Imagine a Kozhikode city where pedestrians need not cringe in fear when vehicles roar past, where the walking space is not just a narrow space between a gaping sewer and a potholed road.
In what may become a hearty welcome to the weary pedestrian, a group of young architects attached to the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), a national body of architecture professionals across the country, has drawn up a series of plans where pedestrians can use streets, all to themselves.
The IIA has chalked out a concept called the ‘Streets of Change’ to connect the city’s historical locations and green spaces into a single network of walkable streets.” Their vision for the city streets would be put up for debate at the Design Street Build expo to be organised from August 16.
“The concept called ‘Streets of Change’ seeks to connect the important green spaces, open spaces, heritage locations, and urban locations of the city as a single network of walkable streets through a series of green and pedestrian connectors,” Vivek P.P., architect and secretary of the IIA Calicut Centre, said.
Vinod Cyriac, chairman of IIA Calicut Centre, said the projects were intended to start a dialogue with the public. “We as professional architects wanted to do something for the public, connect with the public. As of now, public buildings and roads are just constructed for the sake of it. They do not even fulfil their basic functions, leave alone aesthetics. We have started this dialogue to capture the values, culture, positivity, and overall improvement of society,” Mr. Cyriac said.
For starters, the architect body’s plans include a pedestrian-friendly stretch that extends from the south end of the St. Francis Road banking the Kozhikode beach to the old Kozhikode Corporation building. This particular route is envisioned to wind through the famed Kuttichira locale, weaving through the network of cross-cultural settlements, which still remind one of the port city’s role as a once prominent trade capital.
“Kuttichira’s many old roads and small streets create a network used as trade links from the beach to the core of the city,” say IIA’s project proposals.
Then again, the casual walker can also travel the Silk Street Road and proceed to Copra Bazaar Road, Big Bazaar Road, Gujarathi Street Road, Kuttichira Road, Gunny Street, Halwa Street, and Mint Street. The proposals suggest that “with minimum intervention, the existing condition of these streets can be used as supporting elements to make the walk more exciting”.
The proposal seeks to introduce a concept of “flexible streets,” where a road is open for vehicular movement in the mornings and transforms itself into a food street during the evenings and late hours, during which food vendors can line it with their carts.
It says that an ideal street for this would be the Customs Road. “The idea would bring in life to the area by attracting a major crowd from the beach area and from the city,” it claims.