CEPT Essay Prize 2020- Urbanising Asia and World Knowledge

First abstracts: 15th May 2020 Submission of final Essays: 15th Sep 2020

Much of our understanding of cities relies on models of urban history and urban experience defined by the study of West European and North American urban experiences and scholarship – whether it is Spiro Kostoff, or Kevin Lynch, Christopher Alexander or Richard Sennett. The development of world knowledge as it shaped between the European Renaissance and Colonialism is important in the way the pre-modern, the industrial, and the colonial or modern urban development gets described, defined and produces a universal sense of the city. Often in describing the non-European city, the European model or experience still becomes the ‘structural other’. Economic developments in the last four decades, and changing disciplinary structures within Sociology, Urban Geography, Urban History, and the emergence of City Studies has shifted the attention of understanding urban development and urban studies to new models as seen with Anthony King, to much later works of William Grover on Lahore, Arjun Appadurai and Mumbai or Timothy Mitchell on Cairo. Global Cities to Network Cities and Radical Cities and closer home to the thesis of Kinetic Cities many important cultural and political transformations have been studied through cities such as Mumbai or Hong Kong, Shanghai or Dubai, or even the African experience through cities such as Cairo, Johannesburg, and the studies of David Adjaye. From a very crucial study of Hong Kong by Ackbar Abbas as  to the work of Brenda Yeohs on Singapore or Janki Nair on Bengaluru as well as thesis on the middle-class in Delhi or Srivastava on Gurgaon and similar curatorial research projects on the cities of Abu Dhabi or Beirut by Catherine David, the cities of Asia have emerged as new laboratories for exploring not only our understanding about cities, but in fact using cities as a lens to explore the changing nature of socio-economic patterns within urban groups and communities, and cultural geographies networked globally. At the same time iconic buildings, conservation of historic architecture, or renewal and new urban development architectural cases are all examples to explore the contemporary world-views for their cultural and political semiotics.

The third cycle of the CEPT Essay Prize 2020 invites you to explore a particular urban condition from anywhere in Asia to understand the nature of networked knowledge production about habitats and cultures, people and world-views. Parallel and interconnected geographies are the important operative ideas as compared to the older imagination in banal binaries such as ‘East versus West’. Urbanity is no longer imagined only through lived physical fabrics but as much as through cinematic, virtual, and purely cultural experiences; the city could be regionally expanded or located within a single neighbourhood wholly as Kaiwan Mehta proposed in Alice n Bhuleshwar or city living could be about ‘distributed-urbanity over a economic-cultural landscapes of migrations’ as he further proposes. The essay should explore specific conditions and examples for models of knowledge production that allow important insights in habitat patterns, cultural transformations, economic patterns, sociological formations and the construction of newer world-views.

Writing Guidelines:

  • The writing should be accessible to a wider readership beyond the architecture and planning audiences; and it should also be able to connect with readers across the world beyond South and South-East Asia.
  • Clarity of thought and simplicity of language will be preferred.
  • Directness of communication or arguments presented is encouraged.


  • Graduates from any allied areas of architecture and planning, up to the age of 30 years
  • Individual Submissions Only
  • Any candidate can apply to the CEPT Essay Prize for a maximum of two cycles; however, those who have been awarded the first or second position in any cycle are no longer eligible to apply for a subsequent cycle.
  • Please refer to document click here for all technical writing guidelines.

CEPT Essay Prize 2020: Details of the Competition

  • The essay competition will be held in two stages.
  • First we invite participants to submit an essay abstract of about 800 words.
  • A panel of four experts will blind review them and shortlist 45 entrants.
  • The selected participants after being duly informed, will be required to submit a long form essay of 3000 words, which will be blind reviewed by a panel of three eminent jurors.


  • Announcement of the Essay Prize: 1st Mar 2020
  • First abstracts: 15th May 2020
  • Announcements of final selection of Abstracts: 15th Aug 2020
  • Submission of final Essays: 15th Sep 2020
  • Announcement of winners of the Essay Prize: 30th Nov 2020
  • All submissions: essayprize@cept.ac.in

CEPT Essay Prize Money:

  • First Prize: INR 100,000
  • Second Prize: INR 50,000

CEPT Essay Prize committee:

  • Seema Khanwalkar (Convener, Semiotician)
  • A.Srivathsan (Architect, Critic)
  • Kaiwan Mehta (Architect, Critic, Editor)

Saumya Das (CEPT University Press)

Shortlisting – Review Committee:

  • Sonal Mithal (Architect, Artist, Academic,)
  • Caterinel Dunca (Litterateur, Academic)
  • Kanika Singh (Historian, Director Writing Center, Ashoka University)
  • Rutul Joshi (Urban Transport Planner, Writer)

Jury Members:

  • Romi Khosla (Architect, Writer, Delhi)
  • Tridip Suhrud (Historian, Ahmedabad)
  • Adnan Morshed (Architect, Academic, Dhaka)