Sai Varsha Akavarapu

M.Sc. Urban Ecological Planning



DLGS, Falkenbrunnen, Würzburger Straße 35, Room 212

Phone: +49 (0)351 463 42349
Fax: +49 (0)351 4679 212

DLGS 2022 (2022-2025)


Doctoral Thesis

Working Title:
Smart and Sustainable Urbanism in India: Participatory Envisioning and the plausible futures in the Anthropocene

Prof. Dr. Judith Miggelbrink, Technische Universität Dresden

IOER Research area:
Transformative Capacities

Recent use of the concept of Anthropocene in the urban arena signifies challenges, uncertainties and opportunities that the nature, scale and magnitude of human impacts bring about on global and bio-physical scales. However, its true substance lies in how the concept can be used to guide attributes, choices, policies and actions that can influence the future. And future as it seems, lies in ‘SMART & SUSTAINABLE’ urbanism. Joining the discussions on the future, India too heralded a new paradigm for urban transformation through its ‘Smart City Mission’ in 2015. However, majority of the emphasis of the mission is placed on envisioning futures that are mass produced through predictability mechanisms utilising known patterns as evident from the past, indirectly creating spaces and places that are non-inclusive, unsustainable, spatially and socially marginalised and have minimal participation from all cadres of the society. One solution to reduce complexities and increase accountability and advocacy to the quotidian and the urban environment would be to adopt participatory governance, where people envision and drive sustainable change. While much of the research documented on participation and envisioning comes from the west, little has been said about the developing world and what envisioning for smart and sustainable urban futures would entail in a multi-cultural, unequal socio-economic-political structures. To this extent, the research will focus on deciphering the role of the state, local governments, private sector and civic organizations/non-governmental organizations in enabling, initiating, accelerating and implementing the discussions on smart and sustainable futures emphasizing on participatory governance and envisioning techniques. The research will utilize qualitative methods such as landscape imaging, structured and non-structured questionnaires, assessment of policy documents, critical discourse analysis of landmark judgements, interviews with relevant officials and the civic organisations to decipher the extent to which participation is seen/not as an essential practice for smart and sustainable urban futuristic transitions. The study will contribute towards discussion on possible redesign of the socio-political-administrative structures, practices and cultures in order to integrate the horizontal themes of sustainability, participation and envisioning in local governance to enable transformative and lasting change.



Since 04/2022
Doctoral Student at TU Dresden, Faculty of Environmental Sciences

Studies in Urban Ecological Planning at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway.
Academic Degree: M.Sc. Urban Ecological Planning

Studies in Urban and Regional planning at School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada, India.
Academic Degree: Bachelor of Planning


Programme Fellow at the India Smart Cities Fellowship Programme working under the Smart Cities Mission at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the National Institute of Urban Affairs.

05/2018 – 08/2019
Master’s Thesis Student/Student Assistant working on the Horizon 2020: Trans-Urban-EU-China Project, work package 1.3: Socio-economic values through heritage preservation, at the Department of Architecture and Planning at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.


Scholarship to pursue doctoral studies at the Leibniz-Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung (IÖR) under the structured doctoral program of the Dresden Leibniz Graduate School.

ERASMUS + Scholarship to attend the VVITA workshop conducted by Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest (UAUIM) Romania.

UNHABITAT Grant to participate in the Wuhan Placemaking Week

Henrik Homan’s Memory Scholarship for the study conducted on developing a local area plan for Raviwar Peth, Pune.

Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education Scholarship for the Smart and Sustainable City Regions in India project conducted in Pune.