Shaping a new capital city to fit Indian life:
Exploring the Thresholds, limits and in-between zones
This organising theme for the workshop arises from the spaces of interaction between things in India: between buildings and the street, between people, functions, cultures, between the urban and the rural speeds and ways of life. Through this theme, the Naya Raipur Masterplan can be understood as a framework that needs to be inhabited and enriched at different scales, so it can become a real, living city. Four topics are proposed under this main theme, to stimulate the workshop teams. The topics are neither mutually exclusive nor comprehensive and the teams have debated them during their work and also moved beyond them to develop their own responses.
Four Topics for the workshop to be explored
The masterplan includes mixed-income housing, which is a positive step towards inclusivity. Cities, though are made of many different elements, bound together by infrastructure, so to think beyond only mixed housing, what are the elemental and infrastructural needs of a ‘City for Everyone’? How can the new city accommodate the inevitable slums, both as an economic system and as a housing system? Retail has a special place in Indian life and is dependent on the symbiotic relationship between formal and informal, micro and macro; how can such relationships be sustained in a new city? How can the new administrative, educational, healthcare and industrial facilities be connected to support public life and improvement in the city? The life of the Indian street is dependent on mixity; how can this be planned for?
2.Public transport and urban density
Public transport has especially many levels in India, and the road is shared between many speed levels, not in dedicated lanes; These transports are intimately connected with the life and small scale all along the road. Indian cycling and walking distances vary greatly: 10-20 kms is a normal distance to bike from village to work, 4-8 kms by walk is also normal. How can the public space of the street be best organised to continue to support this critical connection between the different scales of transport and the mixed urban scales? Should the traffic be segregated, or will this work against the urban life? Indian transport is not simply about moving from A to B. How is the local scale transport related to the intercommunal and logistic scales?- Logistic scale: between Chattisgarh’s towns , ports (Mombaï, Kolkotta, Vizag), mines,…airport- Intercommunal scale : intermodal nodes, between BRT and local bus lines, and cycle / pedestrian lanes,…rickshaw lanes,… – Local scale: pedestrian and cycle lanes, crossing roads and green and blue framework, rickshaw lanes.The new city infrastructure includes a BRT and improved rail connections, to link with Raipur. The interchange nodes will become pressure points for urbanisation. How can development be controlled, or encouraged in more sustainable concentrations or forms? How can we articulate all these levels in these specific places, from the big to the small scale? Charles Correa’s plan for Navi Mumbai provides one example of how these issues can be managed together.
3.Space and water as social resources
Water bodies, prevalent in the area, are the most significant social spaces. Their religious and functional importance supports their social use as gathering spaces, for washing and playing and for reflection. In the new city, the functional and social purposes of water are more segregated, but is there a risk that the social value of this important resource becomes too narrow? Are there ways of continuing to combine the different functions?
Within the urban fabric, even in Raipur,
courtyards perform both environmental and social functions. Charles Correa identifies the courtyard as a necessary feature of urban life: The courtyard is not simply a space, but a proportion of building to open sky. These open to sky spaces have a usability factor : 70% x 75% (75% functions outdoor, during 70% of the year) = 50% of an enclosed room, much cheaper than a built space.
Correa says these spaces take several forms:
courtyards and terraces: for cooking, sleeping
the front door step: where children play,…
the water tap or village well
the principal open space used by the whole community
The masterplan of Naya Raipur contains much open space, but no courtyards. The sense of enclosure and sequence of spaces is what counts, not the quantity. How can these vast, new open spaces become inhabited in these traditional ways?
4.Positioning of the city
How can the complexity of a real place be communicated? This is not simply about marketing, but about the kind of place that Naya Raipur will become and the direction of travel towards it. Although the future cannot be predicted, the aspirations for the city will inform its future and set forces in motion. The three preceding topics will only be realised if they are commonly understood to be aspects of the character of the new city. The first step in establishing Naya Raipur is the new administrative capital, but the objective is for a rich and diverse city with a broad range of functions. The Masterplan includes a variety of functional categories, such as Industry, Education and so on, but within each of these there can be great diversity and interaction: industrial use can range from high-tech through to home-based industries; education can be formal and academic, but through more employment-based education and training can also bridge the gap between rural and urban ways of life. This pattern of functional interactions will develop a ‘character’, by which the city will come to be known, but will also depend on the measures taken in the early stages of development and construction.
Exploring the topics
The teams have visited sites in Raipur, Naya Raipur, the villages in the Masterplan area and new housing developments in between. The workshop has a reference library and there have been conferences and a context document giving detailed information about the situation. The pilots have constructed massing models to show the typical scale of the fabric of the new city and a comparison neighbourhood from Chandigarh, which has a density 10 times as high as in Naya Raipur.
The state of Chhattisgarh: Raipur / Naya Raipur are in the central, developed belt whilst in the north and south are undeveloped forests and rural areas, home to numerous tribes. Exploitation of the rich mineral resources in these areas has met with protests and the Maoist ‘Naxalite’groups are highly active in these areas.
Introduction days: visits
Sat. 17th November
The participants conducted a tour of Raipur, beginning with breakfast in an Indian coffee house. Built around a tree next to the bus station, it is 150 years old. A city of over 1 million inhabitants, according to the latest census, Raipur is structured around the junction of the major intercity road NH6 and a route running north south. Most notable in the city are the water tanks, or ‘talabs’ at which people wash, sit and pray. ‘Gole’ (meaning round in Hindi) Bazaar is the next stop: the commercial area radiates out from the circular centre as a series of tight passages, with different types of shops clustered together. In nearby Sadar Bazaar there is a traditional, three-storey courtyard house, which has been preserved; most other examples having been in-filled due to the high value of land in the centre of Raipur. The generous space of the courtyard in the centre is surprisingly calm, so close to the activity of the commercial areas. A doorway at the rear opens on to cowsheds. The next stop, Kankali Talab is a small tank, with the usual temple, tree and steps. The tank is on the edge of Purani Basti, an area of the city characterised by short narrow streets. Krishna temple is one of many temples in this area, with two other adjacent temples all knitted into the tight urban fabric. After exploring the inner spaces, the visit continued to Dhudhadari Maat. Essentially it is an urban village, on the edge of the main urban agglomeration of Raipur, with a more rural character. The large tank has less structured edges than the others in the centre and the arrangement of the temple, tree and buildings has the character of a village square. Returning to the centre, Budha Talab has been redeveloped with a European–style walkway that is only accessible at certain times of the day. The tour continued past ‘the White House’: the Raipur Metropolitan Corporation building and on to St Paul’s Church, an older Christian Church currently being extended. In the Afternoon after lunch in the Babylon Inn, there were visits to some recent housing projects outside Raipur. The first is Wallfort city: a premium ‘resort’-style gated development with Italinate villas, swimming pool and modern facilities. The second, Boria Kala is a large development, some 15km from the city centre by Chhattisgarh housing board. Largely unoccupied, part of the development is providing temporary accommodation for people living next to one of the talabs that is being cleared and where they will return to new housing.
Sunday 18th November
After conferences in the morning from the NRDA, Raipur Development Authority and CEPT University followed by lunch, the participants visited Naya Raipur. The new city is around 30km from Raipur centre. The major roads are constructed, together with the capital complex, now in operation and the first housing sectors. The entire area of the new city, including the currently unplanned ‘Layer II’ is vast and contains 43 existing villages, ponds and small fields of arable crops. The tour consisted of a drive around some of the main landmarks: the cricket stadium, capital and ponds. In the evening after dinner, the participants and management team each gave a short presentation about themselves, prior to the teams being formed.
Monday 19th November 2012
Further conferences were held in the morning, from the NRDA, Raipur Municipal Corporation, the housing board, developer’s association and CEPT University. The workshop was officially inaugurated at an opening ceremony where the State Minister for Housing, Environment, Industry and Commerce, the CEO of the NRDA and the management team lit candles. After lunch, the participants returned to the Naya Raipur area. Rakhi village is situated within the area of the Capital complex and is the only village to be re-located due to the new plan. Naya Rakhi, across the road from the old village is largely complete and occupied, with villagers living in small, single-storey houses which they can extend upwards as they need. The rational grid-structure of the streets contrasts strongly with the organic structure of the village. The tour continued past the Cancer research institute, a complex structure, currently under construction and on to Sector 29. This sector was being constructed by the Chhattisgarh Housing Board and includes subsidised housing, means –tested according to different categories. Middle-Income Group housing consists of detached, two –storey houses, whilst Lower-Income Group housing is in mid-height blocks. In the area under construction, the use of fly-ash concrete blocks could be seen, re-using waste from coal-fired power plants.
In the evening, the teams were constituted and the workshop commenced.
NAYA RAIPUR – a local city with global aspirationsBuilding
aspirationsBuilding a new city suggests a new beginning. It is a chance to implement a new political direction or ideology to address the issues faced by the old towns in the past and to look forward to a new form of urbanism. But history has taught us that many new problems can appear. New towns all over the world faced various constraints that are hard to overcome. Life in a new town cannot be designed on a drawing board. It takes a lot of time to make it vibrant; therefore, Naya Raipur Master Plan should provide resilience and flexibility for future adaptations and aspirations. In an urbanised and globalised India, the “common man” (aam admi) is searching for a new identity between tradition and modernity, especially in Naya Raipur. Built to connect the state of Chhattisgarh with the rest of India and the world, the creation of the new city will have to face challenges. One of the main problems to overcome is to match the new plan with the existing life.
Team: Rémi de Bercegol, Harry den Hartog, Katja Martini, Q.H. Kapadia,Tripti Sharma, Shruti Sullerey, Jiang Weiwei
Inspired by ‘The Powers of Ten’ of Charles and Ray Eames in the following next pages, our project aims at zooming in from global to local, through different layers, in order to analyse some of the main issues within ten scales of framework. We will make proposals by beginning to think at a local scale before progressively suggesting a new global identity for Naya Raipur. Because all layers and scales are complementary and inseparably interconnected, our team proposes to approach Naya Raipur on a more integral, inclusive and interconnected way. Multiple layers are distinguished, from global scale (the world) to local, until the human scale (the kitchen table).
Surely, Naya Raipur will be an international city, but simultaneously, it should also become a new home for local people, by retaining and reminding their cultures and traditions, with a strong new identity. Within each scale (global – national, regional, metropolitan, city, urban district, quarter, neighbourhood, street, home, kitchen) the various layers (urban fabric, infrastructure, green & water, functions & users) appear intensively interconnected. The current and expected future problems and opportunities are analysed and some recommendations are given.
Urban history proved that grids work well as layout for a city. But the dimensions of Naya Raipur’s grid are not matching enough with physical, cultural and anthropometrical scales. Indeed, the roads are wider than the widest roads that can be found in cities like Shanghai, New York or Paris and, for the moment, they form a huge barrier in the urban fabric. Rather than connecting it, the result is without doubt that the new city will be fragmented into an archipelago of unconnected neighbourhoods resulting in social and spatial segregation. To minimize this, our team proposes to scale down the size of the grid into smaller entities, to narrow down the roads and to increase the mix of functions, densities, and users, both horizontal and vertical.
Naya Raipur is a linear city, running from the north to the south. The master plan lacks the hierarchy in traffic movement and encourages the vehicular movement within the city to make the city more pedestrian friendly. One of our key-suggestions is to partly redirect the traffic on the central road between the two railway stations and to transform this spine into a lively urban road for all kind of vehicles (slow speed), BRT and pedestrians.
Furthermore we recommend innovations to improve the physical and social connections between the different neighbourhoods by using existing landscape elements and smart routes.
In the capital city planning process, local farmers and villagers had lost their land and their economic base, speculation is on the lurk and the master plan doesn’t seem to accommodate enough informal activities and local employment generation. The plan proposed by NRDA accommodates predominantly higher income groups that lead to formation of a polarised city. As a symbolic example, this conflict between lifestyles will be brought into extremes with the golf course and multiple gated(?) neighbourhoods for the new wealthy urban middle class. Our aim is to look for a city that not only provides global standards but that also integrates the needs of local population. Climate responsive and sensitive towards lifestyles, to make the city class inclusive, we propose to turn the golf course into urban farming, to fit the specific needs of the population and to provide a better source of income for everybody. We also recommend learning from vernacular community elements in the public space (like tree-benches, stages and places for worship) as well as promoting innovative technology.
Our objective is to strive for a more cohesive master plan, with more space for mixity, variety, and flexibility in order to strengthen local traditions, introduce sustainable practices and stimulate a new identity building process. Regarding that last point, we also provide a new methodology of sustaining the city systems (waste management, maintenance of greens, etc..) through community empowerment and participation to build-up a social structure which is responsible and sensitive enough towards their city. We propose capacity building centres that can play a leading role in linking the various scales, cultures and functions. That will help in maintenance, function and management of their new place of living and provide them with a sense of belonging to Naya Raipur. By analysing and proposing interventions at ten various scales, we attempt to provide a more holistic, inclusive and complementary city for all and to make Naya Raipur a “AAM ADMI KA RAIPUR”
What is the future for the people who will inhabit the new capital city of Chhattisgarh over the next 20 years and beyond? The master plan for the city of Naya Raipur is principally dominated by transport corridors. While the new infrastructure facilitates high speed transit, it does not adress the human experience of being in the city,particulary for the 75% majority of the people who do not own a car or even a motorcycle. To be successful, a city must be a place of exchange, a place where the experience of people is regarded with the highest value. To allow trading not only of money, goods and services but also the sharing of space, knowledge and ideas
To design a city where such interchange can occur, opportunities need to be created to allow exchange at the most immediate and human level;face-to-face in the public realm. This investigative analysis outlines the development of approaches to facilitate and give room for such personal encounters, that characterise Indian life. We call this intervention, ‘a complementary network.’This complementary network aims to create an integrated city where spatial, social, cultural and economic opportunities are equal for all citizens. The analysis is presented in four components: character, regional,city and the informal sector.These investigations lead onto the development of an integrated proposal at the scale of the region and city. To design spaces which will give room for the rich character of Indian life to exist, we analysed examples of places
in which this life currently occurs. We grouped these observations into the following 6 themes:
SpiceNaya Raipur should allow spontaneity of movement and a variety of experience through the city, to reflect the qualities seen throughout India. It should accommodate different rhythms of movement for a rich and mixed society
SensualityA key existing quality of Indian cities lies in their restless sensuality through
the changing building heights, shifting street widths and meandering volumes.The existing villages display a strong
female presence with a connection to ground and water. These qualities can be drawn on.
Relationship between Raipur and Naya Raipur How to handle the inbetween and the complementarity, how to avoid the already starting fragmented and uncontrolled urbanization of the in-between area?
The teams considered the relationships between the old and the new city would need to be dealt with in terms of economy (where are the jobs? Where do the workers live?), agricultural & local ressources (can Raipur and Naya Raipur share their resources?), sustainable construction (how can we use local materials for the new construction?), education (where are the students?).Team A treated the in-between zone not as a buffer, but rather as a link, developing common facilities for both towns: wholesale market, service industries, storage, truck terminal. Team C insisted on considering the development at the metropolitan scale, including Durg-Bhilai, and on developing a green and a slow connection between Raipur and Naya Raipur using narrow gauge rail line (slow) and existing canals as a complement to the fast speed tracks.
Inclusiveness of the new town
The teams all intended to provide room for the distinct dimensions of the new town: modernity and tradition, urban and rural characteristics, formality and informality, State capital and villages.All teams considered that Naya Raipur should encompass two different networks: one network for high speed, another one for low speed. They focus on the importance of the nodes between those two networks and on the link with public spaces. For team C, the inclusiveness could be reached through what they conceived as a complementary network.The role of the green belt is questioned: team A sees this green belt as a protection space for natural areas, while teams B and C rather consider it as a transition space between urban and rural areas.Team A imagined some capacity building centers oriented towards local building materials production, city services (like waste management, maintenance of green spaces), putting forward local populations empowerment and responsibility on sustainability. These capacity centers are meant to evolve in the future in “community centers”, a sort of decentralized decisional centers at a neighborhood scale.Team B recommended to implement in the existing masterplan new rules taking into account local aspects: water bodies and villages, topography, existing local road network, rivers. The future inner roads should be built following these constraints, even though they would probably not be straight and squared any more. Team B also imagines special rules regarding villages surroundings: reinforce existing lanes rather than creating new ones, defining frozen area, special treatment on the edges to facilitate the transition.
Size and scale of the grid How to cope up with the existing framework to make it more livable?
The three teams worked on the grid itself: team A chose to preserve the symetry of the grid, with slow traffic inside the grid, and fast traffic on the sides, teams B and C suggested an asymmetric grid, which would give priority to slow traffic on its Eastern part, and fast traffic on its Western part.
The teams dealt with the width of the roads, and the way the roads can be crossed: they make proposals in order to reduce the width in a way that can evolve over time – team C thought about buildings that would narrow the road; team A suggested to have lanes for smooth transportation.
Team A linked the grid with the size of the neighborhoods, trying to show how it was possible to work on different scales within the grid – narrowing inner roads, using the free space for public spaces and trees, based on vernacular elements.
Team C conceived a complementary city which would allow different systems to work together, thanks to a continuous network of streets and open spaces connecting existing villages, ponds and green spaces. This network would be dedicated to cycles and auto-rickshaws – used by the 75% of “normal people” – connecting neighbourhoods, villages, ponds, and linked to the more formal grid – with a special treatment on the connections between these two networks (market place, retail, temporary events).
At the district scale, team B focused on a zero-carbon emission objective for local needs, fostering walkable distances and smooth mobility: microhubs for electric rickshaw or e-bikes with electric stations and for local services (kiosks, street vendors).
Both teams A and B worked on a central spine for Naya Raipur: Team A imagines it as a space to slow down, where there would be community centers, while team B insists on its role for transport intermodality.
Phasing and building over time
The three teams took into account the phasing of the new city. Team B worked particularly on the relationship between density and urban forms – suggesting to maintain flexibility while keeping “voids” in the grids (eg. 1% of commercial land, 10% of residential land), which uses could be changed in the future in order to adapt to the new reality. Team B also wants to progressively adapt the transportation network to the population and needs, evolving for example from simple bus lanes to BRT lanes.Team A also thought on how the functions would develop over time.
Identity and image of the new capital city
All the teams understood that the definition of Naya Raipur identity was all the more important since it was a capital city, but that it could not be brought down only to modernity and functionality.For Team C, Naya Raipur identity will flow from the complementary network, putting forward the open and green spaces of the city. Team C also insisted on some local characteristics: Spicy (variety of movement, mixed uses), Sensuality, Horizontality (and vertical temple as landmarks), Visible/Hidden (belvedere vs. secret places), Porosity (using locally sourced materials), Transition (generation together).Team A insisted on the concept of a centralized accessible city and on strengthening local existing knowledge in agriculture and farming research (such as the existing College of Agriculture) to create a “cluster” oriented towards urban farming and agronomy research, medical research and life sciences.Team B put forward the alliance between urban and rural characteristics.