-centric design and planning interventions.
The closing message of the Go-GRID workshop in Pokhara was that while it is easy to be hindered by conventional thinking, experience and educational background, thinking outside the box to generate innovate ideas and approaches is crucial for stronger green, resilient and inclusive infrastructure development. A human-centric design-thinking approach is a key step in this direction.
Stay tuned on our course progress – the next Go-GRID bootcamp will begin in Butwal from 22nd February 2023.