The pioneer behind NanoCity is none other than Sabeer Bhatia, the â€œlifelong entrepreneurâ€? best known for co-founding Hotmail. In the early 1990s, he revolutionized the way people connect on a virtual level by way of making the Internet personal and offering a free e-mail service. Along the same lines, he is back to revolutionize the way people interact on a daily basis, not only with each other, but with their immediate environment and future generations. Bhatia foresees NanoCity as an avant-garde Indian metropolis with potential to become the worldâ€™s â€œintellectual-property capital.â€? It will be a city of innovation, where todayâ€™s lifestyle choices and technological advances will have tomorrow in mind. If the rise of silicon technology marked the 20th century, then nanotechnology will be the wave we ride into the future. As its name suggests, NanoCity will be the place where learning (Nano) and lifestyle (City) become one and the same. It will accomplish this goal by providing sustainable and efficient infrastructure from the outset, so the residents and future generations of the city can thrive and focus on fostering a lively knowledge economy.
In the early fall of 2006, Sabeer Bhatiaâ€™s vision became official. The Haryana state government approved the NanoCity project and entered into a private-public partnership with Bhatiaâ€™s Nanoworks Developers (P) Ltd. An 11,000-acre site, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and within close proximity to the city of Chandigarh, was earmarked for private development. In the future, NanoCity will transition into public governance by means of Indiaâ€™s long-established traditions of democracy.
The Design Expedition
In the early spring of 2007, Bhatia teamed up with The Berkeley Group for Architecture and Planning (BgAP) to research and design NanoCity. BgAP is a consortium of professionals affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley, who collaborate on various urban policy and design challenges. A group of UC Berkeley faculty, students and alumni made a 9-day trip to India to visit the site, study the topography and existing conditions of the land and meet with Haryana government officials, as well as local villagers. Over the course of the next several months, the team used the findings from this fieldwork and subsequent research to inform every design decision. The result of their efforts is a city planned for the future, but on a foundation of innovation that will preserve landscape deeply rooted in the past.
â€œI want to leave a legacy behind for people and maybe an example for the development of the rest of the country.â€?