Urban Architecture India http://urbanarchitecture.in Thu, 09 Jul 2020 16:04:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 167566226 All Indian cities are in dire need of planning: Liu Thai Ker http://urbanarchitecture.in/all-indian-cities-are-in-dire-need-of-planning-liu-thai-ker/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/all-indian-cities-are-in-dire-need-of-planning-liu-thai-ker/#respond Sat, 18 Apr 2020 03:14:16 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/?p=301 liu_thai_ker--621x414

Liu Thai Ker is a planner, architect and director of RSP Architects Planners and Engineers (Pte) Ltd in Singapore. Liu spent 20 years at Singapore’s Housing and Development Board starting in 1969, ten of them as chief executive officer, and oversaw the construction of half-a-million apartments in the city-state. In New Delhi for the launch of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems, Liu said in an interview that all Indian cities are in dire need of planning. Edited excerpts:

Where does a city needs to begin to become a good city?

Every city needs to plan. And for big cities, which have over 1.5 million population, the skill of putting roads together and putting industries in the right place becomes quite overwhelming. So any city above one or 1.5 million needs to plan according to the modern concept. But the problem is that this concept is not well understood by politicians and planners.

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AECOM to project manage new Indian city http://urbanarchitecture.in/aecom-to-project-manage-new-indian-city/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/aecom-to-project-manage-new-indian-city/#respond Sat, 18 Apr 2020 03:10:47 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/?p=295 Indi_180

Aecom has won a contract to programme manage the development of a new city in India that will have a population of a million people.

The construction group will plan the city of Dholera in Gujarat – including its land uses and infrastructure – and put in place the management and governance structures to develop it out.

Dholera is the largest part of India’s planned Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), a 1,500km link of developments and infrastructure between India’s two largest cities. Dholera will cover hundreds of square kilometres and is one of seven cities planned along the DMIC route.

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Fixing India’s city-systems http://urbanarchitecture.in/fixing-indias-city-systems/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/fixing-indias-city-systems/#respond Sat, 18 Apr 2020 03:02:08 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/?p=292 construction1--621x414--621x414







Having lost intervening centuries when cities across the world came into their own, Indian cities are struggling to play catch-up

India’s arc of urbanization went into deep freeze under the British Raj. We remained a largely agrarian, land-based economy, while around the world, cities were the catalysts of societies morphing from agrarian to industrial nations. Even today, these cities continue to trigger innovations and fuel progress across the entire spectrum of social, cultural and economic activity.

Having lost the intervening centuries when cities around the world came into their own, Indian cities are struggling to play catch-up. This is evident in Janaagraha’s Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems, which assessed India’s top eleven cities. The report was released recently.

One of the four themes was Urban Planning and Design, where Indian cities averaged 2.7 on 10, while London and New York scored 8.8. Clearly, there are major gaps in the spatial planning of our cities.

Continue reading…

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Livable Cities: Green landscapes and election promises http://urbanarchitecture.in/livable-cities-green-landscapes-and-election-promises/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/livable-cities-green-landscapes-and-election-promises/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 20:19:36 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/2012/02/livable-cities-green-landscapes-and-election-promises.html Trees and green spaces are an integral part of an urban landscape. The great cities of the world boast of some of the most diverse public spaces that are green. Central Park in New York City and Hyde Park in London are just two examples that come to mind.

However in India, there is a near total lack of green urban spaces of that scale. Yes we do have the largest “national park in an urban boundary” claim by way of Borivili National Park in Mumbai, but that’s hardly the center of Mumbai; and even that is being encroached up with drastic results.

Gautam Patel makes a fantastic case of the need for more green space and how the politicians manipulate this theme come election time.

In the run up to Mumbai’s municipal elections, of the many to-be-left-unfufilled promises made by political parties, two were common: less corruption and more “infrastructure”. The latter, in our peculiar notion of what makes a ‘world-class’ city, only means more roads, more bridges. No one promised to make our city more liveable. In my constituency, apart from the familiar talk-to-the-hand and offerings for lotus-eaters, there were many odd symbols for candidates: a sewing machine, an LPG cylinder and something that looked like a pasta machine cross-bred with a meat grinder. Not one had a tree or anything that looked like it.

In the last 20 or 30 years, we seem to have developed an odd view of what constitutes urban development: more grey concrete and fewer trees. Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore have all seen this. A 2008 report, based on RTI applications, showed that Mumbai had lost 25,000 trees to ‘development’ projects; and of those said to have been transplanted, no more than half a dozen survived. South Mumbai is a favoured target, as the wanton destruction of trees along Nepean Sea Road showed. As of May 2011, Mumbai is said to have only a little of 19 lakh trees left. In contrast, New York, to which we so like to compare ourselves, has an average of five trees per person despite having more high-rises than Mumbai, and it has, too, a plan to plant — and nurture — a million more (the 500,000th was planted in October 2011).

Continue reading “Murdering Trees, Killing Cities”.

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Slum-free cities: Freeing slums or freeing lands? http://urbanarchitecture.in/slum-free-cities-freeing-slums-or-freeing-lands/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/slum-free-cities-freeing-slums-or-freeing-lands/#respond Thu, 12 Jan 2012 15:07:49 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/2012/01/slum-free-cities-freeing-slums-or-freeing-lands.html Prof. Yatin Pandya writes an interesting editorial on the issue of slum lands in urban contexts.

Original article here.

Slums have been in perpetual state of persistence in political parlance and policy promises. From slum removal in seventies to slum-networking in 2000, there has been a paradigm shift in addressing slums in urban Indian context. By 2000, it was a realisation that formal systems – government or private, has failed in addressing affordable housing to nearly half of urban population. On the other end, individual initiatives by slum-dwellers have managed to find them basic shelters if not decent housing without any external help. What they have not been able to provide are collective infrastructure and what they do not have is legal tenure of land. The first deficiency makes them defined as slum with squalid conditions while the latter condition describe them as squatments through illegal ownership of land.

The UN defines slums as a building, a group of buildings or area characterised by overcrowding, deterioration, unhygienic conditions or any one of them endangering health, safety, or morals of its inhabitants or the community. This refers to squalid conditions of living and not the legality of land ownership. By this definition even sizeable part of old cities in India, like Shahjahanabad in Delhi or pols in Ahmedabad will get included in it, which are well-known holistic living environments.

What then is the hue and cry about slums in current times? How much of the debate today revolves around improving quality of housing versus freeing up of priceless land on which they locate? Slums of India, unlike those in Latin American cities, do not concentrate in suburbs. They often occupy pristine lands of the cities. Real estate appreciation due to city’s growth becomes their enemy. Gulbai Tekra, which started of as camp for construction workers, and domestic help living by the riverfront are such examples in our city. These settlements applied themselves on unwanted, innocent and perhaps inhabitable lands of the city. But as city developed, they became a part of urban agglomeration and caught attention of real estate hawks.

Housing shortages amounting to 24.7 million corresponds with about 40% of urban households. Almost 42.6 million or 15% of urban population live in slums. Ahmedabad has little below quarter (23%) of its population as slum-dwellers. In Mumbai, over 55% population live in slums. The irony is that this populace occupies only 8% of Mumbai’s total land. If half of the Mumbaikars manages to live in such a small area of land and solve their housing troubles themselves, do we still need to eye these lands for further economic equations? How about we grant these spaces to these dwellers? Security of tenure alone is good enough for people to invest their own resources and improve quality of housing. Studies indicate that even simply notifying slums receives defacto authorisation and that itself has encouraged very noticeable improvements. For example, compared to non-notified slums having two-third houses without toilets, notified ones are less than a third. Underground drainage, road and electricity are nearly double in notified slums, thereby improved quality of life and so on.

Authorising illegal constructions through penalty clause, condoning land grabs for parking spaces, building schools on open grounds or even putting up buildings on reclaimed natural resources are not a form of legalising and granting of city lands? Uprooting slums from their locale and rehabilitating them in far off, isolated places is unsuccessful as loss of social network, deprival of employment and economic base, mismatch between lifestyles and vertical building typologies, as well as severed transport links. Yet we continue to approach the same models over and over again. It is obvious that interest deep within is in freeing urban land for open market development rather than upgrading the slums. If we improve conditions of the slum in situ with infrastructure and amenities, these settlements would seize to be the squalid neighbourhoods as slums. They would emerge as affordable housing stock for millions through private sharing. They will not be a burden but rather a resource. Not a problem but a solution.

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The Design Aesthetic of Modern Indian Cities http://urbanarchitecture.in/the-design-aesthetic-of-modern-indian-cities/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/the-design-aesthetic-of-modern-indian-cities/#respond Thu, 05 May 2011 20:19:15 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/2011/05/the-design-aesthetic-of-modern-indian-cities.html Indian cities have multiple aesthetics. As do all cities, and human settlements of varied sizes all around the world. This has been true right through history.

However Indian cities have a clear demarcation in terms of the urban aesthetics when looked at within the time frame of the last century.

The big four metros, all cities in existence for at least 400 years have an evolved sense of architecture and urban aesthetic that spans from the Mughal times to the British Raj. Each city got its own distinct version of style and look. However this sense of aesthetic took a nosedive post-Independence.

All of a sudden, for every great piece of architecture, there were 100 examples of very banal, characterless buildings. Entire sections of cities, or even entire small cities grew up with no sense of architectural character and style.


This anomaly, compounded with a complete lack of urban planning and vision, created a mish-mash of architectural style that is in most cases a visual nightmare. Things took a turn for the better in the early 90’s when the opening up of the markets brought transformation into India in all sectors. IT Parks, Techology campuses and the supporting housing, retail and commercial needs brought about an architectural boom that has been on a continuous steady rise over the last two decades.

However a total lack of a masterplan and vision for the entire city has created a new jigsaw of competing styles, materials, designs, that somehow don’t fit in all together.

Below is an article by an architect elaborating on the missed opportunity of enhanced infrastructure that would have brought about a disciplined design aesthetic in Indian cities.

What are your thoughts?


Making sense of aesthetics in Indian cities

Srinivas Murthy G, | Times of India, Hyderabad Edition

About three years ago I decided to make Hyderabad my home. I was living in Delhi, city of my birth and education, before moving to this city.

I have been designing projects in and around Hyderabad for the last decade and have been part of its growth story in many ways. It was a strange realisation that only after relocating myself here I started thinking about its existing as a living organism and not just as another destination for business purpose.

Two things that struck me most (or rather absence of them) and probably affect me in many ways are the so called cultural scene that one is so used to in Delhi and secondly, how the architectural sensibilities of people of this historic city changed due to the fast paced development. While the first one is more specific to this city given its strong historical and cultural background that it once boasted of, the second one is about the built environment of Hyderabad, though nothing unusual as many other cities have gone though the same fate during the same timeline. I will reserve the first one for another time and write about the second one first, as being an architect by profession, this moves me both in personal and professional spectrums.

During the last decade or two, many Indian cities have witnessed stupendous growth due to the IT boom abroad and also due to the new era of liberalised economy. Hyderabad’s growth has been watched very keenly and closely by other neighbouring big cities. The city is in many ways like Delhi, more particularly on architectural front. It has an equally important architectural heritage and does not stay too behind in display of wealth and affluence. It has its own South Delhi charms that you can feel while moving around in Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills with large villas and bungalows dotting the landscape.

Importance is given more to the size and grandeur than the aesthetics of architectural design. To borrow from Gautam Bhatia’s comments on architectural scene in Delhi, the Punjabi Baroque is replaced by a hugely Greek, Corinthian and Roman Renaissance styles and if this was not enough, completed it with riot of coloured facades and glass facades to add to fetish to show off.

This is so much different from how Bangalore and Pune responded during their growth years. While Bangalore is known for its small and well built designer homes, Pune has some of the earliest and finest examples of housing in multi-storied apartment type buildings. Architectural professional gained respectability very soon in these cities much to surprise of many even in Delhi and Mumbai. And now the so called newer parts of the city, which incidentally are not more than a decade and half old, still lack some of the basic facilities. No pedestrian safety and footpaths, no decent greenery and plantation, overcrowded and congested roads, no streetlights, and signage is something which one can only dream of, are regular features of these supposedly happening places.

Public utilities like bus shelter and drinking water for commuters, underpasses for pedestrians, drainage channels and communication and electrical services ducts, and the list of requirements appears to be never ending. And on the architectural front, there is a complete sense of chaos and absurdness of design elements. There is no architecture at all. They are all covered with huge and brightly coloured hoardings that make the skyline of the city and glaringly tell you that nobody cares for the aesthetical composition of the street.

It is the rich of the world, who with their huge budgets for advertising are responsible for such ghastly act of taking pleasantness out of our cities. I for one will be very eagerly waiting to see a hoarding on top of one of their spacious high rise villas designed by probably one of the best imported architects of the world.

I always wondered if we needed huge amounts of money or technological knowhow or just simple willingness to provide for some of the basic amenities that make many other cities world over, truly world class. Just one look at any of the cities in the US or Europe, for that matter nearer home, Putrajaya City on the outskirts of KL, Malaysia, or Chinese Cities, we will learn that it is a matter of simple attitude. When will our planning and urban development bodies understand the real meaning of development? When will we, the citizens of our country, get some of the basic facilities? Secondly most of us are not even aware of what we should have and deserve, not only in terms of list of amenities but even the required or desired standards for it, in order to demand these from our system. I for one believe that everything has a demand and supply equation.

As the demand for more features and facility increases, the suppliers will make those things available and at a very affordable price. Isn’t this true in real estate sector? Compared to the demands two decade ago, look at the facilities that every developer is offering today. More aware and educated buyers are at the core of ever improving supply chain system.

And that is where the solution lies. We need initiatives that help people understand the need and importance to improved and aesthetically sensitive built environment through the collaboration of professionals, designers, leaders and local communities. It should strive to promote and encourage the best in contemporary urban planning and development and bring modern architecture, traditional craft and design closer to people. And with such initiatives, the day may not be far, when we will start rejecting a city the way we do our films or music albums if they are not good.

(Author is a practising architect based in Hyderabad and writes on design and architecture in India

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Bhopal 2011: Symposium and Workshop http://urbanarchitecture.in/bhopal-2011-symposium-and-workshop/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/bhopal-2011-symposium-and-workshop/#respond Thu, 21 Oct 2010 23:40:19 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/2010/10/bhopal-2011-symposium-and-workshop.html Twenty five years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, almost all related issues, from its causes to its fallout and legacy remain contentious. The site of the tragedy itself, the former Union Carbide factory is still standing but the structure is fast disintegrating; faced with neglect and imminent destruction. bhopal_photograph

A strategy for the factory’s protection and revitalization needs to address the conflicting views on the factory´s position in the cityscape and mindscape of Bhopal. Over the course of two weeks in early 2011 students and experts from multiple disciplines and backgrounds will converge in Bhopal. They will work together with local citizens in an attempt to understand the tragedy and its site in its conflicting interpretations.

Through exploring the possible transformation of the site into a place of remembrance and a resource for empowering the local community the participants will also address the broader issue of how heritage sites with a troubled legacy can contribute to a better understanding of our times.

More information on their website: http://www.bhopal2011.in

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Amtek Offices New Delhi: Ong and Ong Architects http://urbanarchitecture.in/amtek-offices-new-delhi-ong-and-ong-architects/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/amtek-offices-new-delhi-ong-and-ong-architects/#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2010 23:13:08 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/2010/10/amtek-offices-new-delhi-ong-and-ong-architects.html Ong & Ong is a multi-disciplinary design office with various locations in South East Asia, including one in Chennai.

The Amtek Office Building proposal for New Delhi at first glance looks like an Archigram-esque living organism sited on a street

Amtek Office Building

Introducing traditional Indian science of construction, the “Vaastu Shastra,” to modern architecture, the Amtek Office Building with its entrance facing the East seems to bring the flow of energy in building designs. [design.fr]

From their website:

Located on the popular commercial strip in New Delhi, Tolstoy Marg, Amtek is distinctively outstanding even from afar. The concept of Amtek Office Building came about upon client’s request of wanting an iconic building with flexible space. This resulted in Amtek’s oval-shaped, glass-cladded facade and it is built in contrast to New Delhi’s traditional urban setting.

The external façade is fully cladded with glass to allow for maximum exposure and clarity from inside. Alumininum shading devices in the form of “armours” are cleverly constructed on the exterior to shield against its extreme climate. There is a separate lift for the sky restaurant which creates a vertical silhouette against an otherwise annular shape.

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Delhi Urban Workshop http://urbanarchitecture.in/delhi-urban-workshop/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/delhi-urban-workshop/#respond Thu, 21 Oct 2010 22:58:02 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/2010/10/delhi-urban-workshop.html header The inaugural three – week session of the Delhi Urban Workshop, starting on  January 3, 2011, will bring together practitioners in the urban professions – architects,  urban planners, designers, administrators, engineers – as well as students, educators  and scholars and others sharing their interests.

The Workshop will explore current  urban challenges and issues facing this ancient and legendary city that  later evolved into Mughal and imperial capitals, and since Indian independence,  has become the dynamic center of an increasingly influential nation. The themes to be examined will include planning and development, transportation and  infrastructure, environmental conditions, social and economic change and metropolitan  growth.

Workshop activities will consist of lectures and discussions, field trips to key  sites and locations, visits to organizations and guided small group projects in  various parts of Delhi. Weekend trips will be made to Chandigarh and  Agra/Fatephur Sikri/Jaipur. The Workshop will be led by senior faculty from  leading universities in Delhi as well as experienced professionals, with the  participation of key staff from public and private agencies.

Workshop meetings will be held either at the striking new building of the Alliance  Francaise or the lively Habitat Center, both in the green and pleasant Lodi Estate section  of New Delhi. Participants will stay in comfortable accommodations near the meeting  place. There will be ample time to see Delhi’s fabled attractions, attend cultural events  and become familiar with the city.

The cost of the Workshop, is $3, 475 per person, double-occupancy, excluding international air travel.


email: info@delhiurbanworkshops.org

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IIA National Convention: Lucknow Dec 2010 http://urbanarchitecture.in/iia-national-convention-lucknow-dec-2010/ http://urbanarchitecture.in/iia-national-convention-lucknow-dec-2010/#respond Thu, 21 Oct 2010 16:13:17 +0000 http://urbanarchitecture.in/2010/10/iia-national-convention-lucknow-dec-2010.html iialogoThe NATIONAL CONVENTION of THE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS for the year 2010 is being held at Lucknow, UP on the 3rd, 4th & 5th ofDecember, 2010. This National Convention is being organized under the aegis of the UTTAR PRADESH & UTTRAKHAND chapter of the Institute.

A large number of member-delegates, eminent personalities, people from allied professions, builders and construction-professionals from all over the country will attend this convention. The convention has been named ‘IIA NATCON 2010’.

The theme of the Convention is ‘SUSTAINABILITY : Global Problems- Local Initiatives’. In today’s time nothing can be more important than the optimization of the use of natural resources and the built-environment to sustain itself on minimum use of energy and yet provide the best ambience for human functions, their comfort and development.

The main theme has been sub-divided into sub-themes namely:-

a. Role of Policies and their Implementation in achieving a sustainable built-environment.

b. Role of Design in achieving a sustainable built-environment.

c. Role of Construction Techniques in achieving a sustainable built-environment.

d. Role of Products and Materials in achieving a sustainable built-environment.

In the context of today’s world the importance of achieving a sustainable built environment can neither be denied nor belittled. Architects play an important role in the type of built environment we achieve, and that role they play to the best of their knowledge about Sustainable Architecture. It is this knowledge-bank we seek to enhance  at this convention.

This is to request all members of the Indian Institute of Architects to take that extra step and share their knowledge and make us more adept at handling Green / Sustainability concerns. We invite all members to send us material on the theme for publication in the Souvenir to be released for the Convention in the form of:-

a. Papers / Written Articles

b. Caricatures

c. Photographs

d. Cartoons, etc.

Material on other subjects of general interest to Architects may also be considered for publication. Outstanding articles / papers may get the opportunity to present the paper at the Technical Sessions of the convention.

As time is a pressing factor, it is requested that the above material reach the desk of the Convener Ar Asthana kkasthana@hotmail.com or iia.natcon2010@gmail.com latest by November 15th, 2010.

We once again request your whole-hearted cooperation which will go a long way to the benefit of all.

Thanking you

Ar. Atul Srivastav

Coordinator, Academic Programme.

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