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Meet the Faculty

Arne M. Färber : Arne M. Färber is a German hydrologist turned entrepreneur who now works with unique audio systems, handmade from natural materials. He has played an instrumental role in advising the Ice Stupa project on various artificial glaciers experiments in Phyang village in Ladakh.


Dr. Ashwini Kumar Patiyal: Dr. Patiyal is Professor in the Department of Architecture and Planning, Malaviya National Institute of Technology (MNIT), Jaipur. His research interests focus on architecture in hill areas, sustainable building practices, environmentally friendly and disaster resistant architecture.

Prof. Patiyal received his Ph.D. in architecture and planning from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee. His thesis explored the existing state of building regulations in the Indian Himalayan region. His research highlighted the seismic vulnerability and the environmental sensitivity of the hill towns which suffer from the currently inappropriate building regulations. This research thesis was published in Elsevier. He has also published extensively in both reputed international and national journals on the topics of sustainable architecture and green buildings. He is also the author of two books on sustainable neighbourhoods and multi-storied buildings in hilly regions.

Prof. Patiyal is also an editorial board member of the International Journal of Landscape Planning and Architecture and the International Journal of Environmental Planning and Development.


Gitanjali JB: Gitanjali is a social entrepreneur and educationalist with extensive experience in both social and business ventures. She brings the right mix of corporate, academic and entrepreneurial experience of over 20 years to any enterprise. After her Post graduation in Business Management from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB), she worked for 8 years in the corporate sector within India and abroad. Thereafter, she has been a successful entrepreneur for the last 14 years having started and scaled up ventures in various industries like energy, infrastructure, publishing and healthcare. She has been associated with HIAL right from the start as its Founding Member & CEO.


G V Krishnagopal: G V Krishnagopal is a social entrepreneur with more than 17 years of experience in the livelihoods sector and is currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of ALC India. He completed his Post-Graduate Diploma in Rural Management from the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). His primary focus and interest has been in development of producer owned collective enterprises. A man with a vision, he is a firm believer in dharma, and strongly believes in the power of enterprises to transform the lives of the less fortunate. He has to his credit the incubation and promotion of Mulkanoor Women’s Cooperative Dairy, one of India’s most successful rural enterprises.


Himmat Anand: Himmat Anand has extensive experience within the tourism industry both in India and Europe. He has worked in senior management positions with SITA, Jet Airways and Kuoni. He is also the founder of Tree of Life resorts and hotels. A boutique getaway on off-beat destinations with a focus on the outdoors, Tree of Life hotels offer a unique experience within the tourism industry. Mr. Anand is one of the pioneers in the field of experiential tourism.


Sanjay Prakash: Sanjay Prakash is the co-founder of the Future Institute, a not-for-profit, multi-disciplinary applied research platform seeking to undertake and enable initiatives that envision the urban future of India. He is also the principal consultant of his design firm, SHiFT: Studio for Habitat Futures which has worked on projects such as designing Mirambika School. This project is considered as a pioneering interpretation of learning space representing an evolution towards openness and acceptance of the natural environment.

His area of practice and research includes passive and low energy architecture and planning, hybrid air-conditioning, autonomous energy and water systems, bamboo, wood and earth construction, community-based design of the common property, and computer-aided design.

He was also a partner of DAAT and Studio Plus, firms that predate his current firm. His name and work is mentioned in the twentieth edition of one of the main reference work in architectural history, “A History of Architecture”, by Sir Bannister Fletcher.


Shruti Kunnel: Ms. Sruthi Kunnel is a communication professional with 10 years of experience in journalism and communications. An MBA graduate from Hyderabad Central University, she then obtained a Masters in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has worked for organisations like Indian School Of Business (ISB) and DuPont in Hyderabad, before becoming a Teach for India fellow, where she taught 28 third/fourth graders for two years in a low income private school. Along with Mr. Krishnagopal, she has been instrumental in designing and developing the Transforming India Initiative, and is currently heading the program.


Shubhendu Sharma: Industrial engineer Shubhendu Sharma was working at Toyota in India when he met Japanese forest expert Akira Miyawaki, who’d arrived to plant a forest at the factory, using a methodology he’d developed to make a forest grow ten times faster than normal. Fascinated, Sharma interned with Miyawaki, and grew his first successful forest on a small plot behind a house.

Today, his company Afforestt promotes a standardised method for seeding dense, fast-growing, native forests in barren lands, using his car-manufacturing acumen to create a system allowing a multilayer forest of 300 trees to grow on an area as small as the parking spaces of six cars — for less than the price of an iPhone. Afforestt has helped grow forests at homes, schools, and factories. Sharma seen improvement in air quality, an increase in biodiversity — and the forests even generate fresh fruit. Afforestt is at work on a platform that will offer hardware probes to analyse soil quality, allowing the company to offer step-by-step instructions for anyone who wants to grow a native forest anywhere in the world.


Sonam Wangchuk: Sonam Wangchuk is an Indian education reformer and innovator from Ladakh. He has been instrumental in reforming the educational system in Ladakh through his organisation, SECMOL (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh). His designs for passive mud buildings in mountainous regions can keep the inside temperatures warm even in -30 degrees Celsius. Led by Wangchuk, SECMOL has won the International Terra Award for the best building in July 2016 at the 12th World Congress on Earthen Architecture in Lyon, France.

He is also associated with the Ice Stupa technique that is used for storing winter waters in the form of ice heaps that can be utilised in summers when villages face water shortage. He has been awarded for his contributions to education and his technological innovations. Most recently, he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2018.


Sunny Verma: Sunny is the executive director of Afforest, a company that promotes forestation projects on barren lands. Afforestt has forged partnerships with several forestry organisations in India, such as Dharti Amrit (working in deserts in Western India) and the Alaap People’s Foundation (a non-profit that focuses on “greening” the Himalayas).


Suparna Bhalla: Suparna Bhalla is the Principal Architect at Abaxial Architects Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi. She graduated with a masters degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998 and has since been on the visiting faculty of various architecture schools in Delhi-NCR.

She has been a regular columnist with ‘Business Standard’ and now writes for several design journals. She is also on the Editorial Board of ‘Green Life’ magazine and the advisory for the Future Institute. She is an Architect and Conservationist who has worked on a number of architecture, conservation and interior projects in India and abroad.

She has been involved in the Adaptive Re-use and Renovation of Heritage buildings and palaces, as well as Urban Conservation and Renewal strategies. This coupled with her independent practice gives her strong insight into the various aspects of project conceptualisation, design development, and detail. She is currently working on projects in coordination with civic and regulatory bodies towards the establishment of an integrated framework for development and historic revitalisation. Mrs. Bhalla is an active member of INTACH and a prolific writer. She has been a principal of Bhalla Ribeiro Bhalla since 1999.


Swati Sharma: Swati Sharma is a professional architect with over 7 years of experience in urban research and city-regional planning. She specialises in action research and analysis, sustainable infrastructure planning, architecture and design of urban development projects. Currently, she is working as an architect and urban planner at the Future Institute.

She has demonstrated a high level of expertise and knowledge in leading and executing multi-disciplinary projects across emerging themes of urban policy, liveable habitat studies, impact studies, sustainable development, and urban governance.


Dr. Talat Ahmad: Prof. Ahmad is an Indian Earth Scientist who is currently serving as the Vice Chancellor at the University of Kashmir. Prof. Ahmad has about 65 research publications to his credit. He has also been working on various sponsored projects, including Geochemical, Isotopic and Geochronological characterisation of Granotoids from the Central Indian Tectonic Zones (CITZ) and Central Indian Shear Zones (CISZ)-Constraints on Pre-cambrian Crystal Evolution, funded by Indo-Russian, ILTP Project, and Proterozoic mafic magmatism in the Central Indian Tectonic Zone (CITZ): elemental and isotopic constraints on crystal evolution and geodynamics. He is also the recipient of many prestigious fellowships including the Fellow of Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and J. C. Bose National Fellowship, 2011.