Indian cities are not only known for their density but their complex hybrid structure where ceaseless migration has forced urban spaces to alter to accommodate the multiple needs and aspirations of residents. The emerging fabric is sans the unique element that each region prides in. This development also raises concerns about the ecology, sustainability, marginalisation and more specifically the quality of the public spaces inhabited.
Recognising this, the Indian Urban Designers Institute, Karnataka Chapter (IUDI-Karnataka), proposes to initiate a dialogue on urban issues with people from various segments. The two-day programme, titled ‘City Futures’, scheduled on March 20 and 21, at the Bangalore International Centre will host a panel discussion on ‘Envisioning Bengaluru’ involving stakeholders from governing bodies and citizen forums. A presentation on ‘City Narratives’ will have change-makers working to transform the city, elaborating on their individual work. The programme will also host an exhibition of curated urban design works, ‘City Futures: Bengaluru Speaks’. The exhibition will be hosted subsequently in tier-II cities, including Belagavi, Hubballi, Mysuru, and Mangaluru, to engage the public and start the conversation there.
“The tier-II cities are growing rapidly and it is important to address the direction of their growth before they deteriorate”, says architect U. Seema Maiya, Media Coordinator, IUDI-Karnataka. According to her, everyone raises issues, with some offering solutions, “but we need to look beyond the solutions as the subtle things that go beyond the design have their strong impact”. The objective of starting the dialogue is to bring together people with varied visions and backgrounds, and start the collaboration on a larger forum where the agendas attended to go beyond specific projects. This not only forges partnerships but also creates mutual responsibility and accountability, she adds. “Communities have to connect and carry forward what is initiated while what can be done at a larger policy level needs to be looked into.” Since every urban space comes with its own unique history, it is also important to identify what should be conserved. “All spaces can be re-purposed and hence the question would be which ones and how should they be”, states Maiya. When there is clarity on how the future of the urban space is to be envisioned and the community takes ownership to build and maintain, the ensuing transformation would be one that is comfortable, friendly and sustainable, she sums up.
Be it looking at the neighbourhood park as a thickset of trees akin to a natural forest, reclaiming the fast disappearing historic fabric of the neighbourhood, or rejuvenating the almost non-existent waterbody in the locality, the discussion aims to focus on the expected quality as well as the experience that an urban space should offer.