HomeEntrepreneurManushi Ashok Jain is Redesigning Urban Spaces With Sponge Collaborative

Manushi Ashok Jain is Redesigning Urban Spaces With Sponge Collaborative

Manushi Ashok JainManushi Ashok Jain –

How can urban design solve modern world problems?

Manushi Ashok Jain is pursuing this question to its conclusion through her work as the co founder and director of Sponge Collaborative.

A meritorious student since the beginning of her school days, Manushi had always been a person of consistency and vision. After finishing her schooling in Chennai, she decided to take that ambition into her higher studies.

She chose to do a Bachelors in Architecture (BArch) from Anna University, before moving to New York’s Pratt Institute for a Master’s in Architecture and Urban Design (MSAUD).

Over the next few years she trained with various established architects and architectural institutes, across the globe, from New York and Singapore, to Mumbai and Bengaluru. But it was only while working for Sasaki Associates in Boston USA, that she developed her philosophy of urban design, that she has carried into her present work.

Philosophy of Urban Design

During her tenure with Sasaki Associates, Manushi went to Afghanistan with the express purpose of restructuring and designing five war ravaged city. This consignment opened up the horizons of possibility of the discipline for her.

The work she did in Afghanistan sowed the seeds of Sponge Collaborative. She discussed her ideas with two of her teammates, and later used that foundation to form the beginnings of her institute.

It was 2020 that she and nine others participated in EnteKochi. It was a national level competition that involved visualising the future city of Kochi.

Manushi’s work focused on infrastructure that championed conservation efforts. Her team suggested the use of blue-green infrastructure as opposed to the traditional grey, to help conserve water.

This design bagged them the first position in the competition, out of 121 participants across the country, and set off the journey of Sponge Collaborative.


With the establishment of the collaborative, Manushi returned to India. Since then she has had no shortage of projects. Each of them prioritises conservation and eco friendly efforts essential for long term existence and survival of the urban milieu and infrastructure.

In 2021 the collaborative was tasked with designing Chennai’s first sponge park, a space tht would collect, filter and finally store excess rain water.

With her conservationist ethic and like-minded partners, Manushi Ashok Jain has integrated, self sufficient urban vision across the world, and designed and upgraded more than sixty urban spaces. Her collaborators credit her soaring imagination and altruistic motives as the reason for her continued success. Manushi herself is much more humble, and stakes her professional triumphs to an unfailing optimism.

She concedes that the discipline of urban design is a new and esoteric idea in India. The haphazard extension of most cities, beyond their predicated boundaries, makes it difficult to achieve comprehensive designs that include all their avenues.

But Manushi is not stumped by obstacles, instead utilizing them as opportunities to experiment with the limits of her knowledge.

The latest feather in her cap is the recognition from Forbes India, who have included her in their 30 under 30 list. Manushi herself is characteristically humble about it, hoping to receive more diverse work in its wake.

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