Last year Sahil Bipin Deshpande, 22, was on his way home to Wadala, from Borivli, when he really needed to go to the toilet, but there wasn’t a single public toilet on that long stretch. The discomfort sparked an inspiration and yielded his final year architecture thesis based on the public toilet system, or lack thereof, in the city.
Now, his proposal to study urban sanitation systems in different parts of the world has won him the RIBA Sir Norman Foster Scholarship, a 6000£ scholarship given out annually to promote research in architecture and urban studies.
Deshpande, a student of Rizvi College of Architecture, will study public toilets in Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Johannesburg, Belfast, Oslo, Paris and Kumasi over a two-month period. “I want to try and understand the sanitation systems in each of these cities” said Deshpande.
“The need of the city and of the country right now is a good public toilet system,” he added.
Instituted in 2006, the scholarship is awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and renowned British architect Lord Norman Foster.
The scholarship is open to students from more than 100 RIBA-accredited architecture schools from countries around the world including China, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom, among others.
“We received a large number of high quality submissions – your proposal was outstanding and a worthy winner,” said a letter to Deshpande signed by Norman Foster.
“We encourage our students to address social issues,” said Akhtar Chauhan, director of the institute. “When we talk about cities we aren’t just looking at private property but a whole set of issues. Sahil’s was a very good effort.”
(Rizvi College will be displaying all the final year theses projects, including Deshpande's, at the college premises over the course of the next month. It is open to the public.)