Title of the project: Namma Sthala – Urban Protean Retrofitting
Name of the student: Spandana Yogaanarasimha
College/University : Dayananda Sagar College of Architecture
Location : Shavige Malleswara Hills, Kumaraswamy Layout, Bengaluru
Year of graduation: 2019
“The unprecedented growth experienced by the city has led to uncontrolled expansion of infrastructure, challenging the existence of public open spaces in this city.”
Bengaluru is located on the South Indian peninsula. Thus, Bengaluru enjoys a salubrious climate all-round the year. The undulating terrain in the region has facilitated creation of a large number of lakes. This led to Bengaluru having hundreds of such water bodies through the centuries.
These open spaces were seriously affected with the increased demand for real estate and infrastructure, consequent to urbanisation. One of the fastest growing cities in the country, Bengaluru has been leading in the growth of Information Technology based Industry; along with being the principal administrative, cultural, commercial, industrial and knowledge capital of Karnataka.
Now a Cosmopolitan city with a strong background and lifestyle, it has become a hub for various leading commercial and educational institutions, and industries. It has ever since been facing an unchecked urban growth, hence its growth patterns are irregular and complex with crowded urban core and fast tracked and uneven processes of change at the periphery. This uncontrolled growth has led to fastidious transformations as well as urban form leading to deterioration of biodiversity, increased pollution, and no “spaces” for people, and consequent impacts on human health and well-being.
The boom in the growth of Bengaluru has led to quadrupling of built-up area, organic growth of land use, and corresponding loss in green cover by 30%. Decreased number of lakes, parks and open space for public use are a visible consequence of the same. Along with a direct effect on environmental sustainability; urbanization, industrialization and migration has also lead to degradation of social and cultural sustainability.
With the city’s unprecedented growth, the large number of public open spaces diminished over the years.
Initiatives to ease congestion on road networks have led to axing numerous road-side trees.
Many lakes have been converted into residential layouts, bus stands, play grounds, stadiums, etc. Quite recently there have been serious attempts by sociologists and urban planners to characterize the city.
James Heitzman in his paper “Becoming Silicon Valley” has analyzed the nature of growth that the city experienced, while bringing out the ingredients that led to the transformation of planning methodologies and spatial planning tools for the city.
In this profile, an attempt is made to bring out the status of current infrastructure and various facets of planning and governance. In recent years, there have been efforts to address this by improving the public bus service system, and building a Metro.
The current urban scenario of Bengaluru is trying to mimic the culture and lifestyle of the west, but are not able to do so in an efficient manner. The city has an abundance of unused public open spaces, low street and pedestrian activities, poor pedestrian safety, chaos and congestion in vehicular traffic, and diminishing parks and lakes. Most of the public activities and hangout spaces are restrained within the walls of large malls and complexes. The negligible street activity is a result of poor public infrastructure and has led to poor accessibility, safety and equity in the built environment.
But today the trend and quality of lifestyle demands for more active and interactive public spaces that can have multifunctional facets.
The streets of Bengaluru have become 10 times more crowded; challenging the movement and flexibility of its users. Hence to conserve our open spaces we need to transform them into usable yet open public spaces that can enhance the street life of the city and act as a catalyst for its positive development.
“The changing urban space, demography and people’s life style has resulted in new needs, which are not being fully met by the traditional public spaces It is hence important to transform the unused public spaces into social active spaces which are safe and inclusive of all the present trends..”
A public space is a place that is generally open and accessible to people. Roads (including the pavement), public squares, parks and beaches are typically considered public space. To a limited extent, government buildings which are open to the public, such as public libraries are public spaces, although they tend to have restricted areas and greater limits upon use. Although not considered public space, privately owned buildings or property visible from sidewalks and public thoroughfares may affect the public visual landscape, for example, by outdoor advertising. Recently, the concept of Shared space has been advanced to enhance the experience of pedestrians in public space jointly used by automobiles and other vehicles.
But is that enough in the present scenario where people expect more in a public domain?
With the growing urban fabric and providing for the needs of the common, we tend to forget catering to the needs of the uncommon and the stakeholders, mainly being the people living around a considered area.
Considering Bangalore to be an urban space growing sporadically, cutting down on the green spaces and several other functions to fit in the amenities required for the urban city, we are forgetting the spaces required for several activities that are vital for our everyday needs and also vital for the growth of the urban space itself with the changing generations and the socio-economical barriers that we once had.
We require spaces that defines the generation and its various functional needs; to give them spaces which are not just flexible but are also modular to cater people throughout the urban fabric. We also require public spaces that can adapt to the developing interests and the functions.
URBAN PROTEAN RETROFITTING talks about giving spaces for functions that are hidden in plain sight and also functions which are unrecognized and not given importance to, taking into consideration the stakeholders and their importance in making a public space in the city of Bengaluru. It is about giving flexible, variable and adaptable public spaces which encompasses the need to be fulfilled in several regions of an urban layout.
- The main objective of the project is to provide adjustable and flexible spaces for the unrecognized functions in the city and also functions required by the stakeholders.
- It is to create a safe, vibrant and multidisciplinary public spaces that caters to the functions and the activities being considered and also the people throughout the city.
- To design a modular prototype which can be repeated throughout the urban fabric at a smaller scale so as to tackle the issue at an urban scale which also optimises the functionality and efficiency of the module at site level.
- It is to also ensure the involvement of people and residents at site level creating a better public interaction and involvement at city level.
- The aim is to design spaces within the module which is flexible based on area and also volume which can be varied throughout the day with varying time. To also remember on how this space responds to the function it caters to and at what particular time. Hence the objective is also time-specific and its modulation.
- Also considering corridors and areas and to solve the micro level issues on hand to get a better result on a macro scale of the urban city.
“Architecture has to have a metaphor, it has to have a story, a meaning,” – Travis Price.
Strategies followed to achieve the language:
- Evaluating the conditions of the existing scenario and to list down functions that connects back to the community and their requirements. It also deals with tackling different socio-economical groups and catering to different generations so as to connect the community with the spaces, bringing in a sense of responsibility.
- To bring in recreational activities, events and social gathering spaces to make it more community friendly and to also give the community the responsibility of the space to be designed.
- To prepare concepts for a public space that includes details on amenities (including seating, lighting, and public art), landscape architecture, urban design, programming, links to the rest of the community, and more. This plan is typically summarized in a narrative describing possible short-term activations along with a long-term plan for the space.
- Designing of the space that supports the activities that will take place there. Based on the space to be able to adapt to the varying needs of areas and volumes with varying time throughout the day.
- Low-cost, low-risk strategies to remake public spaces. The changes could include new amenities, such as portable, adaptable, and modular units which can be easily constructed over the existing urban pattern.
- To make the unit accessible for the public based on transit and also walkability and usability and hence to make the unit interactive with the public which is open throughout the day for different purposes and needs of the communities and generations being tackled.
- Easy and quick construction process and also use of green spaces within the unit itself.
Significance and outcome:
- The outcome is to change the way that spaces are perceived to be fixed and what it gives function to in an urban context considering the community.
- To change the way public spaces work in the existing scenario and to put out the modular design to show on how the spaces and the functions could be worked out and how it tackles the needs of communities in Bangalore.
- To bring in change for the communities, age groups and socio-economical groups being tackled upon and giving them a sense of responsibility over a public space that they require and to also make sure that the spaces are not misused.
- How the module can be repeated throughout the existing urban area so as to bring about change in an urban scale.
- Also to bring back the ecological and economical importance of Bengaluru in a Micro and at Macro scale.
Site selection is based on the accessibility by the people in and around each area and also people all around the city. It is also based on last mile connectivity concept and future modulations.
Several sites chosen along the metro line based on the concept ‘of utilizing the power of 10+’ the sites chosen are mainly public nodes i.e. the metro station points along the lines and hence connecting several such sites as a public breathing space at a macro level in city scale. The selection of the corridor/area is based on the micro level issues identified within the region.
Each node of the Sthala is classified into different types of nodes based on:
People , Function and Time .
Hence the project in general combines the nodes, functions and the people with the conundrums to make the urban fabric of Bangalore, theirs.
It is to give the city a new meaning and a new definition with its mutation being controlled by the PEOPLE themselves.
These two ideas drive the project in a particular direction where it takes into account the idea that the people hold the ultimate fate of the city, not by the vested interests of a few individuals or corporations. To revive a dying city is no easy job, but it can be done. Bit by bit. One tree at a time. One site at a time.
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