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K-State Today

June 7, 2016

Nawre honored with Mellon Fellowship to enhance research

Submitted by Courtney Boman

Alpa Nawre, assistant professor of landscape architecture, was one of two in residence at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C., in spring 2016 as an inaugural Mellon fellow in urban landscape studies for 2015-2016.

Dumbarton Oaks, affiliated with the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is one of the few institutions in the world with a program devoted to garden and landscape studies that is targeted at both humanities scholars and landscape practitioners.

During Nawre's fellowship, she studied data collected during her field studies and developed three papers. The first compares the ponds or talaab, and river edges, or ghat, in India to synthesize aspects that enable them to act as vibrant social spaces. The second essay analyzes the role of religious architecture at the talaab water edges, and the third explores the dual role of ghat infrastructure as a hybrid object and subject in the landscape. This study will help to situate landscape architecture further within the progressive debate on water management in cities, multifunctional landscapes and culturally embedded urban landscape infrastructure.

"In India, the land-water edges of urban water bodies are climate adaptive and vibrant public landscapes, which simultaneously address multiple issues such as flooding and access," Nawre said. "My research compared the land-water interface of the water systems of rivers and ponds in Indian cities to find the design elements that enable their flexibility and sociocultural performance."

The Mellon fellowships are intended to expand the opportunities offered by the institution to both of these groups, building constructive dialogue between them about the history and future of urban landscapes, and encouraging them to bridge the gap between their professional modes of thinking.

"The fellowship has not only helped me further the design understanding of urban water infrastructure as social landscapes, but also helped develop a broader perspective on better water management strategies in urban development," Nawre said.