Bangalore Dec 07, 2016: Indian cities are getting more and more populated with the estimated figure of new urban citizens likely to touch 400 million in the next 40 years. Are the Indian cities equipped for this kind of growth in population? Do our cities have the right solutions to tackle such a growth?

The IIA NATCON 2016, hosted by the Indian Institute of Architects Karnataka Chapter, had several architects and urban planners from all over the world who deliberated on the future of Indian cities in a three day conference in Bengaluru, keeping with its theme, “Imagining the Indian City.”

 “A few solutions are - we need to go vertical now, re-purpose the city, build on existing blocks, plug in new units to existing buildings and giving a whole new fit. We also need to provide more public spaces, release land for other uses, create new mobility systems, electric vehicles, connect our buildings to our neighbourhood and bring in public elevators that connect to these buildings. We can bring in a one mile radius city where we have everything in it, with an anchor building,” suggested architect Alfredo Brillembourg from ETH Zurich.

Most of the population growth in the world (2 billion in the next 30 years) will happen in the slums, and most of this will be in Indiaand Africa. It is not about providing ideal solutions but about providing the right solutions, the right to housing, infrastructure, safe cities and safe homes, added Brillembourg.

“Architecture as a process needs to change to equitabledevelopment, social justice where it is not confined to the elite but addressesall. When tourists visit for architecture, the designed projects instead ofrelating to the local scenario, give a global image. The local scenario isneglected, demolished and considered irrelevant. It is important to see howbuildings sit in context of the city,” opined architect Tatjana Schneider from Sheffield University.

On the topic of rethinking public spaces architect DhiruA Thadani (Urbanist and Board Member of Congress for New Urbanism, Washington DC)said, “Currently most spaces are left unused, open and unusable. Public spacesneed to have an entrance that is easily accessible, and the public space shouldhave a wallpaper window so that the insides of the spaces are visible. Thismonitors the behaviour of the public space, rendering it safe too. Like a parkshould not be walled, but fenced so the insides are evident from outside. Thisoffers safety for the users of the public space.” 

“A street is a public space which is constantlychanging, accommodating festivals, protests, celebrations etc, where they morphto offer space for multiple activities. But now 85% of the street spaces arereserved for automobiles and we are shrinking further the space available,” helamented. 

“Using transit spaces in an urban space is great. The newurban transit spaces like the metro can serve as great public spaces. Makingthem more accessible is also a design challenge. These stations can be mademore vibrant, clean, safe, trendy, exclusive,” suggested architect FranzZiegler, urban designer from Rotterdam

Likewise the underpass spaces can be commercial spaces, thespace underneath the metro can be public spaces that can be utilisedeffectively. If we align the metro with other functions, this would get alignedto the rest automatically, he added. 

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