EMBARQ India and GEHL Architects explore the paradigms for Transit Oriented Development in India
By Sahana Goswami
Mumbai | September 28 and 29, 2013
EMBARQ India organized a two day workshop with Copenhagen based urban research and design consultancy GEHL Architects on September 28 and 29, 2013. Participating were members from the Urban Design and Accessibility teams from Bangalore, Mumbai and New Delhi; and the representatives from GEHL Architects were Henriette Vamberg and Ulrik Nielsen.
The objective of this workshop was to formulate a framework for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in India to inform the TOD Guidebook, to be published by EMBARQ India. Five critical TOD projects that EMBARQ India is involved with are used as case references. In parallel the workshop also provided the opportunity to understand the projects and assess the challenges, achievements and methodologies applied for deployment of TOD recommendations in each.
The projects under review were - 1. Realizing Transit Oriented Development in Mumbai: Inputs into the Development Plan Mumbai 2014 - 2034 2. Hubli - Dharwad Transit Oriented Development 3. Improving Pedestrian Access and Environments, MIDC Marol 4. Indranagar Metro Station Area: Safe Access Project and Development Control Regulations 5. Naya Raipur Sector Design: Sectors 2 and 31
All the projects adhere to the 7 TOD Principles devised by EMBARQ India but what is interesting to note is that the uniqueness of deployment in each case provides a vastly differing end product and adds to the vivid mix of urbanity which exemplifies Indian cities.
Day 1 had the participants exploring the projects exhaustively, with each project anchor providing the specific context and unique challenges faced in each case. The projects cover a wide spectrum of design and policy issues as their geographies range from transitioning urban redevelopment in an industrial district in Mumbai (Marol) to the conflicts of historic preservation in the face of advancing urbanism (Hubli-Dharwad TOD) to a rapidly commercializing residential neighbourhood (Indiranagar) close to the CBD of Bangalore and finally a greenfield TOD (Naya Raipur).
GEHL Architects made a presentation on Day 2 offering a different perspective on assessing and designing the urban realm. Techno-cities, intelligent systems, rapid transit have changed how we live, work and socialize and has vastly affected demographic patterns in urban areas. Drawing from their own experience on a variety of projects they emphasized on the need to plan and design based on the dynamic nature of modern urban cultures. One key aspect within their design paradigm was to cultivate quality in the urban spaces designed.
The discussion on quality of space filtered into later sessions when the concept of TOD in an Indian context was analysed. Primarily using the cases of the Hubli - Dharwad TOD and the Naya Raipur TOD the 7 principles and their deployment was assessed. The projects were deconstructed to understand the quality of space from a micro-scale (street or block) and to a larger scale of block, neighbourhood and city. The consensus was that merely placing the 7 TOD principles on site is inadequate to generate active, vibrant urban spaces, which are characteristic of Indian cities. Through the concluding session of the workshop, moderated by GEHL Architects, the 7 TOD principles were expanded into sub-principles looking at various scales in the urban realm. Each principle further needs to be deployed with a strategy that is customized to the ground conditions and expected quality of space. The synergies between the principles at the multiple scales and the methodologies for deployment are understood to distil an approach for TOD in the Indian context. Essentially it will be these methodologies to create synergies that will be included in the Guidebook.
The workshop generated a vast volume of ideas on design, implementation and deployment strategies for TOD in the Indian context. Some critical areas requiring further engagement were identified as: (a) listing best practices from global examples and (b) developing criteria for post implementation evaluation.
The process of developing the guidebook is set to continue with discussions within EMBARQ India and with inputs at intermediate points from GEHL Architects.
(1) Complete streets (Walking and Biking); (2) Transit Supportive Uses (Active Edges); (3) Integrated Transport (Public Transit); (4) Public Spaces (Open Spaces); (5)Cultural Landscapes (Historic and Environmental); (6) Compact development (Mixed Use and Density); (7) Travel Demand Management (Demand Management)