Urban Issues and Architectural Interventions Redefining Indian Sustainable Smart Cities

Jamshedpur A Town Within a Park Within A City

Taking notes from its heritage and culture, as architects and planners, Creative Group, with over four decades of architectural and engineering consultancy practice, tries to highlight in this article the typical urban issues that present challenges in designing process, simultaneously articulating the interferences that designers face from other sectors involved in the construction and building practice. Moving forward with the philosophy that "A built form should not be treated as a dead mass of brick and concrete, but as a living organism, allowing it to breathe with nature," the practice, has demonstrated sustainable smart developments like Airports, Intermodal Hubs, Educational Campuses, Shopping Complexes, Railway Stations and have conceived the vision plans for some of the upcoming cities like Jamshedpur and Erode.

Prof. (Ar.) Charanjit Shah, Founding Principal, Creative Group

The fast paced growth of the Indian economy, particularly its cities has produced an urban crisis, one that is marked by the lack of adequate infrastructure and growth management as well as by sharp social divisions that are bluntly stamped in a landscape of materialistic enclaves. In this context, there are numerous calls for a more decisive and vital type of planning that can 'future-proof' the cities. Though, many experiments are being executed in aspirations of providing a better infrastructure which gave counter productive results and therefore such piecemeal interpretations shift the focus from the main issue and do not provide any permanent solutions. It has been observed and also debated at most of the professional platforms that an integrated approach towards city infrastructure development needs to be addressed in a holistic manner, rather than unravelling issues with a segmented and fragmented approach which ultimately results in temporary shifting of the issues and perhaps, we are unable to solve and understand the complexity of the matter of city development which chokes the cities and leaves no breathable human spaces.

History Speaks Volumes

Taking examples from our own past and how Indian cities have developed over the years, our modern settlements owe a great deal to the ancient civilizations like Indus Valley or Mesopotamia among others that considered the various factors that translate into a healthy human settlement.

Creating planned cities according to human requirements is a trend that started with these civilizations. A well-planned street grid at the time when there were no vehicles and an elaborate drainage system hint that the occupants of the ancient Indus civilization city of Mohenjo Daro were skilled urban planners with adequate knowledge of city services, drainage etc.

Indus Civilization Mohenjodaro
Grid Street Planning as evident in the Indus Civilization
Source: www.science.nationalgeographic.com
The Great Bath at Mohenjodaro
Source: www.imgkid.com

Interestingly, the "Greath Bath" at Mohenjodaro is called "the earliest public water tank of the ancient world" wherein the water was discharged by a huge drain, making it one of the best known structures of the civilization.

NBM&CW May 2016