India as the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world ,a developing nation and its climatic variations compared to UK makes it as a very difficult place to apply and accomplish urban design principles of UK as it is.
During British Rule (1600 -1947 AD) in India new urban development principles are adopted in various major cities of India to accommodate British in India and there philosophies; concept of old city and new city in a city in India is developed by British to preserve or not to disturb original city form by new developments.
All these Built Development in all the major cities governed further growth & development of the city to a huge extent till date. Post independence several new agencies/bodies are formed in concern of urban development in India along with other areas of required growth for a developing nation.
Town planning in west has evolved as the branch of architecture dealing with urban design. Due to complex process of large scale intervention in a city shifted role of planners from design to design management. As a result of 1960’s economic decline a gradual shift in focus from quantity to quality of urban space occurred and gave birth of urban design as a specialized field of study and practice.
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Delhi being the will be a prime mover and nerve centre of ideas and actions, the seat of national governance and a centre of business, culture, education and sports. the city needs to integrate its history, the great past and the modern aspirations and developments reflected around, into one integrated policy document, which encompasses the political, socio-economic, the environment, the cultural and the globalizing attitude and aspirations of the people. Infrastructure, irrespective of the segment, has to be developed at an unprecedented pace, and investments Targeted accordingly. The cornerstone for any development, at this scale and critical mass has to be the planning and the tracking of the implementation. Every agency involved, be it the governmental agencies, the private institutions, the corporate houses, the NGOs, the services – both urban, rural, tertiary & local have to have one beacon of policy guideline bestowing them to a common direction. Delhi needs to be evolved and developed into a world class city, and special emphasis to be placed on physical infrastructure and modern outlook. (source : http://delhi-masterplan.com/ , THE PERSPECTIVE FOR YEAR 2021)
Study of Urban Design and practice is very new compared to urban planning, from past 20-30 years urban design term used in studies and practice and for the first time Urban Design term is introduced in Delhi master plan 2021 (an official document ), mentioning and explaining some urban design principles which can be co-related to to some extent to present urban design principles of UK in subset form.
Urban Design as per Delhi Master Plan 2021
A city is an assemblage of buildings and streets, system of communication and utilities, places of work, transportation, leisure and meeting places. The process of arranging these elements both functionally and beautifully is the essence of Urban Design.
Delhi had a traditional Urban Design, which is reflected in the glory of 17th century Shahajahanabad and New Delhi. In the course of time Delhi has been becoming amorphous aggregate of masses and voids.
The Walled City of Shahjahanabad has certain urban form characteristics. The Jama Masjid is a dominating feature located on hilltop and is different, both in form and scale from the other developments of the city. The boulevard of Chandni Chowk was its commercial centerpiece, with certain visual character terminating at two landmarks viz. Red Fort and Fatehpuri Mosque at its ends.
In the planning of New Delhi in 1916, the Central Vista was conceived as a landscaped stretch to form continuity between the ridge and the river Yamuna. The stretch with the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the India Gate at two ends has tremendous visual quality and is one of the finest examples of Urban Design and monumentality in planning in the world.
The Jama Masjid was visually linked with Parliament House and Connaught Place.
The following aspects need to be considered to arrive at the basis for policies affecting the urban fabric:
(i) Areas of significance in built environment.
(ii) Visual integration of the city.
(iii) Policy for tall buildings.
(iv) Policy on unhindered access movement, parking and pedestrian realm.
(v) Policy on Hoardings, Street furniture and Signage.
(vi) Urban Design Scheme.
(vii) Policy for design of pedestrian realm.
(viii) City structure plan and Urban Design objective.
(ix) Policy for conservation of Heritage precincts Buildings and Zones.
(Source : Delhi Master Plan 2021,urban design)
Even the term and its role and explanation of Urban Design for the first time in an official document, most of these principles are already in practice by practicing urban designers in India to produce better urban places as their responsibility towards the city and improve their individual portfolio.
Some selective case studies of recent urban scale projects are added to explain the involvement of urban design principles in practice in capital city New Delhi.
Case Study 1
Prjoject : Bhaikaji cama Place district center
Project of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) as one of the outcome of Master Plan Delhi 1962 in the year 1965.
Bhikaji cama place master plan area follow up projects considered Bhikaji
cama place as context
Old existing residential development (Mohanmadpur village) to integrate with the BCP
Bhikaji cama place is central business district on the Ring road along with a boundary shared by an old village in Delhi, master plans consists of more than a dozen buildings with different plot sizes,mixed land use, different ownership of the plots, FAR was fixed for every landuse in the master plan and accordingly the plot sizes,
Few development controls were also the part of this master plan like external material, opening proportions, setbacks, signage and hoardings etc.
Urban design vision of this product is to achieve harmony in the aesthetics of built environment and public spaces to be climatically suitable to become public places, segregation of pedestrian and vehicles, cars are treated as necessity and treated like one but importance is given to pedestrians, height of buildings is regulated by fixing the FAR in relation to the plot size.
This project is completed in late 80s, and despite of different ownership and architects involved this area do have a harmony throughout the complex, designer of follow-up projects in the vicinity considered this complex as the context and resulted in makeable distinctness of the neighborhood in Delhi .
HUDCO Bazaar (project sharing the boundary with existing village in master plan) mediates the scale and activity between the rest of the complex and Mohamadpur Village.
This project is a very good example to analyze the urban design practice in India as its master plan tried to adopt urban design principles from west after modifying them to Indian social and climate context.
The only urban design fault in this project is no public involvement after office hours makes this place dead after office hours and on weekends
Urban design aspects involved:
Unhindered access movement, parking pedestrian realm.
Urban design scheme
Pedestrianization of Business District
Real state orientated
TOD(Transit Oriented Development)
Case Study 2
INTEGRATION of SHAHJAHANABAD & NEW DELHI
An Urban Design Proposal
MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF DELHI
INTACH, Delhi Chapter, December 2009
Once a beautiful city Shahjahanabad (presently called as Old Delhi) was destroyed by British intervention after 1857, including introduction of railways through the city and several other things are destroyed in order to accommodate train station and other related infrastructure.
The deliberate ignorance in Lutyen’s design of New Delhi resulted a big buffer between the two leaded to more demolition of Shahjanabad and lastly MPD 2021 is unable to mitigate the situation.
The deliberate exclusion of Shahjahanabad form design strategy of New Delhi describing it as sanitary cordon off area resulted in a very strong division in all directions, and now through the process of time even in mental map of the city.
Need to Integrate Shahjahanabad with New Delhi
SHAHJANABAD (OLD DELHI)
New intervention projects are worked out (MCD civic centre etc.)
Retrofitting of roads
Urban renewal schemes of various important and heritage buildings in the area
Interventions precipitated built form growth in the buffer area between the perceived old and new.
In the buffer area between Shahjahanabad & New Delhi ,greenery ,linkages and plotted urban form have under gone visible transformation that often appear to be unrelated to each other. The MCD tower, as a new city level destination should be a rallying point in city, zonal and local level movements of vehicles and people.
The area has Master Plan and Zonal level roads with ROWs incorporating through traffic and footpaths and marginal access roads for pedestrians and vehicular access to plotted growth.
Traffic management has to work with existing ROWs and mass transit oriented development.
Delhi has to be RETURNED TO THE PEOPLE not to the cars.
Revised Public Transport
Revised Road Hierarchy
Revised M.V Traffic
Revised N.M.V Traffic
Revised Special Streets
Proposed Tram Circuit
All these outcomes are based on extensive study of the area and regenerating the whole Shahjahanabad. Urban design aspects used are such as :
Areas of significance in built environment,
Visual integration of the city,
conservation of Heritage precincts Buildings and Zones,
Design of pedestrian realm, etc.
Promotion of Public domain along with water bodies,
Pedestrianization of Historic Precincts
Some other example likes ‘Saket District Centre’ – it is mere plotting without any thought for the principles. ‘Nehru Place’ district centre and ‘NFC Community Centre’ though have interesting layout and open-built relationship, but they are not in proper condition due to lack of maintenance.
Principles like visual integration of the city is a modified subset of Enrich the existing aspect, Design of pedestrian realm is of Places for People, Mixed use is of Mixed use and form, etc. The positive aspect is that India can look forward to UK urban design principles and project as precedents for new developments throughout the country and learn from them, the negative is in India these principles cannot be practiced in one go due to different set of complexities and have to achieve every single aspects step by step in its own category.
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Urban design principles practiced in are very much relevant to India as their objective is to achieve good built urban places especially when roots of most Indian urban cities are laid during the British rule in India, Urban Design process is and will be similar but the products will definitely differ because of social, economic, infrastructure, climate differences and above all India has a great and long history to integrate with the Urban Fabric. For example: public squares in India will not work as it does not respond to the tropical climate, it will be very hot ,and radiation from hardscape will also kill the evenings after sunset. Being a developing economy dependency on cars and parking cannot be neglected where as in UK, due to developed economy and low density along with efficient public transport systems, place making (streets, squares, pedestrianisation etc.) is easily possible. Indian cities have to cater a much larger density compared to UK, presently New Delhi is catering ±200 DU/Hectare almost4times compared to cities In UK. All the public spaces cannot be open for everyone for 24 hrs as supported infrastructure to maintain these places are not in place.
Urban Design Practice in India have a great influence of Ancient cites, built-open relationship has a strong respond to tropical climatic conditions of India which British considered important and modified incorporated in their design scheme during their rule in India, and hence it should be considered as good precedents for new development also.
From my belief and understanding India is far behind to formulate new urban design principles but certainly is and will produce good model solutions and approach for urban built environment
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