Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi, is the principal of Sangath, regrouping Vastu Shilpa Consultants and Vastu Shilpa Foundation, unveils details of the redevelopment plan of Bhadra Precinct, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. The project started in 2011 and completed November 2014 in collaboration with different public, private and independent organisations such as the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Archeological Survey of India, Vastu Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design and CEPT University; as well as multidisciplinary team of professionals like planners, engineers, architects, historians and conservationists; in a dialogue with the local organized groups of temple and mosque representatives as well as informal vendors and shop owners.
In an exclusive video, Dr. Balkrishna Doshi gives some details on the project. You can view this video below or you may click this link on mobile devices which can't handle embedded videos.
Funded by the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission), the project became the first of its kind as a redevelopment and pedestrianization of a public space in an Indian old city. The redevelopment plan focuses on very basic aspects of the city to be considered in details; traffic congestion, no pedestrian demarcation, dense built fabric, unorganised informal activities, scarcity of open spaces, noise and air pollution.
The basic principles of the masterplan for redevelopment of Bhadra Precinct were to make the historic core a walkable precinct, develop pedestrian plazas, promote the use of public transport, develop large parks, conserve the heritage monuments and make this place a true city centre of Ahmedabad.
The project addresses a long forgotten issue in countries with rapid developing economies like India: the concern to prioritize the revitalization of old cities instead of building and developing new and more economically profitable areas. Being an intervention for everybody it does not revalue the land owned by the rich, but instead will benefit directly to the diverse community of the inhabitants in the walled city.
As a pioneer project in including the street vending activities in the design, exhaustive research on the informal activities in the plaza has been undertaken:vending pattern, types and typologies of stalls, location, movement, sizes and arrangement of hawkers have been documented in order to produce an inclusive and coherent proposal for relocation of 600 street vendors, thus protecting the livelihood of economically weaker citizens. It is a complex project that deals with multiple parameters and criteria ranging from public policy to design.
Over the time the revitalization of the area will flourish into the consequent up-gradation of the existing buildings in the surroundings. Given the guidelines for an elevation treatment, many of their upper floors abandoned and underused will convert into prosperous restaurants, offices or shops.
The impact will spread gradually along the axis of the Plaza into the bazaar street that connects to Manek Chowk (an open space that hosts commercial and leisure activities) towards the east, and Sabarmati river towards the west. The city of Ahmedabad –currently pending for recognition as World Heritage City status- will reflect on this project as a model example for redeveloping other public spaces.
Through the years, awareness of the value of this place will arise, connecting with the people and their pride for culture and identity of their past and present glory. The Bhadra Plaza will then again become one of the true great public centers in India, an open living room for people to meet, gather, celebrate, shop and recreate.
In 1958 Balkrishna Doshi gets the commission for a new auditorium, the Premabhai Hall. Facing the Bhadra Plaza, the building became an opportunity to design a first proposal for the revitalization of the area. The envisioned plaza would take in diverse activities distributed at different levels, and become a public foyer preceding the cultural hub of the Auditorium.
In 2009, the scenario was of a plaza whose original outline could still be traced, but that had been greatly encroached upon and suffered from intense traffic congestion, no pedestrian demarcation, unorganized informal activities, unutilized open spaces, haphazard parking, as well as noise and air pollution.
Along with the pedestrianization of the plaza, public access to the Bhadra site by pedestrian friendly lanes as well as enhancing the connection accross the Sabarmati River through a pedestrian bridge have been proposed. The project also includes the conservation and adaptative reuse of the Bhadra Fort by the Archeological Survey of India and the Redevelopment of the Lal Darwaza Bus Terminus in close proximity to the Plaza. The up gradation of the Bus Terminus also provides an opportunity to meet the parking requirements within the congested walled city.
Existing activity pattern at plaza: total no. of Hawkers: 894
The design allows the informal and formal activities occur while maintaining the quality and character of a vast public space with leisure zones with trees and shade, fountains and seating areas. Some of the other issues the project addresses are the up gradation of physical elements such as signage, lighting, landscaping and street furniture. Designed portal columns, arranged along the market space demarcate the commercial activity. These vertical elements will guide the new location of the stalls and the zones for street vendors, as well as provide light and structure for the awnings required in monsoon or summer seasons.
The pedestrian Plaza will also have entry gates for emergency, religious processions –like Tazia– and delivery of goods to the shops in the ground floors. As well as a museum located in the refurbished basement of an obstructing structure, a police station and a public toilet.
Before 2012 and after the 2014 redevelopment plan.
The project received HUDCO (Housing and Urban Development Corporation), 2012 Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment, First Prize in the category of Conservation and Heritage and exhibited at ‘Celebrating Habitat’, Retrospective exhibition of B. V. Doshi at National Gallery of Modern Arts NGMA in Delhi, October-December 2014.
Dr. Balkrishna Doshi, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects was born in Pune in August 26th, 1927.
After initial study at the J J School of Architecture, Bombay, he worked for four years with Le Corbusier as Senior Designer (1951-54) in Paris and four more years in India to supervise his projects in Ahmedabad. His office Vastu-Shilpa (environmental design) was established in 1955.
List of interventions at Bhadra Square
Dr Doshi has been a member of the Jury for several international and national competitions including the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Aga Khan Award for Architecture and Pritzker Prize.
Apart from his international fame as an architect, Dr. Doshi is equally known as educator and institution builder. He has been the first founder Director of School of Architecture, Ahmedabad (1962-72), first founder Director of School of Planning (1972-79), first founder Dean of Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (1972-81), founder member of Visual Arts Centre, Ahmedabad and first founder Director of Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad. Dr. Doshi has been instrumental in establishing the nationally and internationally known research institute Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design. The institute has done pioneering work in low cost housing and city planning.
As an academician, Dr. Doshi has been visiting the U.S.A. and Europe since 1958 and has held important chairs in American Universities. Balkrishna Doshi is the principal of Sangath, India, Honorary Member of World Architecture Community.
In recognition of his distinguished contribution as a professional and as an academician, Dr. Doshi has received several international and national awards and honours.
Architect/Planner: Balkrishna Doshi
Client: Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation
Consultant: Project Management - CEPT University, Structure Consultant - N K Shah, Service Consultant - SHETH TECHNO
All images courtesy of Vastu Shilpa Foundation.
> via Vastu Shilpa Foundation