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Cities Environment and Climate Infrastructure

Freedom Park in Bangalore Set to Open in November

A vital green space to beat the city centre rush, topped with a slice of history. On offer is a unique experience, as the BBMP gets ready to open the long-in-the-wait Freedom Park to the public in November, this year.

The 20-acre park, coming up in the former central prison premises on Seshadri Road, has had a long drawn record, ever since plans for the park were finalized as early as in 2002. According to the BBMP officials, delays in awarding contracts have been a key reason for the slackened pace of progress. With the run-up to the launch gathering steam, it’s time to look ahead.

It’s business as usual at the construction site. Labourers are busy completing the landscaping works, as work on reviving the prison barracks is also on. The basic structure of the 150-seater amphitheatre is in place, along with the auditorium.

A K Gopalaswamy, engineer-in-chief, BBMP, told The Times Of India that 80% of the construction work has been completed. "About 10 acres of the park will be covered under landscaping. The barracks and the hospital blocks are being retained as heritage structures,” he said. The central tower and the prison’s entrance block are the other structures that have found their way into the park. The park has been categorized under six broad areas: general, museums and exhibitions, contemporary art, retail, performance spaces and water features.

The Freedom Park is coming up on a budget of Rs 10.27 crore and will also have six acres of land as a dedicated space to hold protests and rallies. This space, on the lines of Hyde Park in London, has been proposed as a solution to the traffic concerns that protests and rallies in the city centre trigger. Gopalaswamy said the BBMP was in the process of deciding on outsourcing an agency for maintenance of the park.

DESIGNERS SPEAK

The design to convert the prison into an urban park was awarded to Soumitro Ghosh and Nisha Mathew-Ghosh of the Mathew and Ghosh Architects Pvt Ltd after they emerged winners in a nation-wide contest, in 2003. The competition was initiated by the BBMP with the support of the erstwhile Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF). The design has won international awards, including the Cityscape and Architectural Review Awards (2007) in Dubai.

The vision behind the design is to recover the depleting green cover and urban lung spaces in a densely developing area and give back the "void’ ‘ to the city, according to the two architects.

What followed is the model of a multi-use urban park that offers state-of-the-art information, cultural and leisure joints, children’s play areas, light and sound shows and more.

ALL-IN-ONE

Joggers/walkers track (3,000 sq m), children’s play area (5,200 sq m), jail museum, information corridor gallery, book museum, children’s interactive museum in the old cells yard, tree museum – outdoor exhibition park, Freedom Wall stretch of the old jail with permanent multimedia art, sculpture court, pathways junctions, designer souvenir shops, book shop, traditional craft stalls, 150-seater amphitheatre, 50-seater enclosed theatre space, open plaza for gathering, water pool at main entrance and natural localized water percolation zones visible only in rainy seasons.

Original article here.

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