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Reimagining public spaces

S.R. Praveen
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Students of Architecture redesign Mananchira Square on canvas

different hues:A painting envisaging the Mananchira Square in the future at an urban frescos competition organised by the Indian Institute of Architects on the banks of the Chaliyar river in Kozhikode on Sunday. —Photo: K. Ragesh
different hues:A painting envisaging the Mananchira Square in the future at an urban frescos competition organised by the Indian Institute of Architects on the banks of the Chaliyar river in Kozhikode on Sunday. —Photo: K. Ragesh

Public spaces contribute in their own way to the mundaneness of everyday life in that some of them remain just the same in every era, even as the world around moves on fast.

Though this contributes in evoking a sense of the bygone, they too need a dose of revitalisation so that they continue to invite the succeeding generations also.

On Sunday, a group of architecture students from various engineering colleges in the city expressed on canvas their ideas on injecting the much-needed energy into these spaces. The Mananchira Square served as a model public space that was re-imagined in a myriad ways at the ‘Urban Fresco’ competition organised by the Calicut chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA). The contest took place on the scenic banks of the Chaliyar river. For the students from the DG College of Architecture, Mananchira represents the centre point of a human’s thumb, the patterns of which are unique for each individual whereas they all have a converging point.

“We imagined the place as a converging element for people of varying tastes. Strangers are being brought together by making them participate in activities. For those who do not want to participate in anything, a passageway is designed from which they can watch everything. A floating stage to conduct a variety of programmes is situated in the pond adjacent to the square,” says Aparna Haridas, a second-year Architecture student of the college. A common idea for most of the teams was the breaking down of the walls surrounding public spaces like Mananchira. They designed it as an open space visible from outside, inviting everyone to be a part of it.

The team from National Institute of Technology, Calicut, (NIT-C) went in for a wider approach, imagining the whole area surrounding Mananchira as a heritage area. “The existing space is not dynamic. So we included the Comtrust factory building and the main road adjacent to it also as part of bigger heritage area. There should also be more entry points to make it more accessible,” says Avyay Premnath, a final year Architecture student at the NIT-C.

Mananchira became a meditative space for the students of MES College, who also designed a perforated platform floating on the adjacent pond as an avenue for visitors to look within. A few other teams used the canvas as a timeline representing the way Mananchira had changed over the years and the ways they are expecting it to change from now on.

“These drawings are not in anyway a suggestion to the authorities to develop Mananchira in a specific pattern; rather it is a way of exploring the possibilities in developing public spaces,” says P.P. Vivek, secretary of IIA Calicut chapter.

“This is an initiative to understand the thought process of the next generation of architects. It also serves as a bridge between architects and society,” says Vinod Cyriac, chairman of IIA-Calicut.

S.R. Praveen

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