Sustainable Urbanism International is a research and design initiative committed to the conservation of cultural heritage, and developing strategies for promoting culturally and environmentally sensitive strategies for urban development. SUI was established as a non-profit NGO in Bangalore in 2003 and is also a research unit at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University in New York.

SUI works with governments, communities, and private investors to develop strategies for urban development that bring about the benefits of modernization while minimizing the cultural dislocations arising from it.

At a time when increasing urbanization, uneven economic development, and depleting resources are making cities in the 21st century unlivable and unsustainable, SUI’s commitment is to making cities and settlements culturally, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

The balance between conserving non-renewable resources and using them carefully to achieve the goals of development is one that needs to be carefully considered by communities and cities everywhere. In addition, at SUI we are sensitive to the discordant realities of uneven levels of modernization in cities outside the developed ‘West.’

Our goal is to minimize the dislocations caused by the confrontations between traditional knowledge systems and practices and the changing social and economic structures, modern technologies, and the cultures of globalization. We respect the resources and knowledge that individuals and communities represent and seek to empower them to manage change through our work.

Rather than a single universal definition of sustainable urbanism, we emphasize culturally embedded processes in diverse settings. While balancing the sensibilities of a globalized and interconnected world, we recognize the importance of local context and the historicized cultural particularities of a place in achieving sustainability.

Through all our activities we seek to create bridges and negotiate the difference between local, historical, vernacular ways of building and inhabiting, and modern, hi-tech, global needs, and resources. SUI’s vision is of an equitable world and where all citizens engage with modernity positively on their own terms, and for their sustained benefit.

Partners we work with include communities, foundations, governments, businesses.