Dec 15, 2011

Urban Planning and development: finding solutions from chaos itself

By - Anoop Jha

City Constraint is the mother of urban Innovation

In architecture and planning we face different challenges every day, unique constraints for every individual project. Necessity is the mother of invention but “Constraint is the mother of Innovation”. More challenging the constraint more innovative would be the solution; more unique would be the outcome. 

Urban planning constraints can be of different natures like constraint imposed by site profile and contours, high water table constraint, extreme and unpredictable climate, congestion chaos, manpower constraints, and material unavailability, land availability constraints, shortage of energy etc and solutions which emerged from these constraints were driven by these constraints only, e.g. site profile and contours help formulize the form and pattern of city, high water table forces engineers to design buoyant and floating foundations, extreme and unpredictable climate required planners and engineers to manage task in most efficient and least time possible and invent speedy construction techniques, traffic congestion showed ways to innovate in mass transit and public transport mode, manpower constraint called for automation, material unavailability forced to utilize local material for construction and to innovate with local material, land unavailability forced to go high-rise, shortage of energy inspired to innovate and use renewable energy.  

Each one of these challenges gave a reason to mankind to move forward, to innovate; a reason not to stagnate, a reason to search for some solution and thanks to this inherent inquisitive and daring nature of mankind planners, architects, engineers and scientists have always succeeded to find out a unique solution for every unique constraint imposed by nature. So one should be very optimistic when it comes to urban planning and city development, that no matter how challenging is the site for new development of no matter how bad the current situation of an existing city of town is it can be resolved and interesting part is that the solution will emerge from the chaos of city itself, a very unique, localized, and innovative solution of urban planning which once accomplished can reposition the city on an altogether different level of functionality and character never thought of earlier.

How it is to be done should be left to the creativity of planners backed by visions of city administration, voice of city population. Few thoughts on urban redevelopment which emerges from the chaos itself can be - Retrofitting city nodes and transit arteries while retaining the basic historic character and pattern of streets, organizing loose street edges, reinforcing green nodes, defining “influence envelop” of each nodal activity and strengthening localized support infrastructure for that, networking of missing transit links, it’s also time to reevaluate age old Landuse of city etc.


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