Design for density and character : Indian context

The character of a city is not what it seems to be from outside. It is the working nature of the whole and its response to resources and consumerism. The challenge for us in aiding the urban process is dealing with density. After all, we are the second most populated country in the world with a very high urbanisation rate. 

Indian urban landscape is made of building blocks on one hand and slums on the other. The manifestation of density in urban context can be witnessed in the unplanned sectors of each city. However, the adaptation of these unplanned settlements to external stimuli reveals layers of micro-orders when observed closely. For example, a bazaar in India has its own order in the seemingly chaotic landscape. The vendor chooses a place depending on feasibility and user experience.

The macro-structure of seemingly chaotic Indian cities somehow follows principles of balance, harmony, contrast, scale and proportion unseemingly working with the surroundings in context. The word context here defines not just the time for which the solutions are to be directed towards but the exchange of  information on a global platform technologically, and its social impact. Understanding the Indian context of urban planning thus involves the study of order in chaos. Indian cities mostly exhibit lack of order which is important to be addressed.

Can we therefore apply this order rigidly in planning our cities? Let’s take the example of a public space like a museum. The challenge is to determine the thread of the story the museum must convey. It involves crowd control and wayfinding. A study of user behaviour would give us sufficient data for solving this problem. When we look at cities though, the number of variables that effect its functioning is huge comparatively. The time period of the user experience and the number and type of users makes it dynamic. The inputs from each source to the city arrange themselves and manifest organically, adapting to context, as against orderly manifestation. When we design cities, we must therefore make room for organic growth and refrain from enforcing rigid order. We must provide freedom for movement and flow. While order is important, issues of human interaction with the city need to be addressed.

There is a need to introspect and move to amend the rules that exist in government legislation as to how we design cities and parts of it. To identify the real problem, observe, study and provide solutions. We must understand the context- aspirations, technology and culture, character- originality despite context, and design for the increasing density.

by sra edu team

Featured illustration : sra edu team



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