Naya Raipur – Shaping a new capital city to fit Indian life
In late 2012 Juan, nerei founder, was part of an international panel of experts during a 10 ten days workshop held in Raipur, in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The 21 architects and urban planners worked in 3 groups to suggest visions and solutions to the Naya Raipur Development Authority.
The State is in the process of building, by 2013, a brand new capital city, Naya Raipur, adjacent to the existing town. The new city is planned to accommodate 560,000 inhabitants, and to provide infrastructure and facilities complementary to the existing city, in a sustainable and inclusive environment. Transport, water, drainage and other infrastructure have been already designed according to best international practice and to attract strategic businesses, institutions and skilled workers.
With the words of the organization that led the workshop, the French NGO Les Atelier.
More work needs to be done to understand how the city can support the complex cultures that characterise Indian life and to achieve the objective of being an inclusive, socially sustainable city. Les Atelier
The question is not high rise or low rise, or if the city should be a grid. The question is what does one hope to achieve with this paradigm of development? Professor PVK Rameshwar, CEPT University
The participants were encouraged to reflect and propose solutions starting from the spaces of interaction, a fundamental value of Indian culture and of life in a city. The topics to explore ranged from the concept of Mixity, Public Transport and Urban Density, Space and Water as Social Resources, and the overall Positioning of the new city in the frame of the creation of a vision for the whole region.
The urban analysis.
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.
The group which Juan was part of conducted a preliminary analysis of the existing character of the city based on field trips observations and collected them under 6 themes:
Spice -> the new town should allow spontaneity, variety of experiences and the mixture of rhythms that create the richness of Indian culture
Sensuality -> a key existing quality of Indian cities lies in their restless sensuality through the changing building heights, shifting street widths and meandering volumes
Transition -> mirroring the multiple generations shared spaces typical in Indian society, the new city should grant a seamless transition of diversities
Porosity -> through textures and materiality the new city should allow indian life to permeate though it with minimal restriction to the eye and body
Visibility -> within the city a variety of scales should be encouraged from the intimate to the monumental
Horizon -> flat roofs and cubic volumes of Raipur set up an artificial horizon that is occasionally penetrated by taller pyramid-like temples, easily identified from afar helping to orientate one within the city
The solution. A complementary network
To complement the rigid, but efficient urban grid already planned for the new town, the team proposed a complementary network of streets and spaces to better connect people and places.
This interwoven urban system of the grid and complementary network provides important connections within the city and region. It incorporates the existing landscape topography, waterbodies and streams, routes, villages, neighbourhoods, sectors, and parks. The complementary network unlocks opportunities and integrate Indian life and the informal sector into the city. The network will have the ability to evolve and adapt over time.
On a regional scale, the ambition of the complementary network is to provide sustainable transport connections for
the expanding metropolitan area.
At the scale of the city the complementary network is a continuous network of streets and open spaces integrating informal activity into the existing grid.
The network incorporates all villages and water bodies within the Naya Raipur area and connects all existing and future neighbourhoods . It serves the purpose to connect all key public open spaces, market places, squares and neighbourhoods, taking precedent over the existing grid giving pedestrians, cyclists and rickshaws priority over other modes of transport. And moreover, it integrates, organises and gives space to the informal sector to operate.
No transport efficiency can fully substitute and pay back for the loss of that informal, vital, fluid flow of communication that gives life to the living layer of any urban plan. Working with a complementary network takes into account the living, unstoppable dimension of the city life.
The contents of this post are taken from the official report of the workshop by Les Atelier and the fantastic drawings are by Bèrengère Deluc.