Cities Public Realm Social Responsibility

Poor planning keeps millions in India’s slums

Millions of Indians are forced to live in squalid slums, not because they are impoverished, but because city planners have failed to build low-cost alternatives, a government report said Tuesday, warning the problem was getting worse.

As India’s economy has boomed in recent years, India’s predominantly rural population has flocked to the cities hoping to get a slice of the growing prosperity. A massive shortage of affordable housing has left many no choice but to live in makeshift tenements with few _ if any _ basic utilities, according to the country’s first report on urban poverty.

Housing projects would provide residents properly constructed homes, linked to basic infrastructure like sewage, electricity and running water.

That kind of housing would be in sharp contrast to the slums that dot most major India cities, with their endless warrens of small houses and shops built of corrugated metal, cement and tarpaulins, public latrines and tangles of electric wiring, often illegally linked to the main power lines.

News Public Realm

The City and Emerging Technologies

The Real Time City by Andrea Vaccari

The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed, alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure. While architecture has shaped the built environment to satisfy urban dwellers aesthetically and to accommodate their functional needs such as face-to-face interactions and travel, pervasive systems shape electronically mediated interactions in urban space, including use of both fixed and mobile displays and wireless communication (see CityWare).

A major issue is space and its relationship with behavior: how do we design the ambient created by fusing electronically created interaction space with architecturally created physical space? Another major issue is infrastructure: how do we provide interaction and interoperability that scale up to city-level pervasive systems, while ensuring that they function appropriately and merge aesthetically with urban spaces, materials, forms and uses?

Continue reading here.

Infrastructure Public Realm

Building urban India

That we really don’t know what India’s urban infrastructure price tag is going to be is a big challenge

by Ramesh Ramanathan

India’s cities face many challenges, and one looms larger than the rest: How much will it cost to build our urban infrastructure?

Among the recent sources of urban infrastructure cost estimations are:

—From JNNURM cities’ capital investment plans and projects data, extrapolating the estimates from the reports of 63 mission cities across urban India indicates a requirement of Rs8 trillion for 5,161 cities.

—The Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) estimates the requirement for 100% coverage of safe water supply and sanitation services by 2021 at Rs1.73 trillion.

—RITES’ estimate of Rs2.07 trillion needed for urban transportation in Class I cities over the next 20 years.

These sources supplement the more formal estimates for urban infrastructure requirements, such as the India Infrastructure Report, 1996 (also known as the Rakesh Mohan committee report); the 10th Plan of the Planning Commission of India, which contains estimates for water and sanitation services, and the Zakaria committee report of 1963, which is still used as a basis for estimating urban expenditure.

Cities Environment and Climate Public Realm

Open Spaces for the People

For the people

Much of our experience of a city depends on its public spaces. Yet in India, citizens seem unaware that they have a right to a hospitable city. We examine some of the reasons

Himanshu Burte

We hear a lot about cities in the West competing for the loyalty of their residents. In India, we hear muted noises about the need to attract people to our cities so that investment flows in.

No one will deny that much of what people feel about a city depends on their experience of its public spaces. Are the streets safe? Are they fun to walk down? Are there lots of things to do, apart from eating in sidewalk cafes (though that is a pleasure in itself)? And yes, where will the children play?

Walk around Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata, for instance, and the answers to these questions vary in detail or nuance. But the broad problems stay the same. Unlike many Western cities and suburbs, a lot is happening in our towns and cities. In the West, the city is often empty. In India, it is bursting with activity. But there is not enough of some things (good parks, playgrounds, even simple signage and street furniture), too much of others (private vehicles), and all flow together in extremely disorganized and inefficient ways. The reality is that public space in our cities is not hospitable.