Nandja Chopra


Workshops organised by DAAD are enriching in so many ways. While each workshop is designed uniquely with varied experiences, the core success lies in inter-disciplinary team as it thrives on bridging the gap.
The mentors from both Nepal and Germany have brought such a wide variety of exchange of thoughts on to the table and discussions.
Both formal and informal discussions with peers have helped me in my personal growth. It not just improves communication skills, character development but also broadens the lens of looking at urban realm from various facets.
All form of discussions bring to light various potential research topics for young researchers like myself. The complex questions and potential solutions also highlight the complexities of the world we live in and a realisation that we will always require individuals from various fields working together to solve those problems.

Having two teams looking at different sites was very interesting as we were able to draw comparisons and understand the urban processes that drives the change in different scenarios.

In retrospect, the workshop and project should be carried forward where community engagement and participation is exercised to understand the precincts for a comprehensive case for future.

Thank you for this opportunity. It was one amazing week and new friendships to cherish for a very long time!!

Group: Vertical, Dharampura, Old City, Delhi

Faded modes of mobility 

Source  of Illustration : Author

Research Question:
How can story telling through urban facades of  a neighbourhood determine and mitigate future trends of transformations in Dharampura ?

Dharampura Mohalla (neighbourhood) is tucked inside Old city of Delhi marked by prominent edges like Kinnari (Edging of fabrics) Bazaar on one side and Chawri bazaar on the other. 

This quintessential residential block has seen a landmark change in the form of Dharampura Havelli renewal from 2011-16.
The naturally aged and unstable havelli was renovated to a luxury hotel inside the Mohalla giving a new life to the whole neighbourhood. It put Dharampura on map for visitors.


Before (left) I After (right)

Source  of Images : Dharampura Havelli Website

Through the course of workshop, Facades have been looked at in understanding layering of transformation and aspirations of habitants. The layer is also significant of TIME across various GENRES of materiality, aspirations and transformations.
Here, Urban stories are communicated via static element of materiality and is representative of dynamics of change and construction trends.

Edges of the residential block have been studied as internal lanes have already gone through change and process of rebuilding while edges struggle to keep up with increasing traffic, heavy pedestrian flow and pressure of change created post the renovation of Dharampura Havelli.


Source of Illustration: Author 

Functional use of ground floor on the edges plays an important role in defining the edges of Dharampura. Residential streets open up into Bazaar-like road 

And gradually adhering to the rest of the old city edges on all sides. 

Location: Dharampura, Gali Anar and  Kutcha Seth Road Edge


Character of Street : Highlighted Layers of Bygone Era
Source of Illustration: Author 

As children from Dharampura move towards their school slowing down near the edge basking in the light on the street. 

Location: Dharampura, Gali Anar and Kutcha Seth Road Junction 


Dilapidated Havelli at the edge
Source of Illustration: Author 

The old and new blues tell a story of same colours with new meanings. The edge is disputed property awaiting of new construction to be a new structure competing with Dharampura Havelli  

Location: Dharampura, Gali Anar and Kutcha Seth Road Junction 


LIGHT AND MATERIALS: Dilapidated Havelli at the edge
Source of Illustration: Author 

The edges adorn ornated old brackets with new construction on above floors. The dilapidated havelli allows the light to percolate into streets, which is rare sight as one has to chase the sky in old city 

Location: Dharampura and  Kutcha Seth Road Edge

Commodification of Light and Sky
Source of Illustration: Author 

Sky and Light are the most expensive commodity in Dharampura area. People have encroached their part of skies by projecting the upper floors, almost making it curious journey for viewer on the street to navigate and find the skies. In search of urban facades and materiality, SKY stood out an element worth chasing for. 

Source of Illustration: Author 

The locality is a closed knit society. The edges are hard to percolate through
for passer-by. The newly constructed girls school on the left is concrete 

Building pointing towards the edge of the street. 

Location: Dharampura and Kutcha Seth Road Edge


Peepal Wali Gali
Source of Illustration: Author 

One of the  oldest trees in locality is a site of reverence. At this point, Dharampura stands still in time and the tree marks as oldest trace of materiality and urban form. The vistas from below add an ecology layer to sky. 

Location: Dharampura Road

Change is the only Constant
Source of Illustration: Author 

The floors constructed above some 40 years earlier are in state of Deterioration. Covered with asbestos sheeting (now banned as a material) were a solution earlier for quick roofing. The mixed use below conceals the actual state above. 

Location: Terrace of Jain Girl’s School  

On the Edge of Change
Source of Illustration: Author 

Standing on a havelli in dilapidated condition, one can see the contrast inside residential lanes closer to edges. On left side, the building is renovated and Newly constructed, whereas on the  right side, the building is abandoned and in state of despair. The tree in the middle stands out as a symbol of resistance. 


Inside residential cocoons
Source of Illustration: Author 

Image of the neighbourhood is determined by the tree. It is the only object of visual respite. New constructions have accommodated the existence of tree in its urban form conforming that people still hold on to the past in one form or another and have capabilities of governing their change in the area.  


Layers of Change
Source of Illustration: Author 



Edges are a way to understand what community understands by “transformation”. Either they are an image of change or in transition of change.

From the course of workshop, listed below are few conclusions, based on the documentation above: 

1.The edges towards North of Dharampura are fragile and quite do not know what they aspire to be. 

2.Migration-out and aspirations to own a four wheeler are stronger than holding onto the past. 

3.The area is on way of becoming mixed use residential and commercial by diversifying the functional usage of various buildings.

4.Buildings built edge – to –edge have strong possession over streets and sky. 

5.To study transformations, Built edges and edge conditions show signs of  transformation before the inner lanes but in case of Dharampura, it is opposite. 

6.Here, inner residential lanes have transformed faster than the edges. 

7.As the nature of dynamics of old city are changing, more warehouses are finding space in these inner residential lanes and Dharampura is absorbing that change.

8.Also with successful urban transformations like Dharmapura Havelli, the owners are looking forward to similar alterations in the main Dharampura street. 

Participants Bio

Hi! My name is Nandja. I am an urban designer and an architect by profession. I am extremely passionate about Heritage of our cities and exploring their relevance in contemporary times. I aspire to make my world a better place by doing my bit as a designer. When I am not designing, I enjoy travelling, dancing and learning new skills.