Chittaranjan Park, Dehli
A space to reflect as a community. Humans are social animals. We grow when we share, and when we collectively care. The journey of humankind is not a single leap which happens overnight. But it's a series of small steps in the right direction. Steps which influence and encourage others to evolve and change. Change is the only constant.
Chittranjan Park, like many urban settlements; has gone through its fair share of transformations over the years. From being a close knit community settlement which evolved during the turbulent times of partition, to a rich residential neighbourhood, where the definition of “community” is slowly getting trans- formed in the fast paced contemporary world.
CR park today needs infrastructural and physical interventions, to prepare for the future which seems rather challenging, the community is going to be an important tool of growth and sustenance.Thus the crux of our development is to enable change; change which brings the people closer than ever(keeping social distancing), and a resilient, development oriented neighbourhood. So together ‘Cholo bodlai‘.
The disused park can be opened up towards the market to create a new edge for the people to habit the plaza and the park. Community activities and social interactions in the park need to be promoted through community participation. We have proposed a food trail in front of the park. This not only reduces the encroachment of eateries in the market plaza but provides a food trail which is organic in nature but in a controlled environment. Street vendors and food outlets on the ground floor of the mar- ket shall also be used as an important anchor towards creating the local addas around the plaza. Food becomes a marker of culture. This also invites people to the park and its boundaries which automatically increases the safety factor in these spaces and reduces the dead spaces which host unsocial activities.
Plug and play urbanism
The beauty of Indian urban spaces is how it grows organically, but it is also one of the biggest threats to planned development, which is clearly evident in the present condition of CR Park. The idea of plug and play urbanism is to let the spaces transform organically but with a set framework. The plug and play grids create a framework for everyone and anyone to habit the place and make it their own. An urban framework that acts like a public game of “tetris”, where all ancillary public functions and activities can plug themselves into the volume and activate the edges of the urban plaza, the mela ground boundary and the Netaji park boundary. The framework can become an eatery stall or a bench or a table to play chess on. The framework can accommodate an amplifier for an electrical guitar while also allowing the possibility of having a see-saw for the kids to play. It can be the only public furniture that can become what it needs to be depending upon the requirement. Ephemeral functions for permanent urban spaces. It attempts to keep the growth organic but not out of control.
The Street as a Place
Designing streets as incident spaces outside buildings shouldn’t be the approach to public place making. We want to acknowledge Indian streets as reclaimed spaces for the public and enable as much gain out of them as built infrastructure. Indian streets in their existing forms are complex, existing and intend- ed functions have been designed to work together: through introduction of street furniture, pedestrian pathways etc. A majority of the problem solving can be done by simple demarcation of different layers of the street, a consistent carriage way for vehicle movement, tucked in parking to avoid bottlenecks on the street, raised and streamlined pedestrian paths with ramps and tactile tiles. These interventions can start with simple tactics like painting lines to bigger interventions like creating level differences over time.
We understand that design cannot be the single enabler, and prioritising place making over designing solutions in silos works better, especially in the Indian context; for example, there are three steps to solving the parking: marking and designing space for it, enabling policy through the local community for man- agreement of the parking and then enabling smooth maintenance and operations through simple design solutions.
Our approach to re imagining park has been three fold, keeping it simple, practical and for the long term. There is an intent to create an identity that the community will take ownership of, the interventions can be broken down in parts by scale or over time in phases. We hand over this imagination to the residents of CR Park in the pursuit of continuously wanting to evolve and create better public spaces in India.