Architecture

Ceilings That Create a Modern Twist to Home Architecture

Ceilings are often used to hide roof construction. They have been favourite places for decoration from the earliest times: either by painting the flat surface, by emphasizing the structural members of roof, or by treating it as a field for an overall pattern of relief…

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In modern architecture ceilings may be divided into two major classes—the suspended (or hung) ceiling and the exposed ceiling. With ceilings hung at some distance below the structural members, some architects have sought to conceal great amounts of mechanical and electrical equipment, such as electrical conduits, air-conditioning ducts, water pipes, sewage lines, and lighting fixtures. Most suspended ceilings use a lightweight metal grid suspended from the structure by wires or rods to support plasterboard sheets or acoustical tiles.

Exposed Ceiling
Beams, trusses or system piping are revealed in an exposed ceiling. Wooden beams and trusses found in original construction of older homes lend a sense of history to a room. Fabricated beams made to look like wood can also be attached to a ceiling. Exposed system elements, such as duct work and piping, give a modernist, loft ambiance to a room, creating an open and industrial feel.

Tray Ceiling
A tray ceiling begins as a normal ceiling. The drama begins when it rises, most often in the center of the room, creating a recess of at least 6 inches. Tray ceilings can also be dropped, becoming a floating false ceiling.

Coffered Ceiling
Similar to a tray ceiling, a coffered ceiling has several recesses covering the entire ceiling surface. Often lined with decorative molding, coffered ceilings add strength to the room’s construction. Coffers add height and depth to the feel of a room.

Vaulted Ceilings
An architectural design element, a vaulted ceiling peaks at the center of a room, or follows the roof line. An off-side vault, or a simple angle running upwards to the roof line also adds drama to a room. Skylights and paint enhance the vault.

Barrel Vault
Originating in Roman architecture, a barrel vault looks like a barrel that’s cut in half and tacked to the ceiling. Found in major rooms of a home or down a long hallway, barrel vaults in natural stone or brick are dramatic. A stark, modernist look for a barrel vault is created with lightly toned or white paint.

Domed Ceiling
Unlike a barrel vault, a domed ceiling opens up a specific area of a room. Often found in tight hallways or above a sweeping staircase, the dome is a blank canvas for a mural. Creative inset lighting or a cascading chandelier adds to the cachet of the dome.

Cove Ceilings
A coved ceiling curves up from the four main walls of a room and leads to the actual ceiling. Coving is applied as a molding attached between the wall and ceiling or is incorporated into the architecture of the room. Usually painted white to match the floor molding, a dramatic effect is achieved with paint or texture. Coves are also found as arches separating one living space from another.

Up and Close with Design Architect Shabnam Gupta

In a world of celebrity homes and contemporary design in India, a name oft stands out – Shabnam Gupta. Her brand The Orange Lane today is one of the most recognised design firms that conjures up visual wonders in urban designs whilst maintaining its inspiration from nature and from the rich cultural diversity of India. From urban residential to weekend countryside homes, and from lifestyle stores to hospitality projects, her canvas of work encompasses a wide spectrum. Urban Vaastu explores…

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Celebrity designer and architect, Shabnam Gupta founded her pet architecture and interior design firm, The Orange Lane over a decade and a half ago in 2003 in Mumbai. Today, she is well-known in the Indian design and interior circles for her bursts of colours and textures and, a unique contemporary design palette.

After graduating in interior design from L.S. Raheja College of Architecture, she honed her skills in various architectural and design projects by working with architect Tushar Desai before setting up her own practice. Before setting up The Orange Lane, Shabnam had set up a popular furniture and retail brand, Peacock Life in 2011 offering an affordable range of designer furniture and decor products, and bespoke design services.

The store offers a collection of earthy, recycled and environment-friendly products that reflect the aesthetic of both the old and the new.Under her able leadership and creative direction, the brand grew steadily in stature to become a prestigious name in the realm of interior design.

Shabnam Gupta makes use of spaces to tell stories. She has an artist’s imagination, and a visionary’s eyes to articulate narratives through beautiful design.

Known for her versatile accents, Shabnam Gupta has been involved in more than 150 plus projects in India across genres – from hospitality and homes to retail design and commercial offices. Over the years, Shabnam Gupta has carved a niche for herself, drawing inspiration mostly from Indian culture blended with Indian sensibilities and idiosyncratic elements. All her experiences in life till date have added on to her creativity and inspired Gupta to appreciate and celebrate the simple things in life – emotions, people, nature and travel.

Growing up, Shabnam has many memories of her travels in and around India. Her parents, both media professionals, exposed her to the outdoors and nature during their professional and personal pursuits that has surely left an indelible mark in her imagination and allowed her to blossom into the fine professional she is today. She feels that destiny really played a great part in paving the creative route for her.

She adds, “My father wanted me to take up Home Science but I quit within the first week and enrolled myself in design school. So, as they say, I didn’t choose the design life, it chose me!” She reminisces that she was quite a rebel growing up and felt that at some point, her father was quite apprehensive that she wouldn’t turn out to be the lady that he thought she should be.Over the years, her most valuable lessons have come to her from her parents who have also been her mentors.

Like all parents, they have ensured that their daughter was grounded and accepted the realities of life, which they would have known and faced in their active lifetime. “They have always taught me to be disciplined and not get swayed or carried away in any phase of life. From my practise, I have learnt that nothing happens because of a single person in my profession, and it is foolish to think that you are solely responsible for how far you have come.”

From designing celebrity homes and private residences across the country to top hotels, restaurants and bars in the city, she has left no stone unturned in setting very high standards in interior design. Obviously her work has been much appreciated and very well received by everyone which has led to Shabnam amassing a bulletin-worthy of awards and accolades. Her design can be best described as a balanced intermingling of indoor and outdoor elements, elaborate walls with murals along with a drizzle of rare furniture pieces that are unique to her projects and styles. She says that “there is no math. I go with the flow and believe that each space will demand its design for us – and it generally does.” She was listed among the ‘7 Interior Designers & Architects To Watch Out For’ by Forbes India in 2010 and the Elle Club 2012, The IID National Awards for Best Hospitality Project in 2012, the International Property Award in the Residential and Hospitality categories in 2014, the AD50 2017 Award for the 50 most influential architects and interior designers and her works have been published in the coffee table book’s 50 Most Beautiful Homes in India. She also won the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2016-17 for designing Parineeti Chopra’s residence.

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She was also featured in one of the country’s first home makeover shows.
With several stellar projects under her name, Shabnam acquired the reputation of being an ace designer with a rare gift of creating visual delights for the spaces she designed. Her forte lies in putting together contrasting elements of design – colours, textures, furniture and decor – and balancing them beautifully with a contemporary appeal.

Shabnam is known to conjure up visual wonders. She is recognised for her personally tailored, client specific interiors that use bursts of colours, textures and other unique elements within a contemporary design palette. Her designs are known to exude energy, vibrancy, and spirit in a delicate but subtle way. “Our design philosophy,” she adds, “runs on understanding the client’s needs and wants, after which we translate them into design reality.

If it comes to a point where a client is being unreasonable, we make sure we get real close to what they imagine and start off from there. Most of the time, the outcome is a better depiction of what they imagined. Being innovative is key.”

Today, The Orange Lane not only acts like a design consultant but it also provides complete turnkey design solutions. Across the properties, Gupta makes it a point to adhere to a specific set of rules. She says, “The process (of interior designing) starts off with listening in carefully to what the client needs. We take their vision further with our design sensibilities and in the process experiment with varied materials, design styles and concepts till we find the right balance between both. In the end, every project is a result of client’s love for design – their needs combined with our signature style.”

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Design Motto: Shabnam Gupta, the principal designer of interior and architectural design firm ‘The Orange Lane’, believes in creating captivating visual narratives through her designs.

Philosophy: “We try to declutter and retain as much of the original form. You need to be sensitive to what the space demands.”

Favourite Buildings: Geoffrey Bawa’s Heritance Kandalama, and Lunuganga Estate. “Every project of his is a point of inspiration.”

Influences: Geoffrey Bawa, Frank Lloyd Wright, Takashi Sugimoto

Materials: Concrete, stone, wood and metal, in their raw forms.

Star Projects: Celebrity homes include film producer and director Aditya Chopra’s bungalow in Mumbai, Rani Mukherjee, Parineeti Chopra, Irfan Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Raveena Tandon’s residences, film maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Office and so on. Beyond Bollywood, Shabnam has designed art curator and gallery owner Ashish Balram Nagpal’s house in Alibaug, Mumbai’s fine dining restaurant The Sassy Spoon, the office of CNBC TV18 and the Pepperfry Studio to name a few. She has worked for a series of well-known projects in Mumbai that have been noticed and appreciated by a vast spectrum of people. They include Outlets of The Bar Stock Exchange in Mumbai and Bengaluru, Social in Pune, a University in Chandigarh, The Intercontinental Mumbai’s in-house restaurants, game salon SMAAASH, the hip and colorful Bombay Bronx in Cumbala Hill, Mumbai or the vibrant Big Nasty in Khar, Mumbai are two of her many projects.

She firmly believes that “one’s journey in life is a continuous process. It is the journey that matters and not the final destination. Success for different people has different meanings. I am fortunate to be getting the kind of work that gives me the creative freedom and satisfaction to do what I want to do. Personally I do not take these tags seriously at all. I believe that I am a learner and the day I stop learning that will be the end of my creative hunger. More than anything else, the journey so far has taught me to be a calmer person. In our line of work where you have to interact with so many different teams including your own, it teaches you how to handle human relations. Sometimes I joke our job is half of that of a psychiatrist.”

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A Naukettu inspired homes making a comeback

Coloured by sepia-toned memories and a strong sense of nostalgia, getting ‘back to our roots’ is in vogue. This heightened longing for the good old days has been instrumental in bringing back many classical architectural styles, and one of them is the nalukettu veedu in Kerala…

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NALUKETTU means four blocks and a typical house built in this fashion would be divided into a north, south, east, and west block. The naalukettu was a typical feature of the Kerala tharavadu tradition, where joint families lived together for generations with a patriarch and matriarch overseeing all their affairs. At the centre of the house is a nadumuttam, which is an open courtyard that served as the focal point of interactions between the family as well as various household activities and festivities. The larger and wealthier families had ettukettu or, the rarer, pathinaarukettu houses featured eight and 16 blocks with two and four courtyards respectively. All of these houses were built following the principles of ancient thachu shastra or the science of carpentry and developed during the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when the Nairs and Namboodiris

dominated the society with their power and wealth. These aristocratic families who prided on their lineage and the name of their tharavadu would build extensive naalukettu homes that would feature a grove with a snake mound to facilitate the popular worship of snakes, a basil leaves plant installation made of stone or brick, and even a pond for the exclusive use of the family. Naalukettus can be sprawling, entirely built on the ground floor or can go up to three storeys high.

RICH AND INTRICATE DETAIL
Typically made of teak wood or the wood from wild jackfruit trees, brick, and mud, these houses had superior ventilation and lighting that kept the house well lit and aerated at all times. A padippura is a distinguishing feature

atop a naalukettu gate consisting of an elaborate, temple-like gopuram. The entrance to the house would have a verandah designed to receive visitors. Inside, the nadumuttam is surrounded by rooms on all sides like the ara, a special room meant to store valuables. Granaries, cattle sheds, kitchen and utility, dining halls, bathrooms, bedrooms, puja rooms, wells and other purpose-built spaces filled all the corners of a naalukettu. Another feature that showcases the technical ingenuity of these complex yet very thoughtful structures is the roof. Gabled windows on the top of all naalukettus ensured cross-ventilation at all times and let in enough light into the attic while extended rafters gave ample protection from the heavy rains that are characteristic to Kerala.

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A DISAPPEARING HERITAGE
Naalukettus faded into oblivion as socio-cultural changes swept over Kerala. Education gained prominence, and more women began migrating from a life led entirely inside sooty kitchens to the outside world of work and independence. Nuclear families evolved with men and women settling down wherever work took them resulting in the break-up of the joint family system. Soon, naalukettus housed only the elders in the family and the upkeep of such large properties became near impossible. With the demand for elaborate homes dying, architects lost the special skill sets required for building these traditional houses.
Today, only a few of the original naalukettus remain mostly in the form of museums or heritage homestays.
Modern constructions now sport some features of the naalukettu style of architecture like the sloping roof, a small verandah supported by tall pillars, and a mini courtyard in the middle. Used by not only houses but also restaurants, ayurvedic spas and other establishments that are traditional to Kerala, the naalukettu design is now seeing a massive reprise. It is not uncommon to see naalukettu houses for sale in cities and real estate agencies advertising low-cost naalukettu houses to customers. And although not as glorious and rambling as the older naalukettu houses, they are a treat to the eyes.

Building Modern Indian Aesthetics – The Purple Ink Studio

The Purple Ink Studio was started in Bengaluru with the different ideas of two individuals who strongly believed in their respective design concepts which believes in constantly exploring the parameters of design and blurring the boundaries between architecture, landscape and sustainability. The Studio is working on experiments which are based in the present day scenario (as prototypes) which when multiplied, would breed into a series of ‘Eco-cities’, set in the future. These experiments focus on the ‘Kilometer Zero’ concept, which strives to generate locally everything that is necessary for our living…”

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O-founded by Akshay Heranjal and Aditi Pai Heranjal, Bengaluru-based The Purple Ink Studio is a young architectural practice which believes in constantly exploring the parameters of design and blurring the boundaries between architecture, landscape and sustainability. The underlying focus of the studio is to integrate architectural theories using hybrid techniques to develop a new breed of regenerative architecture. The Purple Ink Studio is a multidisciplinary practice that believes in an integrated approach to design – which while being complex, stems from an innate focus on regenerative theories and moves beyond digital techniques.
The Purple Ink Studio is a multiple award winning practice which was started in 2011 by Akshay and Aditi, wherein the firm today has evolved as a confluence of two distinct architectural backgrounds – one being extremely rational, aesthetic yet responsive and the other being based on strong responses to nature and inclusion of natural elements in the design. The studio believes in constantly exploring the parameters of design and blurring the boundaries between architecture, landscape, and sustainability to create a contemporary design which resonates with its context.
Akshay Heranjal is the Principal Architect at The Purple Ink Studio. He graduated with honors from BVBCET, Hubli. Training as an apprentice with Ar. Karan Grover in Baroda gave him an opportunity to understand green technologies at close quarters, and gave him adequate exposure to LEED/IGBC certified projects. After the internship, he joined sP+a, a young practice headed by Ar. Sameep Padora, where he stretched his repertoire into core designing. He later worked with Sanjay Puri Architects, and got experience in handling several large scale projects of different magnitudes and typologies. While Ar. Akshay says that architecture happened to him by accident, his years spent working alongside three influential Indian architects (all with very different design philosophies) powerfully influenced him. He adds, “All of them helped me mould myself into what I am today, as a person and as an architect. That also helped shaped the firm’s approach. The work we do stems from diverse contexts that we connect with, which respond to the regional framework and setting. That is just the beginning of the process. There are so many more layers.”
Aditi Pai Heranjal heads the Landscape + Sustainability division at ‘The Purple Ink Studio’. She took her Bachelor’s degree from Gogte Institute of Technology, Belgaum and followed it up with a Masters in Landscape Architecture from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. She trained as an intern with Integrated Design (InDe), Bengaluru headed by Landscape architect, Mohan Rao. She later continued working with him as an Associate Architect and worked on various environmental design projects involving landscape design and sustainability.
Akshay and Aditi’s cumulative educational background and diverse professional experience lends the practice an emphatic edge. “We both very strongly believe in our design concepts” explains Ar. Akshay.

The Purple Ink Studio brings you a contemporary expression of design emerged from the urban context with finesse and poise

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“One of us is extremely rational, aesthetic yet responsive while the other is strongly influenced by their responses towards nature and the inclusion of natural elements in the design,” he adds. It is this contrast that adds a unique dimension to each of their projects, he feels. Each of our projects goes through this rigorous process of design development and evolution with very careful consideration of the context and limitations, making each one very special in its own way, they say. Adding value to the practice is

Associate Architect Nishita Bhatia, and a young, enthusiastic team comprising architects, interior designers and allied professionals! The constant effort to engage in ‘regenerative architecture’ focused on conservation and performance through a conscious reduction of the environmental impacts of a built structure, kindles their commitment to sustainability. The studio is working on prototypes which when multiplied, would breed into a series of ‘Eco-cities’ set in the future.

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These experiments focus on the ‘Kilometer Zero’ concept, which strives to generate locally everything that is necessary for living.
The design team works closely on each program. Every site that is selected for their projects hold a strong theoretical context. In addition to this, the firm believes in developing an integrated approach which is complex, progressive and constantly engaging in the practices of ‘Regenerative Architecture’. Through its body of work, the studio is focusing on the ‘Kilometer Zero’ concept that is necessary for its existence. These experiments which are based in the present day scenario would work as a prototype which when multiplied would give rise to a series of ‘Eco-cities’ set in the future. Since its inception in 2011, The Purple Ink Studio has won 4 International Awards, 3 Indian Awards and has also been nominated for 5 Indian Awards thereby earning themselves tremendous recognition in the field of Architecture and Design.
Living by the maxim – “The will to live differently needs to start somewhere. There is a constant need to re-look at growth that affects the social and regional patterns of a city.

It is imperative to look at strategies that help us use less and produce more. It’s crucial to be Sustainable by Design…. by Life!” – The Purple Ink Studio has spread its presence across varied project typologies, in the four major verticals – Architecture, Interiors, Landscape and Sustainability.
From the refurbishment of a single-screen theatre in Rajkot, Gujarat to a luxury apartment for a Dubai-based businessman; from a school in Hubli to a spa in Bengaluru the practice reinvents its ideology wonderfully well, across diverse projects – to suit the context and brief!
Akshay provides insight on the opportunities and obstacles that come with starting your own firm and reveals how he resolved the trepidations that comes along with establishing your own practice. He says, “I personally believe that there is no specific time for starting your own practice, but what does matter is the experience and understanding that you can derive from your mentors while working under them. I believe I was privileged to have worked with three different architecture masters or ‘gurus’ – Karan Grover, Sameep Padora and Sanjay Puri;

all of whom have moulded the design aesthetics and the ideologies that I hold today.”
The Studio won the most coveted ‘Best Practice in India of 2016’ award from TRENDS EXCELLENCE AWARDS for Architecture & Design and have also been listed in the PERSPECTIVE 40under40 ASIA and as the Top 50 Next Gen Architects who will shape India, amongst other numerous National & International Honors.
To conclude, Akshay adds, “To do well, it is important to be rigorous when you are learning. Do not look at your current workspace as just a stepping stone for when you start your own practice. Do not work through it superficially. Invest in your workspace. You need to gather enough knowledge and experience before you can start on your own. Devote all your time and energy into learning and grasping as much as you can about design strategies and running a practice because as the principal architect of a new firm, you will have to undertake every role and responsibility necessary for managing your practice.”

PROJECT PROFILE:

NAME: AXIS VANAM
CATEGORY: ARCHITECTURE, LANDSCAPE
LOCATION: BENGALURU, INDIA
http://thepurpleinkstudio.com/projects/view_project/9
ABOUT DESIGN: Axis Vanam is designed as an exclusive apartment that connects with greens at every level. Each apartment has an extended private garden blurring the line between the outdoor and indoors. The community living is enriched by including the productive greens at the ground floors that encourages residents to growing they own food and imbibe a lifestyle much closer to nature.

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NAME: AD RETAIL
CATEGORY: INTERIORS
LOCATION: BENGALURU, INDIA
http://thepurpleinkstudio.com/projects/view_project/3
ABOUT DESIGN: ABOUT DESIGN: The modest space of 650 sqft is celebrated with an accentuated idea of the arched windows with drapery of the by-gone era which is represented in the most quintessential form, the “Arch”. The strong geometry of an arch articulated in a modern dialog creates the setting for a dramatically themed display. The challenge however was to utilize the space to its full potential in terms of the exhibits. The design was hence planned to juxtapose the elements on display with the interior layout making it a seamless.

NAME: KING’S HOUSE
CATEGORY: ARCHITECTURE, INTERIORS, LANDSCAPE
LOCATION: BENGALURU, INDIA
http://thepurpleinkstudio.com/projects/view_project/14
ABOUT DESIGN: An integrated design approach was followed to evaluate and maximize the energy reductions of the building. Solar studies and simulations were used to generate data regarding daylighting, shadow analysis, rainfall pattern and shading systems. These studies, along with lighting analysis, were critical to generate the load calculations and sizing and selection of all the Mechanical Systems.

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Pragati Maidan Top international architects lead the redesigning project

One of the largest exhibition grounds in India, Pragati Maidan in Delhi is undergoing a transformation as top global architects are redesigning it with a hope to catapult this famous venue to the international league

WORDS: N.B. RAO

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MOST exhibition sites and halls in India have for years been prosaic places, where businessmen, traders, sales personnel and government officials interacted with one another on important dates and browsed through boring stalls.
Thousands of people who have nothing to do with the event also descend on the exhibition halls, collect colourful brochures, fancy bags and other sundry items. Some also dream of bagging a token gift from some of the exhibitors.
Most of the exhibition halls also lack basic design and are shoddily put up at the last minute to meet the needs of the exhibitors. The halls were originally not designed for exhibitions; in fact, many across India have been converted into exhibition halls. Earlier, some were textile mills, factories or ordinary structures.
Things, however, are finally set to change with the massive redevelopment project at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, undoubtedly one of the largest and most prestigious exhibition sites.

Largest exhibition centre
Pragati Maidan is owned and managed by the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), the trade promotion agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It is the largest exhibition centre in India, both in terms of exhibition space (65,054 sq mts) and the number of events held.
The Pragati Maidan Complex – which includes the National Science Centre and Crafts Museum – covers an area of almost 125 acres in the heart of Delhi.
Besides business-to-business (B2B) trade fairs, it also hosts large consumer fairs including the India International Trade Fair, Auto Expo and World Book Fair.

Though Pragati Maidan enjoys better average occupancy of over 30 per cent (as compared to many international exhibition venues, which have 10 to 20 per cent occupancy), it has been losing clientele because of the mushrooming of a number of similar venues across India.
And Pragati Maidan has not been able to host large international exhibitions, despite India’s emergence on the global map as a major economic power.

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Consequently, the Government recently went in for a major redevelopment plan for an integrated exhibition-cum-convention centre at Pragati Maidan. The project is expected to cost a whopping ₹2,250 crore.

Top architecture firms
The redevelopment is led by a consortium comprising Aedas, one of the world’s leading architecture and design group, and Arcop, a top Canadian architectural firm. The Government chose the two from a list of nearly 20 international architectural firms who participated in a design competition.
The revamped Pragati Maidan will feature a convention centre for nearly 15,000 people – making it the largest in India – about 100,000 sq mts of exhibition space, highest exhibition halls in India (with heights of above 18 m), a 3,000-seat amphitheatre and plenary and multi-function halls,
The entire project is being executed by the National Building Corporation Ltd (NBCC), which will also maintain the exhibition complex for five years. According to an NBCC official, the convention centre that is being planned will have a capacity of 7,000.
The Indian government also plans to lease out 3.7 acres of land (for 99 years) at the complex to private players for developing a hotel.
By the time the revamped Pragati Maidan complex gets ready next year, it would have transformed the exhibition architecture landscape in the country, and catapulted Delhi to the international exhibition league.

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Creating Smart and Safe Cities

Everyone wants to live in them, yet cities are crumbling with excessive population and deepening safety and security concerns. Nishka Rathi looks at how urban planners and thinkers are ideating to create sustainable, smart and safe cities…

The shiny lights induce thousands of rural folk every week in India to pack their bags and move to cities looking for a better life, lucrative jobs, improved healthcare and amenities.
Yet, cities have a dark side too. There are hundreds of thousands of people who become victims to violence, car accidents and pollution. Delhi, for instance, is known as the rape capital of the country and it rarely wishes away its polluted haze; Mumbai is a veritable mountain of waste with 7,000 metric tonnes of refuse spewed each day and around 7.5 million commuters crammed in local trains; it is fast scrambling to find solutions.

Residents in cities realise what they lack – from playgrounds for kids to security for women, transport facilities, clean air, adequate water… the list goes on. If cities are our only option at living a better life in India, then how can we make our cities better?
In a TED talk, Robert Muggah, a Canadian political scientist, spoke about the fragility of cities. He said, “Fragility occurs when the social contract comes unstuck leading to multiple kinds of risks: income inequality, poverty, youth unemployment, different issues around violence – even exposure to droughts, cyclones and earthquakes,” he noted recently.

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Fragility not permanent
And fragility is not a permanent condition. Some cities that were once the most fragile in the world – like Bogotá in Colombia or Ciudad Juárez in Mexico – have now stabilised and are doing well. But fragility is fast deepening, especially in those parts of the world that are most vulnerable: North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia. Muggah cautions that when cities become too fragile, they can collapse, tip over and fail.
How do we stop our cities in India from crumbling and how can the Smart City Mission help us strengthen the very

core of our cities? Will technology for smart cities make them sustainable, inclusive and above all more compassionate to the varying needs of the people who live there? In short, how smart are our cities?
Recently, this writer attended a UN Habitat’s Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) hosted by Red Dot Foundation (Safecity) and a gender stakeholder meet of the Stockholm Gender Forum by the Swedish Institute in Mumbai.
The organisers sought to involve the youth, the future leaders of the city to play a part in solving gender equality-led issues due to rapid urbanisation.

Latha Shankarnarayan, CEO of Developmatrix and one of the key organisers of UTC, noted that “for many women, cities have spaces of fear, areas where they have to constantly look over their shoulders.”

Smart technology and Safety
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can increase safety by recording data, maintaining records and providing active surveillance through CCTV cameras, embedded sensors, etc at most locations.

In many developing countries these settlements have been growing unmonitored, with no proper provisions for even essential services. In such a situation smart cities technology can help. The strategy and involvement should come from planners, stakeholders and citizens.
In many Indian cities the answers can only be piecemeal because they have already grown in a higgledy-piggledy fashion, with building upon building, green spaces changed overnight to malls and buildings, choking cities and leading to yearly waterlogging crisis in places like Mumbai and smog in Delhi

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Along with technology, we also need connectivity. But this begs a question – will the population of a smart city need to be technologically savvy and in possession of a smart phone to access safety?
Urban population expands in three ways: natural rise in population; the migration of rural dwellers; and as settlements expand and become more densely populated, the reclassification of rural settlements as urban.
Lack of planning and the missing will to strategise on a city’s growth in these three stages lead to the mess we are in today.
In many developing countries, these settlements have been growing unmonitored, with no proper provisions for even essential services. In such a situation, smart cities technology can help. The strategy and involvement should come from planners, stakeholders and citizens.

In many Indian cities, the answers can only be piecemeal because they have already grown in a higgledy-piggledy fashion, with building upon building, green spaces changed overnight to make way for malls and commercial establishments, choking cities and leading to yearly challenges such as waterlogging crisis in places like Mumbai and smog in Delhi.

Smart city and compassion
Smart cities can reduce congestion, cut crime and provide timely amenities for its residents. Yet far too often, these benefits do not extend to those most in need – the poor, the disabled, the homeless, those without Internet access or technical savvy as often left behind doe to socio-economic factors.

In such an environment, initiatives like The Youth Design Innovation Challenge are a small experiment to involve the youth of a city in its urban planning. Currently, this initiative is open only in Mumbai but in future, the organisers plan to reach out to the youth in other Indian cities.
This helps people explain and express what they need from their city much better as only the locals can exactly pinpoint the areas that need addressing. Yes, helping transform a city by making its smart folk count requires more ideas for a comprehensive solution that includes all. Technology should be treated as one of the aspects of a smart city; it helps but it cannot be a 360 degree solution.
When you ask questions like ‘How would that work for the disabled?’ or ‘How could we extend these benefits to those without a broadband connection?’ you’ll start finding the answers. Till then the growth will be one-sided and fragmented.