Christopher Charles Benninger



Christopher Charles Benninger is an American-Indian architect and planner. Born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1942 as the second of two children, Benninger grew up in Gainesville, Florida, where his father was a Professor at the University of Florida. He studied urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and architecture at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, where he later taught (1969–72). Benninger studied under Josep Lluis Sert and worked in his studio. He was a protégé of the noted economist Barbara Ward and a member of the Delos Symposium group, contributing articles to the journal Ekistics. He was influenced by the group's founder, Constantinos Doxiadis who led the Ekistics movement. This brought him into association with Buckminister Fuller, Arnold Toynbee, Margaret Mead and Jaquline Tyrwhitt. On the invitation of B. V. Doshi, in 1971 he resigned from his tenured post at Harvard and shifted to Ahmedabad, India as a Ford Foundation Advisor to the Ahmedabad Educational Society, where he founded the School of Planning. In 1976 he shifted to Pune, India, where he founded the Center for Development Studies and Activities. In 1983 Benninger wrote the Theme Paper for the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements 1984. In 1986 he was engaged by the Asian Development Bank to author their position paper on Urban Development, arguing successfully the case for extending financial assistance to the urban development sector. Benninger is on the Board of Editors of CITIES journal (UK), and on the Board of the United States Educational Foundation (Fulbright Foundation) in India. He is a Distinguished Professor at the Centre for Environmental and Planning Technology University, Ahmedabad, and on the Board of Governors of the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. While in Ahmedabad he innovated the concept of Site and Services, an approach to housing providing access to shelter via developed small plots, allowing poor families to construct their own homes, according to their means. For the World Bank and the Madras Urban Development Authority 1973 he designed over 20,000 such units in four locations, the largest being at Arambakum in Chennai. With the advent of institutional housing finance in India 1972 he created a unique neighborhood of small ground level houses for about five hundred households in Jamnagar, Gujarat. This was the first shelter program funded by the Government of India for the economically weaker section of society. In 1976–79, using funding from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), he built a township for low income households at Yusafguda, in Hyderabad with over two thousand houses, public amenities and shopping centres. This was the first project of the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority and provided owners with road access, street lights, storm drains, electricity and sanitary cores. Around these core facilities low income families could construct their own houses. For the World Bank and the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, Benninger was part of a team that devised the (slum) Busti Improvement Program. This approach brought sanitation, potable water, electricity, storm drains, paved lanes with street lighting and community services to millions of low income citizens of Kolkata.

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