B.Arch., M.L.A., M.Phil., PhD (Environmental Psychology)
I am an architect, landscape architect and environmental psychologist; and the founder/director of GRIT: environmental design + research studio.
I am a recipient of two university gold medals for excellence in Architectural education at the undergraduate level in India and hold a masters degree in Landscape Architecture from Virginia Tech. I completed my architectural training with the late Shri. Ravindra Bhan in New Delhi, India. In 2020, I was awarded a PhD in Environmental Psychology from The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
For over a decade, I worked as a research associate and project director with the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) at the Center for Human Environments (CHE), CUNY Graduate Center under the mentorship of Dr. Roger Hart and Dr. Pamela Wridt. In fact, I continue to hold my scholarly affiliation with CERG after moving back to India.
I worked with global organizations such as UNICEF, Plan International, Bernard vanLeer Foundation (BvLF) and World Resources Institute (WRI) to plan and implement the idea of child friendly spaces, homes, schools and cities across the world. My work took me to beautiful places including USA (New York City), Haiti, Uganda, Benin, Egypt (Cairo) and India (New Delhi, Mumbai, Bhavnagar and Pune).
My experience with global organisations taught me to listen to diverse voices and find ways to turn ideas into actions through participatory research.
I bring my extensive experience from the urban planning industry and academia to my current architectural practice at GRIT, where we listen to clients, observe and learn from the natural environment, and offer inclusive design solutions.
If you would like to consult me for projects related to architecture, landscape or urban planning and design, then reach out here: +91-8007770917
You can learn more about my professional and academic experience: sruthi.org
Sruthi Atmakur-Javdekar, Ph.D.
Founder-Director of GRIT: environmental design + research studio & Independent scholar of environmental psychology
Environmental Psychology Program and Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) (www.cergnyc.org) The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10016
Environmental Psychology Program, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (2020)
Research focus: play opportunities for young children from middle-class families living in high-rise housing in urban India, physical affordances and social influences of play for ‘all’ children, community development and participatory research methodologies
Environmental Psychology Program, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (2018)
Landscape Architecture, Virginia Polytechnic & State University (Virginia Tech) (2010) Masters thesis: Research in public spaces: Safety and human behaviour
Architecture, School of Planning and Architecture, J.N.T.U., India (2006) Undergraduate thesis: Cultural influence in creating dynamic public spaces
ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN PRACTICE
September 2022 – Ongoing
Principal architect and landscape architect – Double Courtyard K-12 School for a private educational institution One lakh ten thousand SFT K-12 school including pre-primary, primary, elementary, middle and high-school in Pune city, India. Architectural concept focuses on creating a holistic learning environment that focuses on children’s ability to have access to well-lit classrooms and outdoor natural spaces. Further, existing trees and plantation on the site were retained to establish a growing connection for children with the outdoor natural environment.
May – June 2022
Conceptual design architect – Farmhouse in New Delhi Architectural design for four-bedrooms family farmhouse of 4500 SFT in Chattarpur Farms, New Delhi, India.
August 2022 – Ongoing
Principal landscape architect – Affordances Podium Plaza for High-rise Residential Development in Balewadi 2 acres’ site design, planning and landscape architecture for a 134 m tall high-rise housing development in Pune city, India. Landscape design focuses on multiplicity of elements and offering varied affordances for families with children, young people, and senior citizens.
April 2022 – Ongoing
Principal landscape architect – Three Garden Courts Landscape Design for High-rise Residential Development in Balewadi 4 acres’ site design, planning and landscape architecture for 840 families residing in high-rise housing development in Pune city, India. Landscape thought is evolved by creating separate identities for six high-rise residential towers in a unified space; supporting the creation of multiple intergenerational spaces that are exclusive, yet together.
March – June 2022
Conceptual design architect, Courtyard Home in Wakad Architectural design for a six-bedrooms courtyard home of 3500 SFT in Wakad suburb, Pune city, India.
Jan. 2022 – Ongoing
Principal landscape architect, Urban Street and Plaza in Hinjewadi Urban street and plaza design and planning with a focus on interactive place-making for commercial front in Hinjewadi, Pune, India.
Nov. 2021 – Ongoing
Principal landscape architect – Holistic Landscape Design for High-rise Residential Development in Wakad 2-acres site design, planning and landscape architecture for 319 families residing in high-rise housing development in Pune city, India. Landscape thought is evolved by combining site geometry and vastu-shastra with human behavior to create meaningful and inspiring spaces.
Sept. 2021 – Ongoing
Principal architect and landscape architect – High-rise Office Building in Baner 70 m high-rise office building’s (1 lakh SFT) architectural design and landscape planning in Pune city, India. Common spaces are designed keeping in mind the need for green breakout-spaces for office users.
Sept. 2021 – Ongoing
Principal designer – playBOX Ideation and design of a diverse play space for young children (0 – 8 years of age) and their caregivers. This product is developed specifically for children living in high-rise housing developments.
Sept. 2021 – Ongoing
Principal designer – Khel Gadi Ideation and design of a mobile play space for young children (0 – 8 years of age) and their caregivers. This mobile van or ‘playground on wheels’ is developed specifically for use for children and families living in low-income or informal settlements.
February 2021 – Ongoing
Principal architect and landscape architect, Maharashtra, India 10-acre property’s farmhouse architectural design (12,000 SFT), site development and landscape design and planning in Darawali village, near Mulshi, India.
Jr. Landscape Architect for Children’s Nature Education Outdoor Classroom, U.S.F.S., Jefferson National Forest, Virginia Responsibilities: Conceptual design, site and contextual analysis.
Intern Landscape Architect at Mahan Rykiel Associates, Baltimore, Maryland Relevant work: Conceptual designs and site analysis including soil and water analysis.
Intern Architect at Ravindra Bhan & Associates, New Delhi, India Relevant work: Site planning of Memorial of National Leaders (specifically, Shaktisthal and Shantivan) in New Delhi and Hissar Park in Haryana, India.
RESEARCH & CONSULTING
April 2022 – March 2023
Expert-Consultant for Early Childhood Development for World Resources Institute’s Infant-Toddler Caregiver (ITC) Friendly Mobility project in India. Responsibilities: Offer expertise and support in completion of drafts related to (a) ITC-centric high-level policy brief; (b) ITC-friendly mobility planning toolkit and development of Pune city specific plan; and (c) ITC- friendly mobility plan for Pune. Further, provide support in finalization of key action points of ITC-friendly mobility planning policy and preparation of the capacity building modules related to the same.
Feb. 2020 – 2021
Project Manager Consultant for World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Infant-Toddler Caregiver Neighborhood (ITCN) project within BernardvanLeer Foundation’s Urban-95 program. Responsibilities: Co-manage, strategize and plan with colleagues at WRI-India Ross Center for Sustainable cities to roll out the ITCN challenge in major Indian cities. Also, provide research guidance and mentoring to the team to roll out their individual research projects related to the ITCN project.
Feb. 2018 – 2021
Project Co-director for nation-wide study on ‘State of Children’s Play in India’ led by International Play Association-India (IPA-India) and Action for Children’s Environments (ACE) Responsibilities: Project co-director, research design, planning and management of 20 local partners across India with Dr. Sudeshna Chatterjee of ACE, New Delhi.
Nov. 2016 – Feb. 2017
CERG Project Director for Young Citizens Score Cards (YCSC) Blended Learning Course in Cairo, Egypt. (Funder: Plan International) Responsibilities: Preparation, planning and facilitation of face-to-face workshop in Cairo to implement YCSC
Nov.– Dec. 2016
Project Director for Implementation of Child Friendly Places approach in Mumbai, India. (Funder: Apnalaya) Responsibilities: Training and support to community youth and adults in implementing ‘Child Friendly Places methodology’ to Apnalaya’s programs related to Education and Citizenship, Health, Disabilities, Disaster Risk Reduction and Livelihood.
July – Nov. 2016
CERG Project Co-director for Young Citizens Score Cards (YCSC) Blended Learning Course via Plan Academy. (Funder: Plan International) Responsibilities: Design of handover strategies and project planning for fully transitioning YCSC by training close to 40 programme managers across 15 countries with Dr. Bijan Kimiagar. Also, provided technical guidance in online training and implementing YCSC to Plan International’s key personnel.
Project Director for Feasibility study of digitalization of score cards in New Delhi, India. (Funded by Plan International) Responsibilities: Evaluation study research design and field-testing of audience response system for scoring service indicators with adolescent girls and boys, and adult community members.
Sept. 2015 – Jan. 2016
CERG Project Co-director for Young Citizens Score Cards Blended Learning Course in Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso, West Africa (Funder: Plan International) Responsibilities: Design and implementation of a blended learning course for managers in Plan Country Offices (Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso) with two main components: (1) an online course covering the six modules of the CERG-Plan score cards approach or YCSC via www.plan-academy.org and (2) five-day, face-to-face pilot workshop with girls, boys and service providers from one community in Benin with Dr. Bijan Kimiagar.
Nov. 2014 – May 2015
CERG Research Associate, Safe and Inclusive Cities, Because I Am A Girl Urban Programme, Kampala, Uganda and New Delhi, India (Funder: Plan International) Responsibilities: Co-development of Project Guidance note; Research and development of Child and Youth-friendly modules for Score cards approach and Youth-friendly Entitlements Analysis tools; Safe and inclusive cities tools; Workshop management and facilitation; and Development of Scorecards modules and tools with Dr. Pamela Wridt in Uganda and Dr. Bijan Kimiagar in New Delhi.
Jan. 2013 – Aug. 2014
CERG Research Associate and South-Asia coordinator, Child Friendly Places Resource Toolkit (Funder: Bernard Van Leer Foundation) Responsibilities: Research, design and development of Child Friendly Places resource toolkit with Dr. Pamela Wridt.
Apr. 2013 – 2016
External evaluator for Street and Working Children, Shaishav, Bhavnagar, India Responsibilities: Design and conduct a three-year evaluation to study impact of Shaishav in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Evaluation includes pre, post and impact studies.
Research Consultant for Children’s Play in India, Flamingo Int., London
Apr. 2010 – May 2012
CERG Research Associate for developing Children’s Participatory Assessment Toolkit for Transitional Learning Spaces in Emergency Contexts in Haiti (Funder: UNICEF) Responsibilities: Design and pilot testing of participatory assessment tool kits for children to assess their school environments in Haiti with Dr. Pamela Wridt. Pilot test of LEGO as a participatory tool with children to design and plan their classrooms.
Feb. 2011 – Apr. 2011
CERG Research Assistant in completion of a section titled ‘Planning Cities with Children in Mind’ for UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2012.
Apr. 2010 – May 2011
Project evaluator and CERG Research Assistant, Child Friendly Communities, East Harlem, New York (Funder: US Fund for UNICEF) Responsibilities: Evaluate youth engagement and participation in after-school programs; develop and conduct project evaluation including observation of sessions with youth, pre-/post-test surveys, documentation of process using video, and individual interviews of staff; and assist project director in technical and research needs of project.
Research Assistant at Community Design Assistance Center, Blacksburg, Virginia for GIS Analysis of the Great Eastern Trail Responsibilities: Site and contextual analysis and GIS related archival base-maps.
Wridt, P, Atmakur-Javdekar, S., and Hart R. (2015). Spatializing children’s rights: A comparison of two case studies from urban India. Children, Youth and Environments, 25(2), 33-85.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (in press). A daily practice in memories of a lived experience: Bridging Pune and New York City. Streetnotes: New York City in Transformation.
MANUSCRIPTS IN PREPARATION
“Array of Play Diversity: Guidelines for designers and housing professionals to create play opportunities for children living in high-rise housing developments”, Publication TBD
“Factors influencing the physical environment of young children’s play in high-rise housing developments”, Publication TBD
“How do caregivers manage young children’s play? An insight into caregivers’ play values, attitudes, and environmental preferences”, Publication TBD
“Where do young children in high-rise housing developments play? A critical analysis of spatial parameters and environmental play qualities across seven heterogeneous housing developments in Pune, India.” Publication TBD
“Neoliberal analysis of middle-class housing and young children’s play”, Publication TBD
Atmakur, S. (2012). An insight into contemporary inclusive play spaces: Report from the field [Research paper].
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (2021) Being active in play environments: The key to children’s health and wellbeing. Online blog series by British Educational Research Association (BERA) as part of ‘Wellbeing and being outdoors’. Retrieved from: https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/being-active-in-play-environments-the-key-to-childrens-health-and-wellbeing.
Atmakur, S. (2013). Playgrounds of inclusion. State of The World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. UNICEF. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/sowc2013/focus_playgrounds_of_inclusion.html
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (2015) Children’s play in urban areas, in Evans, B. and Horton, J. (eds) Play, recreation, health and well being, Vol. 9 of Skelton, T. (editor-in-chief) Geographies of Children and Young People (Springer Singapore)
MAGAZINE & NEWSPAPER ARTICLES
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (2021, May). Rethinking young children’s play lives: Do toddlers and pre-schoolers need academic lessons and enrichment activities? Research Intelligence by British Educational Research Association, The serious side of nature, outdoor learning & play International perspectives (147), 18–19.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (2022, January). Environmental psychology: Feature piece. The Kindness, 1.
Wridt, P., (project director); Atmakur, S. (project co-director); Kimiagar, B. (project co-director); Hart, R., (principal investigator); Young Citizens Score Cards, 2016, Plan International (www.cergnyc.org/scorecards)
Wridt, P., (project director); Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (research associate and South Asia research coordinator); Hart, R., (principal investigator); Child Friendly Places Resource Kit, 2014, Bernard Van Leer Foundation (http://www.childfriendlyplaces.org/)
Wridt, P., (project director); Hart, R., (project director); Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (research associate); Children’s Participatory Assessment Toolkit for Transitional Learning Spaces in Emergency Contexts, 2011, UNICEF (http://cergnyc.org/2012/03/30/education- in-emergencies/)
Atmakur, S. Shaishav’s Street and Working Children’s Post-Evaluation Report, 2016, Comic Relief.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. Technical Report of the Child Friendly Places Initiative – Gujarat, 2015, Shaishav and UNICEF India
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. Critical Review of the Child Friendly Places Initiative, Mumbai and Bhavnagar Cities, 2015, Bernard van Leer Foundation.
Wridt, P.; Atmakur-Javdekar, S. Child Friendly Places Global Evaluation Report – Global evaluation of a participatory, child rights approach to intergenerational assessment, planning and local development, 2015, Bernard van Leer Foundation.
Atmakur, S. Shaishav’s Street and Working Children’s Impact Evaluation Report, 2014, Comic Relief.
Atmakur, S. Shaishav’s Street and Working Children’s Pre-Evaluation Report, 2013, Comic Relief.
Wridt, P., Atmakur, S. Children’s Participatory Assessment Toolkit for Transitional Learning Spaces in Emergency Contexts, 2012, UNICEF (Education Section)
Wridt, P., Atmakur, S. Child Friendly Communities East Harlem, 2011, US Fund for UNICEF
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (2020). Young children’s play in high-rise housing: A window into the changing lives of urban Indian middle-class families in Pune metropolitan area [Doctoral Dissertation in Environmental Psychology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York]. https://academicworks.cuny.edu/gc_etds/3861/
Atmakur, S. (2010). Research in public spaces: Safety and human behavior [Masters Thesis in Landscape Architecture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University]. https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/31258/Atmakur_Sruthi_T_2010.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
CONFERENCES & WEBINARS
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (November, 2020) Supporting Stakeholders to Support Play in Cities. Speaker presentation at IPA-World, UNICEF, IPA-India and ACE’s Six weeks of international webinars ‘Making Cities Child Friendly in the Post Pandemic World: Play and Public Place’.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (August, 2017). Playing, listening, engaging and taking action with children. Session Chair at Decolonising geographical knowledges: Opening geography out to the world, Annual international conference RGS-IBG, Imperial college, London, UK.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (September, 2016). Learning by reading and doing. Panel presentation at Post-graduate innovations and challenges: Navigating the research–pedagogy nexus session, Annual international conference RGS-IBG, Imperial college, London, UK.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (August, 2016). A critical analysis of play opportunities for young children living in high-rise housing in India. Paper presentation at Geographies of young children (1) session, Annual international conference RGS-IBG, Imperial college, London, UK.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (November, 2015). Play as a tool in participatory research. Invited speaker at the ‘Kaleidoscope 2015: A national conference on child rights – Participation and play in the urban context’ SNDT University, Mumbai, India.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (September, 2015). Opportunities for children’s play and socialization in dense urban living environments in urban India. Session chair and paper presentation at The influence of place and space on young people’s mobilities in urban and rural contexts session, Annual international conference RGS-IBG, University of Exeter, UK.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (September, 2015). Environmental Analysis of Children’s Play in Fast Growing Cities of Urban India. Paper presentation at Children and nature in the Anthropocene session, Annual international conference, RGS-IBG, University of Exeter, UK.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. and Wridt, P. (January, 2015). Child friendly cities: Two cases – Mumbai and Bhavnagar, India. Paper presentation at the 4th international conference on the Geographies of children, youth and families, San Diego, USA.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S (September, 2014). Play trends in the West: Possible adaptations in India. Paper presentation at International play association India chapter – ‘Kaleidoscope of Play in India 2014’ – conference, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.
Atmakur, S. (March, 2012). Creating play opportunities for ‘all’ children. Paper presentation at conference titled, In defense of childhood: Keeping the joy of learning alive, The City College of New York, CUNY, New York, USA.
Atmakur, S. and Wridt, P. (April, 2011). Child friendly communities, East Harlem. Datablitz presentation at the Second annual all-psychology research day, The Graduate Center, CUNY, New York, USA.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (October 2022). Building an Intergenerational Landscape in High-Rise Housing Developments. Invited expert speaker for Pune’s Real Estate Study Group, Pune, India.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (September, 2020). Evidence Based Design – Outdoor and Play Space. Online guest lecture for Fall 2020 with New York University (NYU) Tandon School of Engineering, New York City, USA.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (January, 2017). Integrated Community Development: Perspectives and Contemporary Debates. Invited panelist for a national consultation on developing indicators for integrated community development. Apnalaya, Mumbai, India.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (August, 2016). Environmental experiences of young children – Using environmental autobiography as a design method. Guest lecture at Dr. B.N. College of Architecture, Pune, India.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (June 2022) Play Diversity: Guidelines for designing play environments for young children. Expert speaker and facilitator for faculty of Indian architecture schools at Council of Architecture – Training Research Center’s (COA-TRC) Online Training Program titled, ‘Child Psychology and Child Centric Design’, India.
Atmakur-Javdekar, S. (April, 2019) Children’s Play for Architects’ and ‘State of Play-India’. Facilitator for two-day training workshop for faculty of architecture from SMEF’s BRICK Group of Institutes, Pune, India.
Teaching & Mentorships
Research project mentorship for Ms. Richa Lamba investigating landscapes responsive to human well-being (July 2022 – Ongoing).
Doctoral education guidance for Ms. Priya R. Khatavkar studying children’s play in urban areas from Visvesvaraya Technological University, Karnataka, India (April 2022 – Ongoing)
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSES
Courses listed below are independent professional development courses that are open to students and professionals in architecture, landscape architecture, environmental psychology, urban design, urban planning and urban studies. These courses are taught by me outside of regular university based-programs.
Introduction to environmental psychology (in-person/web-based)
Child-centric design and planning (in-person/web-based)
Children’s ecologies (in-person/web-based)
Methodology and methods in research (web-based)
Developing a research proposal (web-based)
One-on-one mentorship for PhD candidates (web-based)
PRIOR TEACHING EXPERIENCE
Aug. 2011 – Dec. 2012
Adjunct Lecturer, ‘Children of New York’, Department of Children and Youth Studies, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, New York. Aug. 2010 – May 2011
Assistant Kindergarten Teacher, The Child Care Center, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York.