Chitkara School of Planning and Architecture: Expanding the Realms of Knowledge through Innovation

The institute aims to be a globally recognized organization promoting academic excellence through interdisciplinary applied research and to expand realms of knowledge through innovation.

Established in 2004, Chitkara School of Planning and Architecture (CSPA) is a constituent of Chitkara University Punjab. Located along the Chandigarh-Patiala National Highway, the institute is within easy reach of Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula, Ambala, and Patiala. It is committed to excellence and is known for its vibrant academic environment, distinguished faculty, brilliant students, and proactive collaboration with industry.

CSPA has infrastructural facilities matching the industry standards, so that the students get to study in an environment conducive to the current practices of contemporary architecture needs. The students have access to department’s own library facility housed in over 300 sq meters of space with an exhaustive collection of about 5600 reputed volumes/journals/magazines. Additionally, e-books and archived students thesis and other important documentation works have been procured from all over the globe for ready reference to students/scholars. The computer lab has about 40 workstations equipped and regularly updated with all the latest licensed software relevant to the field of architecture. Other important facilities present in the department are a climate responsive workshop, a carpentry workshop, and a surveying equipment lab. Other allied infrastructure has students’ access to a laser cutting and 3-D modeling machine and an exploration hub (aimed at providing a window to the students for their entrepreneurial pursuits).

Promoting Excellence in Education

CSPA’s excellent standpoints in the architectural education industry have led students from various parts of India, Nepal, and Bhutan to join the institution. The university conducts a regular “Semester Exchange Program”, where students from Spain, Korea, and Iceland spend one to two semesters at Chitkara for study purposes. In addition, collaborative workshops with students and faculty of some French and Japanese Universities have become an annual feature.

The school runs a 5-year B.Arch. degree program, with an annual intake of 120 students. The program is organized in two stages. Stage one builds essential skills and sensibility required to work with professional architects. Stage two focuses on state-of-the-art practices, while also preparing students for graduate studies and research. An intensive 32 week long professional internship separates the two stages.

CSPA has designed its curriculum in such a way that it promotes a human-centric, context-specific design approach while addressing challenges of technology and issues of environmental sustainability, drawing upon wisdom of the past while adapting to current and changing needs of the industry. Their vision is to provide the necessary creative, technical, and soft skills, coupled with ample interface with the profession, and make the students technologically proficient, socially sensitive, and environmentally responsible.

Dedicated Faculty Shaping Students’ Careers

The school has a large body of professionally proficient, motivated, and committed core faculty, along with a band of experienced practitioners as visiting faculty. Their cumulative expertise ranges from heritage conservation, construction management, disaster risk management, interior architecture, and so on- thus offering a comprehensive, wholesome resource base, and providing an in-house facility for students to upgrade their competence constantly. They are actively involved in research and publication, with regular participation in national and international events. Constant in-service training keeps them abreast with latest developments in the profession, as well as in education technology. Several among the faculty have been awarded for their extraordinary achievements and contributions.

The Visionary Director

CSPA is managed under the competent guidance of the Director Prof. Dr. Ambuj Kumar. He is responsible for looking after the overall proceedings of the institute, ranging from framing of the syllabus to the development of the infrastructure. Dr. Kumar also plays the role of a mentor to the faculty members, wherein he guides them at various levels of academics and administration.

Fostering a Culturally Vibrant Atmosphere

CSPA organizes various cultural events on national days and annual students’ fests. The institute takes great pride in commemorating birth anniversaries of master architects every month through thematic competitions of poster making, sketching, quizzes, costume parades, and so on. They give special importance to the “Le Corbusier Day” which is celebrated every year in October with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm. Another annual event unique to CSPA is a week-long Design Charette held each July, in which each participating group involves vertical integration of students thereby fostering peer learning along with teamwork and out-of-the-box thinking. Yet another tradition observed is the annual celebration of the World Heritage Day in April, when the students organize a public exhibition of the historic places documented by them during the year and also visit neighboring village schools to sensitize them on their region’s natural and cultural resources.

Co-Curricular and Extra-Curricular Activities

CSPA not only provides exceptional educational facilities, but also conducts a variety of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities to ensure overall development of the students. The students of CSPA have their own body divided into four houses viz. Ajanta, Ellora, Sikri, and Modhera which organize many annual and bi-annual functions with themes related to architecture and have many competitions to this effect. Sports are also encouraged and organized every year by the same students’ body.

On the Research Front

Right from its inception, CSPA has nurtured a culture of impactful research and publication. Besides “Concepts”, the annual publication of student’s work, the institute also brings out “Creative Space”, the bi-annual refereed architecture journal of Chitkara University (ISSN Print: 2321-3892; ISSN Online: 2321-7154), which is indexed in several renowned journal indexing agencies such as SHERPA, SCILIT, ZENODO, Scientific Indexing Service, and so on. The school also publishes its monthly newsletter to provide an insight on the month’s activities.

Financial Assistance

CSPA offers financial grants for meritorious students, including sponsorships for participation in advanced/extension courses and various competitions in India. Most interestingly, fully-funded semester exchanges are facilitated through the Erasmus Plus program, as and when available. Soft loans and “Earn-while-you-Learn” schemes are also available on a “Merit-cum-Means” basis for funding educational tours and other similar activities.

Remarkable Accreditations and Accomplishments

CSPA has been accredited by the Council of Architecture (Formed by the Government of India under the Parliaments’ Architects act 1972). It has won several accolades at the Annual and Zonal Meets of National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA); NIASA Awards for Excellence in Under-Graduate Architectural Thesis (2014 & 2015); INTACH Heritage Awards for Excellence in Documentation (2016, 2018). Also, it has acquired top positions at the Earthquake Resistant Design Competition at IIT, Kanpur (2017); the Interior Design Competition by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) (2017), and so on.

Distinguished Collaborations

CSPA has developed numerous international links and collaborations with many foreign universities. It organizes various week-long workshops annually where numerous visiting faculties from its global partners conduct lectures and workshops with the students to show pathways leading towards success. It has an active Semester Exchange Program with Universities of Alicante and Barcelona in Spain. The Students Mobility Program under “Erasmus +” has also facilitated an all-paid semester exchange at Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, Turkey. Workshops have been organized with the Ecole nationale superieure d’ architecture Paris-Malaquais and Ecole nationale superieure d’ architecture de Toulouse, France, and the Tokyo University of Science. Plans for further collaborative research on areas of mutual interest are on the anvil.

Career Development Initiatives

At CSPA, students experience industry norms by regular workshops and seminars aimed at cementing the academia-industry relationship for an exceptional career. The university offers a curriculum, which directly connects the students to the industry where they are going to work in their near future. Besides frequent interaction with the professionals from different allied streams, it offers an intensive 32-week internship, and prepares students for research and teaching. Furthermore, special efforts are made to introduce newly emerging career options such as architecture journalism, architectural photography, and many more. In addition, the institute hosts numerous on-campus incubators such as the “Explore Hub” providing multiple opportunities of entrepreneurship.

Marching Forward

In its pursuit to expand its horizons in the field of architecture in the upcoming academic years, CSPA is introducing the opportunity of higher studies with the inclusion of the various masters’ and doctoral programs. It aims to be a hub of research and development in the fields of planning and architecture not only in the region, but the country as a whole.

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