Indian Institute of Human Settlements


Bangalore, Karnataka | Ongoing

The campus for the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) is a mixed -use campus comprising of academic, research and residential facilities. The site occupies a predominantly westerly slope with gentle and rolling gradients.
The North side is bounded by a reserve forest, with prominent of stands of eucalyptus interspersed with many native trees. On the East, a large residential layout development is under construction. The western side forms a riparian edge for a seasonal stream linking the Ramasagara and Bhimanakuppe tanks (kere), which form a part of a traditional water management system, typical to Bangalore. The south edge of the site has private land holdings.


The site is a savannah with clusters of date palms and associated woody trees, with a secondary succession of thorny plants. The areas with thick woody vegetation and crown stratification generally overlie pockets of good soil depth. Old trees, including a large banyan tree, stand as vestiges of an erstwhile landscape quality and allude to its change from an erstwhile wooded natural area-agricultural land-subdivided private land.

In the first two stages, the campus planning process was guided by a landscape structure plan and further ecological directions put in place through a landscape-centric site planning approach. Thereafter, FICUS undertook the responsibility to steer pivotal concerns and strategies from these preceding stages into detailed site planning and landscape design, while adapting them to accommodate new programmatic changes.


A wide range of field studies in hydrogeology, soil quality, flora and fauna, transportation etc were carried out by subject experts with IIHS, as project baseline studies, which in turn, influence the landscape design, site management and site remediation works.


The landscape design process is a collective result and expression of a three-stage engagement by three different landscape architecture practices, where each stage concisely builds upon the design outlines and the knowledge of the preceding stage, while responding to evolving requirements.

 The campus landscape will be a long-term ecological monitoring and review project which would collectively measure the impacts of the landscape planning and ecological initiatives on local flora, fauna, soil quality, groundwater and air quality. This aspect forms a vital component of the research aims of IIHS.


Ecological framework and ecological systems provisioning



The role of landscape design in the current masterplan involves:

  • Incorporating hydrogeological features of the site- visible and buried dykes, and shallow valleys of first order streams as a key water management strategy.

  • Siting and detailing runoff holding ponds, that function as seasonal water bodies.

  • Linking the western riparian edge and the north-side reserve forest, through the campus site, as a forested edge, with water reservoirs, to form a naturalistic, seasonally variable biological corridor.

  • Modulating the south and east edges of the campus to allow a green edge that capitalises on the parks and gardens corridor in the upcoming residential layout.

  • Creating a series of microhabitats by the end of Phase 1 of campus development, comprising of rocky, waterside, upland and lowland mosaics, which in turn, will be catalysts for the revival of natural food chains, soil-atmosphere exchanges and symbiotic life processes for life forms other than humans.

  • Use of the site as a laboratory for deriving field data regarding business-as-usual, scientific and traditional approaches to site planting, using certain key native species of different age as test cases. This also involves monitoring of selective existing weed patches to understand resilience and adaptation.

  • Achieving a ecologically correct articulation of edges, transitions and open space structure, to reinforce the idea of a campus set in a wooded landscape.

  • Facilitating goals like long-term ecological monitoring and review, soil remediation, runoff and waste management, traffic movement resilience for diverse scenarios.

  • Spatially uniting the diverse building forms and architectural programmes , with occasional shifts to provide more architectonic appreciation of open space clusters and building foregrounds.

Academic road view with boulders.jpg
road to library.jpg
library plaza view.jpg
View from southern driveway with grass paver parking alternate.jpg

 In a larger sense, the project is seen as a philosophical lesson in patience, watching the plants grow, insects come and go, rather than a quick-fix instantaneous landscape. If things go right, after twenty years or so, the project will see a symbiosis between the various occupants of the campus- human, botanical and zoological life forms.

Typology: Public space | Site Planning | Institutional
Extent: 54 acres

Client: Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS)
Landscape structure and function: Mohan Rao and team
Landscape Masterplanning: Oikos, Bangalore (Nina Chandavarkar and team)
Site planning and detailed landscape design: FICUS Landscape Architects, Bangalore
Urban Design Masterplan: SERIE, London
Architects: DUSTudio (Auroville), Biome (Bangalore), Arya Architects (Ahmedabad)
MEP Masterplanning: McD Berl, Bangalore
Peer review : Aromar Revi, Rahul Mehrotra, Sanjay Prakash, Tanmay Tathagat, B. Bhat,
Dr. Sulthan, Prof. Narasimhan , Kenrick Mascarenhas, Krishna Hegde, S.Narayana.

Ficus: Aparna Rao, Aparna R, Aseem L, Megha S, Meghana M, Raaghav L, Rajat R, Rohan D, Sagar S, Sriganesh R.