Design Impact Vol. 5: Hard City – Soft City: A South Asian Perspective

Design Impact Vol. 5: Following the Sun: Design Futures at the Intersection of Health, Equity and Climate Change is a global virtual summit sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Alumni Council. Launching Thursday, September 23rd, the summit brings together an outstanding roster of global leaders to share their work and vision at the intersection of health, climate change and equity. This inspiring, two-day virtual summit transcends regional and national boundaries to unite our global community of practice, challenging us to use design as a tool for actionable, transformative change, and healing.

Session 9: Hard City – Soft City: A South Asian perspective on the dichotomy of physical and operational urban technologies

This two-panel session aims to discuss more inclusive and integrative ways to update existing infrastructure and technologies, beyond optimizing its performance for efficiency, to create more resilient, equitable, and sustainable neighborhoods and improve their governing systems. The Hard City panel unpacks the discourse of physical infrastructure beyond the top-down modernist visions of efficient engineering solutions. The Soft city panel examines the operational UrbanTech that animates the city with entrepreneurial and civic innovations. The two panels, though set up as antithetical in scope, draw out the dialectic relationship between physical and operational infrastructure that compose and configure the South Asian cities.

Session Lead: Naksha Satish, Architect, Urban Designer, Urban Practitioner

Panel 1: Hard City
Curator: Anthony Acciavatti, Architect, Co-founder, Somatic Collaborative, Daniel Rose Visiting Assistant Professor in Urban Studies at Yale University.
Anthony Acciavatti, Architect, Co-founder and Principal, Somatic Collaborative, New York
Kotchakorn Voraakhom, Landscape Architect, Founder and CEO at Landprocess and Porous City Network, Thailand

Panel 2: Soft City
Curator: Rohit Aggarwala, Senior Fellow at the Urban Tech Hub at the Jacobs Cornell-Technion Institute at Cornell Tech, New York
Moderator: Naksha Satish, Architect, Urban Designer, Urban Practitioner, Cambridge
Dulith Herath, a serial entrepreneur, Founder of, Sri Lanka
Kalpana Vishwanath, Founder, Safetipin, New Delhi, India

To learn more about the Design Impact event series, visit To learn more about ways to support the Harvard Graduate School of Design, visit



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