Ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents plan their own cities

Three award win­ners tell us how smart cities should be planned, trans­port sys­tems stream­lined and streets made ac­ces­si­ble and safe for pedes­tri­ans

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Rozelle Laha

Young­sters are con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment. They fol­low In­dia’s smart city mis­sion closely. They are wor­ried about safety and se­cu­rity of women issues in In­dia’s cities and won­der how things can im­prove. That is what a re­cent awards func­tion in Delhi for the best ur­ban plan­ning the­sis seemed to sug­gest.

He­mant Sharma of School of Plan­ning and Ar­chi­tec­ture - Delhi, won t he an­nual JP Bhargava award for the best ur­ban plan­ning the­sis on the Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of Fu­ture Smart Cities in a Re­gion: A case study of the state of Kar­nataka.Purva Sax­ena from SPA-Bhopal won the sec­ond award for her the­sis on Low Car­bon Mo­bil­ity Plan f or t he CBD: A c ase study of MP Na­gar, Bhopal; and Christy Ann Cheriyan of CEPT- Ahmed­abad re­ceived the third award for her work on As­sess­ment of Tran­sit Trans­fer Ex­pe­ri­ence, the case of Ben­galuru.

Choos­ing smart cities smartly

When asked about how he got the idea for his the­sis, Sharma said though more and more cities were be­ing added to In­dia’s smart cities list, when he vis­ited con­fer­ences and sem­i­nars re­lated to the mis­sion he found very few peo­ple were sure of what they were talk­ing about. This made him take up re­search on what the smart cities plan lacked and the chances of its suc­cess. “It was the same old con­cept with a fancy new name,” he says.

As for the flaws in the smart cities plan, Sharma says it takes care of a city or a node but seeks to pro­mote is­lands of de­vel­op­ment in a sea of back­ward­ness. “What we need is bal­anced de­vel­op­ment and not just de­vel­op­ment in big cities. The smart city con­cept over­laps with re­lated city con­cepts such as in­tel­li­gent city, knowl­edge city, sus­tain­able city, tal­ented city, wired city, dig­i­tal city and eco-city,” he adds.

“I looked at as­pects such as how even small com­pa­nies can get greater re­turns. This mis­sion is go­ing to be funded by pub­lic money and for­eign aid/loan, so it’s the duty of the gov­ern­ment to use the money ju­di­ciously. We need good re­turns. We don’t need to just in­vest money in a city and get no re­turns later. As a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, we can­not af­ford that. That’s what my study rec­om­mends,” he says.

Sharma’s the­sis has been awarded the JP Bhargava award under the Best Ur­ban Plan­ning the­sis. For this, he drew up a list of cities in Kar­nataka that are suit­able for the smart city mis­sion. He an­a­lysed 356 ur­ban cen­tres of Kar­nataka on the ba­sis of 17 pa­ram­e­ters rang­ing from avail­abil­ity of wa­ter re­sources, nat­u­ral drainage pat­terns, e-gov­er­nance, phys­iog­ra­phy, avail­abil­ity of land for fu­ture growth to re­gional trans­port link­ages and mo­bil­ity. He fi­nally came up with a list of seven cities that in­cluded Hospet, Kop­pal, Man­ga­lore, Ul­lal, Bi­japur, Ra­mana­gara and Daven­gere.

Sharma is cur­rently work­ing on his the­sis in which he is try­ing to put to­gether a list of smart cities and plans to present it to the gov­ern­ment as a pro­posal.

Buy a car only i f you re­quire one

A stu­dent at ur­ban plan­ning at SPA, Bhopal, Purva Sax­ena was con­cerned about en­vi­ron­men­tal safety and that is what got her in­ter­ested in a study on low car­bon modes of trans­port. “The main prob­lem to­day is the in­creas­ing num­ber of mo­torised ve­hi­cles and de­creas­ing non­mo­torised ve­hi­cles. For most peo­pleamean­sof trans­port rep­re­sents their sta­tus in so­ci­ety. That is the rea­son why even fam­i­lies that do not re­quire a car buy one,” says Sax­ena.

Her the­sis fo­cuses on pro­mot­ing low car­bon modes of trans­port and sug­gests pol­icy ini­tia­tives such as in­tro­duc­ing no-ve­hi­cle zones in the city, pro­mot­ing e-rick­shaws, bike shar­ing sys­tems and e-rick­shaw charg­ing sta­tions.

“If such a plan is im­ple­mented, it is def­i­nitely go­ing to make life easy for stu­dents go­ing to Bhopal to at­tend coach­ing classes. My study is not par­tic­u­larly about how the tran­sit sys­tem should grow; it is more about how peo­ple want it to grow. It is about the changes they want, about how streets can be­come ac­ces­si­ble and safe for walk­ing or when they use such modes of trans­port,” says Sax­ena.

Make trans­port sys­tems ac­ces­si­ble

When was the last time you found it dif­fi­cult to lo­cate a rail­way plat­form? Per­haps ev­ery time you vis­ited a sta­tion? Christy Ann Cheriyan, a stu­dent of CEPTAhmed­abad, who too faced prob­lems while trav­el­ling by pub­lic trans­port de­cided to come up with a few rec­om­men­da­tions based on pas­sen­gers’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I have per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­enced in­se­cu­rity at bus sta­tions. I feel safety of fe­male pas­sen­gers needs to be given top pri­or­ity,” she says.

Her rec­om­men­da­tions are


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