Image: Praveen Raj (center) with CNU Board Chair Eliza Harris Juliano (left) and CNU President and CEO Lynn Richards (right).
Earlier this month, The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) honored UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design alumni Praveen Raj (M.U.D. ‘17) and Parisa Mir Sadeghi (M.U.D. ‘17) for their excellence in realizing the aspirations of creating livable and equitable communities through two projects they completed as students.
The projects are among eleven professional and three student winners of CNU’s 17th annual Charter Awards, which recognize exemplary projects by local government, developers, architects, urban designers and others engaged in revitalizing and creating coherent cities, neighborhoods, and metropolitan regions. Winners are chosen because they not only embody and advance the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism, but also because they make a difference in people’s lives.
“A Framework for Empowerment,” by Praveen Raj proposes the removal of an urban highway and revitalization of Villa 31, an 80-year-old squatter-built shantytown in Buenos Aires, for its long-time residents—using bottom-up and top-down implementation concepts. Building on the local, low-tech recycling industry—13.6 percent of adults in Villa 31 are employed as “cartoneros,” people who roam the streets of the city at night and collect scrap material—the plan proposes a large new recycling facility that would support the manufacturing of value-added products for sale outside the community—and construction of affordable housing, using local labor, as residents of Villa 31 are also widely employed in building trades.
“A Future for the Past” by Parisa Mir Sadeghi, offered a vision for revitalizing a dilapidated, low-income 13.5-acre site in the historic inner city of Tehran through public spaces and building types. The project goal was to strengthen social capital and generate economic activity through urban strategies and design. The project area is the heart of the city, which historically was built with courtyard housing—much of which has been replaced by newer, taller structures like apartment buildings. Mir Sadeghi sought to recreate the unique characteristics of historic Tehran neighborhoods “while accommodating the changes that have occurred in people’s lifestyles over time,” Sadeghi explains. A doubling of density in new buildings makes development feasible, and the plan includes a community-based finance strategy for construction.
About the Congress for New Urbanism Awards
The Congress for the New Urbanism is an international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, and get around. We believe that well- designed cities and neighborhoods are crucial for our health, economy, and environment. CNU connects and empowers the professionals, leaders, advocates, and citizens building places where people and businesses can thrive and prosper. Regarded as the preeminent award for excellence in urban design, the CNU Charter Awards have honored a select number of winners and honorable mentions since 2001. In 2018, the jury focused on a specific aspect of the Charter’s principles: projects that advanced equitable and inclusive placemaking.