Ur­ban de­vel­op­ment along­side eco­log­i­cal con­ser­va­tion is the big­gest chal­lenge: Ar. Rishi Dev, RDAA

Ur­ban plan­ning projects pro­vide Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment along­side Eco­log­i­cal Con­ser­va­tion, which is the big­gest chal­lenge for ar­chi­tects and plan­ners in the cur­rent world sce­nario, writes Ar­chi­tect Rishi Dev, Pro­pri­etor, RDAA.

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The con­cept of Ur­ban Struc­ture Plans is a more con­tem­po­rary prac­tice in ur­ban plan­ning. As op­posed to Mas­ter Plans, a Struc­ture Plan is more re­al­is­tic and sen­si­tive to­wards ground re­al­i­ties and the over­all con­text. It in­volves many lay­ers of plan­ning and co­or­di­na­tion of many ser­vices and dis­ci­plines.

The Struc­ture Plan­ning un­der­goes a thor­ough con­tex­tual study of the re­gion that is de­fi­cient in water and other ba­sic re­sources. The chal­lenge is al­ways to ac­com­mo­date large pop­u­la­tions in a planned area that would be self-sus­tain­ing in all re­spects. Amidst the chal­leng­ing cli­matic con­di­tions like arid and semi-arid con­di­tions the new plan­ning must in­cor­po­rate a green­ing pro­gram for the en­tire city to re­verse the ex­ist­ing ecosys­tem stresses.

In case of Adam Town in Oman and New Kabul City in Afghanistan, the de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion was as re­versible via plan­ning as was it nat­u­ral to the in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion, who had lost all hopes of a mod­ern, de­vel­oped ur­ban land­scape and a world class city. We stud­ied the var­i­ous as­pects of the re­gion like Land Suit­abil­ity, Thresh­olds, Link­ages of Nat­u­ral and Man-made Com­po­nents, Land Phys­iog­ra­phy & Hy­dro Mor­phol­ogy, To­pog­ra­phy and Drainage, and the pos­si­bil­i­ties of Re­source Man­age­ment, Eco­log­i­cal Con­ser­va­tion and Sus­tain­able Neigh­bor­hoods.

The ba­sic con­cept and idea was re­lated to ap­proaches to­wards for­ma­tion of neigh­bor­hoods from com­mu­ni­ties; open space sys­tem linked and knit­ted to green sys­tem and re­la­tion of built to open; net­work plan­ning such as sew­er­age, water sup­ply and so on, all of which were to be more con­tex­tual and in­no­va­tive than con­ven­tional.

Sub dis­tri­bu­tion of land use would fol­low a Lo­cal Area Plan­ning (LAP) ap­proach than mas­ter plan­ning; im­por­tant so­cial and phys­i­cal axis would guide the cul­tural, spa­tial and other mark­ers im­por­tant to the in­dige­nous peo­ple; re­sponse to vil­lages would be based on lo­ca­tional at­tributes and com­mu­nity liv­ing than mere mar­ket po­ten­tial forces.

Through a com­plex web of nat­u­ral and con­tex­tual fac­tors de­vel­ops the main con­cern of pro­vid­ing us­able water to the pop­u­la­tion base with­out go­ing out­side the re­gion. Thus, a study of the slope, veg­e­ta­tion, rain water pat­terns and recharge ar­eas was also car­ried out in depth, which re­vealed a yearly col­lec­tion of water that was enough to sus­tain such a pop­u­la­tion from the same area. The prob­lem was that this water re­source was wasted

The chal­lenge is al­ways to ac­com­mo­date large pop­u­la­tions in a planned area that would be self-sus­tain­ing in all re­spects

due to cli­matic and topo­graph­i­cal con­di­tions, and, more im­por­tantly, from a blind be­lief that this re­gion was a desert, and water could never be har­vested.

From here arose the main con­cept of the Ur­ban Struc­ture Plan. The en­tire plan­ning process re­volved around two main as­pects: Eco­log­i­cal Con­ser­va­tion and Cul­tural Re­newal of age-old sys­tem of Water Col­lec­tion and Con­ser­va­tion Sys­tems. Af­ter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the ecosen­si­tive zones that would re­new the nat­u­ral hy­drol­ogy of the place, the zon­ing of hu­man com­mu­nity spa­ces was iden­ti­fied in the re­main­ing land. Th­ese re­gions would fo­cus on de­vel­op­ment of hu­man set­tle­ments with a fu­tur­is­tic vi­sion and on qual­ity of liv­ing than mere ac­com­mo­da­tion.

So­cial and Phys­i­cal In­fra­struc­ture Plan­ning in all th­ese projects was done in a three-tiered sys­tem wherein the fo­cus was given to the peo­ple for which the city was be­ing planned and not vice versa. Com­mu­nity and Neigh­bor­hood Plan­ning were the unique plan­ning fea­tures iden­ti­fied which would prove to be truly sus­tain­able in de­mo­graphic, so­cial, cul­tural, spa­tial and eco­log­i­cal senses. Each neigh­bor­hood was thus planned for self-suf­fi­ciency in terms of re­sources as well as waste man­age­ment. Plan­ning of each of th­ese projects thus proved to be ‘Smart’, and a model for fu­ture World Class Set­tle­ments that would be.

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