Nov 29, 2011

Every city has stories to tell - What planners can learn from them

By Anoop Jha 

Tender and holistic side of Urban Planning

Every city has past layers of experience covered under the veneers of present. There are mysterious and fascinating stories created by time, locked in the hidden recesses of the city waiting to be explored. Every corner of city has impression of time engraved on its surface, which tells stories to passers by. Stories created by the residents of city and told to residents of city.

Cities are like story book .Older the existence of cities bigger the story book. City is a cumulative experience of mankind; it is result of evolution of mankind as an efficient species. Cities have evolved and will keep growing and expanding like living organism, amidst all this evolutionary history there has been numerous experience gathered by city dwellers which has been passed on from generations to generations, some of which has even become myth.

Nature of Stories varies from region to region and as per characteristics of city. Every city with similar characteristics  have something similar to tell, for instance towns of hills have similar stories derived from the generations of experience emerged from somewhat common experiences of similar climatic conditions, similar terrain, similar lifestyle and available facilities. Modern fast pace cities have somewhat common stories to tell from the similar problems and opportunities available in cities tike, traffic, high-rise living, mass transport, entertainment etc.

Because of such mysterious and interesting characteristic of cities it has attracted attention of , writers, poets, film makers, artists etc. They either dig into the history of city or carefully watch the ongoing flux of life of city to get inspired.

Though all this is an glittering ornament of experience, made with cumulative effort of generations of city dwellers, molded and carved in the heat of time, Its an important role of an urban planner to dig into the history of city to understand the nature and temperament of city, to learn the lessons from the stories of experience and then only plan, expand and revitalize the city which can be readily accepted  by residents of city without their feelings of attachment with city being hurt, with which they have grown. This is an essential part of the holistic planning but unfortunately we tend to neglect this tender but vital part of city planning process.

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