Interdisciplinary Research Program – TUDelft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
NWO-DST Water4Change [W4C]: Integrative and fit-for-purpose water sensitive design for fast growing livable cities

Cooperation The Netherlands – India on Urban Water Systems. Transdisciplinary Programme co-funded through NWO Dutch Research Council and Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (project n. W 07.7019.103 | DST-1429-WRC).

Project website:


Project Coordinators:

Delft University of Technology (TUDelft)  | Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR)

Project Partners:

CEPT University
Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT)
Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar (IITG)
Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM)
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT), Erasmus University
University of Twente
IHE Delft, Institute for Water Education

IRC Wash

The Water4Change (W4C) research programme addresses the complex challenges to urban water systems faced by fast-growing secondary cities in India and the sustainability transitions that are needed for short- and long-term mitigation of, adaptation to and coping with urgencies and uncertainties. By co-creating a Water Sensitive City Framework and a Fit-for-Purpose Guidelines, W4C aims to enable water sensitive development, accounting for site specificities, knowledge and practices, presenting innovative interventions, practices and design, and policy guidelines.

Scientific and Contextual Challenges

India is a country which is rapidly growing into urban agglomerations showing infrastructure deficits and adaptation gaps in relation to current and future climatic, societal and economic change. Water stress – pressure on the quantity and quality of water resources – throughout India results yearly in serious problems of water shortages, flooding, pollution and ecosystem damage. In fast-growing secondary cities in India there is a wide variability of these impacts, showing the geographical and contextual reasons behind of potentially contaminated sites, as well as management of water resources. Additional challenges being faced by cities are rapid urbanisation, demands for climate adaptation, shift from a traditional linear organisation to co-production among different stakeholders and the need for experimentation/ open innovation fostering new economic models. This makes political agreement on priorities difficult to achieve without improved information and understanding, particularly about the site-specific dynamics that could contribute or counteract urban water systems regeneration, climate change mitigation, adaptation and the sustainable management of water resources.

Uniqueness of the programme

Society, Built and Natural Environment, Infrastructure and Technology, and Governance are key realms that in a reciprocal combination determine the ability to successfully deliver sustainable change. Solutions outside this reciprocal combination will most likely cause resistance expressed by socio-cultural, economic, legal, or technical failures. As these realms evolve in time and space the conditions for these reciprocities will change. The programme is unique in understanding the evolving conditions, constraints and opportunities posed by the 4 realms and determining applicability of solutions and their future change. The programme starts with understanding the spatial, ecological, economic and socio-cultural dynamics, existing technologies and urban water policies. Innovation is found in the smart combination of available technology and policy options, as well as the strategic development of adaptive governance capacity to ensure the implementation of site-specific actions. Three cities are used towards a learning matrix for knowledge sharing of approaches.

Reporting ‘space, time and everyday life’ in the Delta