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Nirlon Knowledge Park is a 23 acre GOLD LEED certified campus, combining an international standard of facilities and infrastructure with occupant friendly planning. The present occupants include Barclays, Citi, Cushman & Wakefield, Deutsche Bank, Ernst & Young, IBM, ICICI Prudential, LRN Technology, Morgan Stanley, NetMagic Solutions and Tata Consultancy Services.


For further details, please contact RAJAN KAPASHI, +91 98201 95343, EMAIL:


Visualise the kind of city you want to live in. Which Technology works best with the physical nature of cities to make them more liveable? Do Smart Technological solutions integrate with traditional practices of urban design and planning? Can high-tech and low-tech solutions be combined for best results? How do we continue to use appropriate Technology based on traditional wisdom to make our cities more liveable? Will Technology deliver greater democratisation of cities?

For answers to all these and many more questions join MyLiveableCity on 17th April 2015 at the India International Centre in New Delhi. MyLiveableCity will bring together some of the finest thinkers and practitioners from India and across the world for a day-long seminar and networking event. This is an opportunity to meet city mayors, bureaucrats, town planners, landscape designers, architects, developers and other visionaries along with experts on Intelligent Communities, sustainability, innovation and new towns. To register for the event, write to us at: or log onto :

Make It Clever Competition If you are a student, a young professional or a team of young people under the age of 30 (by December 2014), you can take part in our competition: “How can Technology contribute to the liveability of our cities?� Write or illustrate your thoughts on a single A3 size sheet of paper. The top 3 ideas will find a place in our April-June 2015 issue which will focus on Technology. Note: Application deadline: Feb 01, 2015; Submission deadline: Feb 20, 2015 For more details on the competition write to Yamini Kumar at


Write to me at

This issue is dedicated to Jay Kshirsagar, Chief Town Planner of the Government of India, who passed away totally unexpectedly on an early morning in November 2014. We had Jay’s unflinching support and encouragement from the moment we started thinking of bringing out a magazine aimed at improving the quality of life in our cities. His early demise robs our magazine of one of its first and most ardent supporters and in him I have personally lost a great friend. As Robert Frost once said, “Life goes on” and so we carry on with an even greater commitment to make a difference to our cities.

T Shyam Khandekar Founder & Editorial Director

his issue deals with USE and REUSE, with a focus on transformation of buildings and urban artefacts, regeneration and reuse of urban landscapes, redevelopment of cities or parts thereof as well as the clever reuse of products we use in our cities. It brings together information from diverse places: the temporary settlements of the Saharawis in western Sahara, an abandoned ensemble of buildings in Tijara, Rajasthan, the ancient island of Malta in the Mediterranean, Cape Town in South Africa and the former industrial heartland of the Ruhr in Germany. All these articles share an important message. That creative reuse of what is old and what seems to have outlived its utility is something we ought to cherish because it is often very sustainable. Such creative reuse also serves the purpose of exposing layers of history, making our cities more meaningful and strengthening their identities. Yet while the articles in this themed issue deal with reuse of the physical environment of our cities, there are two other non-physical issues where judicious reuse will contribute greatly to our lives and also make our cities more liveable. The first is the reuse of energy. This will reduce the urban footprint on the already overburdened nature and reduce environmental pollution and make our cities healthier places to live in. The second and probably most important form of reuse is related to the reuse of information and ideas. As we go through a period in history where we are engulfed by an unprecedented tsunami of new facts and information, we must not forget to once again implement those ideas which have stood the test of time and which, reinterpreted and transformed, will still be relevant in making our future cities more liveable. It is in this humbleness to accept the fact that what is new is not necessarily better than what is reused and in reusing the wisdom of past generations will we find the basis for more liveability in our cities. Cities are organisms to which Darwin’s Theory of Evolution applies. Consistent and thoughtful evolution and not abrupt revolution will make for better cities. Those that adapt and evolve will survive and prosper. Those that fail to do so will stagnate and, in the long term, become inconsequential.

Also follow us on

Cities We Like

Consistent and thoughtful evolution and not abrupt revolution will make for better cities


An architect, urban designer and planner by training, Shyam has nearly four decades of professional experience designing several prize-winning projects in Europe and India. He has lectured and published extensively on different aspects of Liveable Cities at universities and conferences across the world. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 05

CULTURE CORNER>Amstredam city


INDIA + THE NETHERLANDS Founders Shyam Khandekar Shashikala Venkatraman Editorial Director Shyam Khandekar Editor Meera Joshi Edit-India Amit Arya, Mumbai Sailesh Ghelani (Content & Social Media) Buvana Murali, Mumbai Rujuta Ranade, Delhi Pritha Sardessai, Panaji Karna Sengupta, Bhopal Varna Shashidhar, Bengaluru Edit-International Bruce Echberg, Australia Amrita Kulkarni, Chicago, USA Hélène Leriche, France Shreya Malu, San Francisco, USA Ashim Manna, Belgium Menaka Sahai, England Levi Wichgers, The Netherlands Antoine Zammit, Malta Columnists Suvarna Apte Dalvie, Hong Kong John J. Jung, Canada Sumitra Naren, The Netherlands Anamika Prasad, India Art Seema Taneja Cover Illustration Mahafuj Ali Publisher Shashikala Venkatraman Marketing Team Sanjana Eipe (Marketing) Sanjivani Apte (Subscriptions, North India) Dhanu S. Rao (Subscriptions, South India)

Mahafuj Ali is a landscape architect by training and profession. Additionally, he is a talented cartoonist and illustrator and has won various national architectural cartoon awards in India.

Vinayak Bharne, who created and edited the book The Emerging Asian City is an urbanisation consultant based in Los Angeles and a Professor of Urbanism at the University of Southern California (USC). His other books include Zen Spaces and Neon Places: Reflections on Japanese Architecture & Urbanism, and Rediscovering the Hindu Temple: The Sacred Architecture and Urbanism of India.

Marketing queries Ad Sales Subscriptions Mob: +919820126505 My Liveable City takes no responsibility for unsolicited photographs or material. All maps and photographs, unless otherwise indicated, are used for illustrative purposes only. RNI No.MAHENG/2014/58295. Printed & Published by Shashikala Venkatraman for the Owner Ironman Media & Advisory Services Pvt Ltd. Published at 1903 Polaris Tower, Vasant Galaxy Complex, Off New Link Road, Goreagon(W), Mumbai-400 104 and printed at Cirrus Graphics Pvt Ltd, B-61, Sector 67, Noida 201301, U.P. , India Editor: Meera Joshi Distributed by Living Media India Limited. All rights reserved worldwide. Reproducing in any manner without prior written permission is prohibited. ISSUE DATE Jan-Mar, 2015, ISSUE NUMBER: Vol: 1, Issue 3 For editorial queries, email: 06 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Bruce Echberg is the founding director of Urban Initiatives, a Melbourne based landscape and urban design studio that focuses on the design of public projects that enhance the quality of Australian towns and cities.

Amrita Kulkarni is a design researcher and strategist with an MA+MSc from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College in London. Her work associations include Coca Cola, Ford and Hager on projects across India, England, France and Mali in Africa. She is based out of Chicago, United States, working as a design researcher and strategist for innovation consultancy, IA Collaborative.

Hélène Leriche is a French architect and urban designer based in the Netherlands. Hélène will be focusing on international showcases and how these are relevant and inspirational for Indian cities. She has been working for several years on major international urban design projects including those in India.

Shreya Malu studied architecture from SPA (School of Planning and Architecture), Delhi and did a Masters in Urban Design from Columbia University, New York. Her love for both cities and nature and the unrelenting search for the missing link to make cities truly sustainable led her to be part of this magazine.

Michelle Provoost, PhD, is an architectural historian, curator and consultant on urban planning and architectural affairs. From 2008 she has been the director of the International New Town Institute in Almere, the Netherlands, a nonprofit think and do-tank, engaging in researchby-design to improve the quality of life in new cities worldwide.

Pritha Sardessai, born and brought up in Goa, graduated as an architect from the Goa College of Architecture. Besides running an architectural practice, she is passionate about her city Panaji and conducts heritage walks on request through her programme Cholta Cholta.

Karna Sengupta has studied architecture in India and urban design in the UK. He has been teaching in the realm of the built environment at the School of Planning and Architecture at Bhopal. An avid traveller, he loves photographing cities and landscapes and writing travelogues.

Rosie Severens is an experienced urban designer-planner and leads her own practice specialising in the management of large scale urban redevelopment projects. Due to her extensive experience and creativity, she is able to combine high quality of delivery with financial realism.

Shashikala Venkatraman is a management consultant with three decades of experience having lived and worked in India, Europe, the Middle East and the USA. Until recently, she was the Chief Operating Officer of the BBC - Times Group joint venture that publishes around 30 magazines.

Levi Wichgers got his Master’s degree in urbanism from Rotterdam and is based in the Netherlands. He has over a decade of professional experience in the field of Urban Design and Planning, involving complex urban projects. He is particularly interested in the strategy of growth and mobility in urban centres.

Dr Antoine Zammit, architect and urban designer, leads his Malta-based design consultancy Studjurban, lectures in spatial planning, urban design and urban governance at the University of Malta and advises the Malta Environment and Planning Authority on major policy revisions.

Buvana Murali is an architect and urban designer with a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She has worked for over a decade in architecture and urban projects of all scales in three continents. She is passionate about photography and the use of the image as a story telling device. Amit Arya is an architect with a Master’s degree from Cornell University, NY. He has worked on projects in Asia, America and the Middle East and is passionate about architecture and its relationship with the public realm. Maneka Sahai is a qualified planner, urban designer and architect. She has worked as a civil servant in England for 12 years, providing design policy advice on major development projects. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 07

Contents City Lights

The Joy Of Cities

A fast-paced glimpse at the vitality of cities

Designing, planning and developing cities in the context of their past, present and future


Numbers Speak Fascinating facts


Products for Better City Living Making recycling cool and fun


Recommended Reading Curated ‘must reads’ from the editorial team


Emerging Asia The interesting origins and fusions of Asian cities


City with a past: Srirangam Boston Educating the world

16 Events

Roster of upcoming events, conferences and festivals for the urban enthusiast

18 City Walks

Through the land of the Golden Temple: Amritsar 08 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015


The spiritual and the modern dance effortlessly in Srirangam

Cities We Like


Urban Blueprint A series of case studies that capture the transformational qualities of well-designed cities




Van Nelle Factory Old becomes new

A hard-nosed look at what makes cities liveable or unliveable!

Culture Corner Bombay Port Trust Will Mumbai’s abandoned Eastern waterfront be available for its citizens?




Anamika Prasad tells us how to reuse and recycle

Emscher Landscape Park Reusing industry to create new urban landscapes

52 Tijara

The Neemrana Group melds history with the present


Cape Town Rethinking urban density


Nirlon Knowledge



Milton Keynes

Smart City John G. Jung on how innovation can transform waste into wonders

Redeveloping a defunct industrial site to create an idyllic workplace



112 Nantes

Jules Verne’s hometown gets a fantasy makeover



Urban Delight

Adaptive reuse in action

Paddington Reservoir, Australia

A New Town that works

Change Agents Meeting up with city lovers and organisations who are making a difference

88 92 Interview with Aman Nath

Citizen participation

The founder of Neemrana tells us about his fight against waste

A Residents Welfare Association is born to reclaim a neighbourhood

100 Edible City

Sumitra Naren implores us to save the bees for our own survival Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 09

CITY LIGHTS>Numbers Speak

4 7 It is estimated that about 8% to 10% of the waste i.e. about

million MT of waste generated in the urban areas in India is retrieved by waste pickers and handed over to a recycling industry.


million tonnes We generate of food waste every year. If we compost that food, it would reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas as taking two million cars off the road. landfill gas recovery projects in India will result in an overall greenhouse gas emissions’ reduction of 7.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents. CO2 emissions from all volcanoes are about 0.5 million tonnes per day.

355 square metres

The amount of urban waste has increased to about three billion residents generating

1.2 kg

per person per day

(1.3 billion tonnes per year). By 2025, this will likely increase to 4.3 billion urban residents generating about 1.42 kg per capita per day of municipal solid waste (2.2 billion tonnes per year).


In 2005, cities occupied

of the Earth’s surface but the inhabitants used 75% of the planet’s natural resources. 10 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

For each new resident, rich countries add an average of

of built up area, middle income countries 125 sq. m. and low income countries 85 sq. m.

In the USA, home construction, remodeling and demolition projects are responsible for

25% to 30%

of the nation’s annual municipal solid waste.

City Lights

“The Polyfloss material allows us to create new plastic products with unique properties and the ability to be multi-structured�

CITY LIGHTS>Products for Better City Living


In an attempt to disrupt the bleak meaning associated with recycling, Amrita Kulkarni presents four projects that describe the practice as ‘unbelievable’, ‘fun’, ‘inspiring’ and ‘luxurious’


he whole recycling and green thing has gotten so damn boring in recent years that we felt we had to do something,” proclaims a represenatative of a New York based real estate developer firm Macro Sea, talking about their visceral recycling centre ‘Glasphemy!’. A steel tower that allows one to hurl glass bottles at bullet proof glass, the structure ultimately recycles the shards into lights and other glass-art. Celebrating the illicit thrill of smashing bottles doesn’t quite resonate with saving the planet, but that is the exact intent of ‘Glasphemy!’ – to break away from the tedious semantic of recycling. When did reduce, reuse and recycle come to be described with dreary adjectives? The debate over sustainability and depleting resources is an ongoing one. There is now consensus over the need for reconsidered use and discarding of plastics, paper, rubber tyres, metals, textiles, Styrofoam and so on. While increased awareness in consumption and sorting of waste helps, what could really propel a wave of change is a paradigm shift; a change in the very meaning associated with recycling. To help integrate it into our lifestyles, to push for acceptability, to elevate in value and to promote use of recycled goods, we need new adjectives for recycling! Representing ‘unbelievable’ is NewspaperWood, a product that reverses a traditional production process by manufacturing a wood-like material from newspaper. Cutting through a log of NewspaperWood, layers of paper appear like lines of a wood grain or rings of a tree. The material can be cut, milled, sanded and generally treated like any other type of wood. Demonstrating ‘fun’ through a ‘Polyfloss 12 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Machine’ similar to a cotton candy machine, The Polyfloss Factory has created a way for plastic to be transformed and manufactured on a small scale. Spinning the ‘plastic wool’ into a spool like cotton candy, the fibres are collected and transformed into bespoke innovations in vibrant colours. What could describe a bike – durable, light, sturdy, fire and water resistant – that is made almost entirely of recycled cardboard? ‘Inspiring’, of course. Izhar Gafni’s idea of folding cardboard in an origami style, making it strong, has landed him with a winning design that is attracting international interest. An engineer and maker at heart, he has begun working on future plans for cardboard wheelchairs, baby strollers and supermarket trolleys. An adjective that could utterly disrupt the semantic of recycled goods, as demonstrated by Florie Salnot – is ‘luxurious’. Through her Plastic Gold project, she has developed an artisanal technique to create pieces of jewellery using discarded plastic bottles, hot sand and simple hand tools. Designed specifically for Saharawi refugees in the Algerian desert, her aim is to offer them a sustainable way to generate income within the camp. The results are incredible and once you see the jewellery, you won’t look at a plastic bottle the same way again. Innovative design represented by such products has the potential to attract attention, create a social media buzz, craft a new market and change consumer behaviour. It can also help in educating and building awareness about the meaning of recycling – beyond the recurring phrase: ‘Saving the planet’!

When did reduce, reuse and recycle come to be described with dreary adjectives?

Spinning the ‘plastic wool’ into a spool like cotton candy, the fibres are collected and transformed into bespoke innovations in vibrant colours

1 NEWSPAPERWOOD>Eindhoven, Netherlands>2003-present

Mieke Meijier & Design label Vij5

photographs: all images by the designers

The main theme in the project is ‘upcycling’ with which we show how you can change a surplus of material into something more valuable by using it in another context.

Every day, piles of newspapers are discarded and recycled into new paper. During her study at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2003, Mieke Meijier devised a solution to use this surplus of paper into a renewed material. NewspaperWood is dedicated to the production and development of this material in order to find new intermediate products and innovative applications. Through innovations in the production process, NewspaperWood has recently evolved into a paper-thin material. Folding techniques reinforce the material whilst providing an aesthetic that corresponds with its origin. Through their collaboration with Peugeot, the resultant Onyx concept car has NewspaperWood used on the dashboard, the w-shaped element around seats and door panels. The combination with wool felt fabric results, especially for the car industry, in a rather special interior. Additional info:

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 13

CITY LIGHTS>Products for Better City Living

2 THE POLYFLOSS FACTORY>London, England>2012-present

Nicholas Paget, Emile de Visscher, Audrey Gaulard, Christophe Machet

It is well known that plastic waste in landfills and carbon-dioxide emissions from mass incineration of plastic are global issues. In the UK alone over five million tonnes of plastic waste is produced each year and, of this, less than a quarter is recycled. Production using plastic has little human technique and almost always requires huge machines controlled by computers. All this makes it a material for mass-production, not appropriate on a small scale. And this has an effect on recycling and re-use: unlike wood, metal or textiles, the knowledge of transforming plastic is exclusive to industry. The Polyfloss Factory has created a way for plastic to be transformed and manufactured on a small scale. With their technology, they hope to provide an innovative solution to redirect plastic waste from the landfill and turn it into useful, high value products. Additional info:

The Polyfloss material allows us to create new plastic products with unique properties and have the ability to be multistructured.

3 CARDBOARD BIKE>Tel Aviv, Israel> 2012-present

Izhar Gafni

The cardboard bike is the first of its kind, made of recycled cardboard along with melted recycled plastic and car tyres. Despite being primarily made of cardboard, the bicycle is durable, fire and water resistant and can support up to 135 kg. It costs a mere $9 to make and will sell for $20 eventually. The Cardboard Technologies’ industrial and environmental game-changing revolution will touch both consumers and enterprise. Imagine a time when every plastic or cardboard product that is thrown into the recycle bin will contribute to the creation of a bicycle, a toy or a wheelchair. Additional info: 14 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

“We’re idealists, and proud of it. We can see a future Where transportation is much more eco-friendly and Where more people have access to it“.

4 PLASTIC GOLD >London, England> 2009-present

Florie Salnot

The Saharawis are a former nomadic tribe from Western Sahara. In 1975, Morocco annexed their territory and, since then, over half of them have been living in camps in exile. There is virtually no work and resources available, which makes them totally dependent on humanitarian help. Over the years in exile, the Saharawis have been attempting to perpetuate their distinctive culture, and Plastic Gold aims to provide them with an open-source technique and tools with which they can design their own pieces and invigorate their local craft traditions in an original manner. The plastic bottle is painted and then cut into thin strips with a cutting tool. As this plastic reacts to the heat, the strips can then be shaped thanks to hot sand. The piece of jewellery then requires a few last steps and fittings to be ready for the market. Additional info: PlasticGoldPart2.html

“I plan on going back to the camp to launch a product to be sold within the European market which would provide the Saharawis with a better income than the one currently generated in the local market.”

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 15


Jan-aPR, mustsee mustdo mustexperience 2015

Jaipur Literature Festival 21-25 January 2015 Jaipur, India Asia’s biggest literary festival is an annual event held in Jaipur since 2006. From Nobel laureates to local language writers, Man Booker prize winners to debut novelists, every January the most remarkable, witty, sensitive and brilliant collection of authors come together at the Diggi Palace for five days of readings, debates and discussions. Speakers in this eighth edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival will include Nobel Laureate Sir V. S. Naipaul, 2013 Man Book Prize Winner Eleanor Catton, acclaimed novelist Hanif Kureishi and celebrated American travel writer Paul Theroux along with some of India’s leading authors, including Neel Mukherjee, Amish Tripathi and Arshia Sattar. For details and registration please visit

15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS 2015) 5-7 February 2015 Delhi, India DSDS 2015 will focus on ‘Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change’. Organised by The Energy and Resources 16 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Institute (TERI), the DSDS is an international platform to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on all sustainable development-related issues. The event regularly brings together Heads of State and Government, thought leaders, policy makers and representatives of industry and academia. An annual event since 2001, the Summit has so far hosted 37 current and former Heads of State, as well as ministers from over 50 countries. For further details visit

ISOLA 2015 Conference Wisdom, Values and Landscape Architecture: Towards Smart Cities 19-21 February 2015 Pune, India The 10th Conference of ISOLA (Indian Society of Landscape Architects) aims to discuss human values, their effect on urban landscape architecture and the wisdom involved in reestablishing the inseparable connection between them. The conference will attempt to emerge with an agenda for landscapes of cities of the future. A two-day event, the conference will bring together landscape architects and allied professionals from across India and some from other parts of the world. For more information, visit

The World Bicycle Forum 26 February - 1 March 2015, Medellín, Colombia The World Bicycle Forum is the biggest citizen-led global event to promote bicycles in cities. The forum will relate to how cities can be

organised to benefit all its citizens while employing the bicycle as a vehicle for social change and urban equity. The theme for 2015 is ‘Cities for All’, relating to ideas geared for humans and living spaces. While societies across the world are urbanising, they face environmental as well as social challenges. At the same time the bicycle is gaining momentum as a serious transportation option and catalyst for creating better living spaces for all humans. It is time for the bicycle to take a leading role in shaping an equitable and sustainable city for all. The forum will be celebrating and furthering the work of various stakeholders (individuals, groups, NGOs, businesses or government agencies). It will feature speakers from academia, government and active citizens. For further details visit

Transnationalism from Above and Below: The Dynamics of Place-making in the Global City 8-11 April Miami, USA The conference is organised by the Urban Affairs Association (UAA), which is the international professional organisation for urban scholars, researchers and public service professionals. It is dedicated to creating interdisciplinary spaces for engaging in intellectual and practical discussions about urban life. These yearly conferences are an integral part of UAA’s efforts to increase knowledge about urban places and promote the development of research

activities. They provide an excellent opportunity for members to exchange ideas, information and experiences. The conference programme features both topics of institutional concern and those related to urban issues. For more information visit

Clever Technologies; Humanised Cities 17 April, 2015 New Delhi, India A one-day seminar and networking event organised to mark the first anniversary of MyLiveableCity. We plan to bring together some of the finest thinkers and practitioners from India and across the world, thereby offering an excellent opportunity to meet city mayors, bureaucrats, town planners, landscape designers, architects, developers and other visionaries along with experts on Intelligent Communities, sustainability, innovation and new towns. Do Smart Technological solutions integrate with traditional practices of urban design and planning? Can high-tech and low-tech solutions be combined for best results? Find answers to these and many more questions during the interactive sessions. To register for the event, write to us at: For further details visit


Around Amritsar Pritha Sardessai takes us on a vibrant walk through the city of the Golden Temple


he Golden Temple is undisputedly the first image you associate with the city of Amritsar. And then, like a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, aromas and tastes, the city draws you in. Amritsar is truly an embodiment of the Punjabi spirit: men of muscle, brightly dressed damsels, a culinary haven, thumping music, dance and a whopping appetite for life. Yet, through the din and chaos of this vibrant city, you can also grab a moment of tranquility and spiritual ecstasy. The 450-year-old city was originally called Ramdaspur after its founder, Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru. It was common for a Guru to found a new town as another spiritual centre. He ordered the digging of a large tank, calling it the Amrit Sarovar or the pool of nectar. His successor Guru Arjan Dev built a shrine in it and placed the holy Adi Granth there. The city grew as a spiritual centre and a large number of traders were invited to settle here and transact business. It steadily expanded from a town to a city under the pontificate of the Gurus that followed and 200 years later was renamed Amritsar. Deviating from the path of pure spirituality, Sikhism adopted militancy after Guru Arjan Dev was martyred in Lahore at the hands of the Mughals in 1606. His son and successor Guru Hargobind established the Akal Takht and the city of Ramdaspur was fortified for the first time. For the next 100 years, conflicts with the Mughals and

the Afghans continued and after the last Guru, Gobind Singh, passed away the city came under the protection of Sikh military groups called jathas or misls. They built their own fortified residential cum trading complexes called katras. Even today, the katras form an integral part of the city plan and contain the dense commercial district. The chieftains also built havelis and bungas for themselves. Only a few have managed to survive the vicissitudes of time and remain a testimony to the glorious period of Sikh architecture. The city reached its zenith when all the misls united under the first Sikh empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It was further fortified with two massive gateways; impressive buildings and gardens were built, the shrine was gilded, trade opened and Amritsar was recognised as a formidable force parallel to Lahore. The city came under British rule in 1840. They razed the fortification, built buildings for administration, constructed sanitation drains and increased the rail and road connections to other cities. In the next half-century, many missionary and educational structures came up. Though trade and commerce were encouraged, the city lost its parity with Lahore, which became the headquarters of the whole of Punjab. The inner core of the city got densely populated and congested. The British administration started off

Like a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds, aromas and tastes, the city draws you in






18 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015







Even today, the katras form an integral part of the city plan and contain the dense commercial district

These 450 years of history can be best experienced through a walk in the old city

imposing gateway of Qila ahlUwalia

baba bohar- the sacred banyan tree

Called Baba Bohar, it has witnessed the age of the Gurus, the foundation of the city and for centuries has protected meditating saints and preachers from the elements of nature. It is fascinating to see how the buildings have brass ‘dona’ Used to been built around it carry milk- a common sight in amritsar and how it has held various communities together. The Thakurdwara Dariani Mal and Shahni Mandir are beautifully crafted shrines dedicated to Hindu Gods that one finds along the way, showcasing the exquisite Pinjara woodwork and colourful frescoes. The Chowrasti Atri built by Guru Hargobind to invite traders still functions as a busy commercial space and leads on to the Taksal (Mint House) where currency was minted under various chieftains and the king. The ‘Crawling Street’ is a grim reminder of the humiliation the locals faced during the colonial period where commuters were made to crawl on the street as the consequence of an assault by a charged mob on a lady missionary. These events were a run-up to the ghastly massacre, which the city will never forget. Then, past the ‘ancient passage’ between two katras, which today house the Chudi Bazaar, is a space of romance and aspiration, where a Punjabi bride chooses her wedding chura from a resplendent array of red and white bangles. Past the Bagh Akalian and Galliara Gardens, one ends the walk at the entrance to the Harminder Saheb more famously known as the Golden Temple. The first sight of the gilded shrine is mesmerising. Upon entering the parikrama, the meditative melodies of the Sukh Mani Saheb floating through the quietness fills the space with religious ecstasy. One could go on for the entire day, partake in the seva, the langar and soak in the spirit of the Khalsa. The neighbouring Jallianwala Bagh is a somber space, a must-visit, reminiscent of a day that changed the psyche of an entire community. The bullet-ridden wall, the Martyrs’ Well sends a chill down one’s spine but as you walk out in silence, onto a street of colourful jutis and Phulkari, aromatic papad-warias and shining brassware, through the din and the chaos…. lies the triumph of the human spirit.


with local participation but gradually became autocratic. Like in all other towns and cities, the unrest picked up and the city had its fair share of political tragedies, the worst being the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919. This changed Sikh politics and further intensified the struggle for freedom. The early years of the 20th century saw a cultural and industrial revival of the city with the springing up of educational institutions. But the Partition of India left a deep scar; the division of a community crushed the spirit of the city and the proximity to the border further hindered progress. Today, this cultural and commercial capital of Punjab is surely looking up to an era of progress. These 450 years of history can be best experienced through a walk in the old city. Promoted by the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board, it starts at the Town Hall, the symbol of colonial architecture built in 1866 that still remains the centre of the local administration. Then to the Gurudwara Saragarhi built in 1902 to honour the memory of the 21 Sikh soldiers who went down guarding the Saragarhi outpost in the North Western Frontier Province. After that, one proceeds to the Qila Ahluwalia. This fort was erected by the formidable chieftain memorial at Jassa Singh Ahluwalia jallianwala bagh who repelled many foreign invasions in the 18th century and paved the way for Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s empire. This area is now the heart of the commercial district. From here, one moves on to the Jalebiwala Chowk where one can savour the internationally acclaimed fried sweet in sugar syrup. The historical significance of this space is that on April 9, 1919, Hindu-Muslim brethren had jointly celebrated Ram Navami protesting against the ‘Divide and rule’ policy of the British. This became a symbol of hope and courage but unfortunately led to some untoward incidents that snowballed into a ghastly massacre on April 13. As one walks on, one gets to see fine examples of Sikh architecture in the Akharas, the serais built for spiritual seekers who visited the holy city. The Udasin Ashram Akhara Sangalwala is in a cave 13 feet underground and still invites holy men. The 200-year-old Chitta Akhara is an architectural gem, with intricate stone carvings and houses an ancient tomb. Right in the middle of the road at the end of Bartan Bazaar stands a Banyan tree, considered sacred due to its ties with ancient practice.

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 19

CITYLIGHTS> Recommended Reading

Interesting reads hand picked by us from around the world The Provisional CiTy: los angeles stories of architecture and Urbanism Dana Cuff, MiT Press

“The provisional city is one of constant erasure and eruption.” Dana Cuff

Dana Cuff’s The Provisional City pursues one central idea: the fact that big projects generate ‘urban convulsions’. The larger the project, the more drastically the city changes — both when the new project erases what used to occupy its site and when it, in turn, is later replaced by something still newer. Her thesis is that nothing stands still. Focusing on Los Angeles, she looks at urban transformation through the architecture and land development of five largescale residential projects beginning from the late 1930s and culminating in the ’90s. Cuff’s main lesson concerns the responsibility of the design professionals who should be more than vague mediators between conflicting stakeholders. Quite the reverse, they should use their power of design to create public realms through planning and participation mechanisms in three ways. Be adaptive to incremental demands, be clearly and easily understood by all the recipients and lastly be a visionary. Moreover, these visionary proposals must give priority to public interest above local demands. The book will fascinate architects, planners, urbanists and landscape architects who are intrigued by space on such large urban scales. The analysis in the book provides insight into how the daunting task of urban development in large metropolises such as Los Angeles might be approached.

rising in The easT Contemporary new Towns in asia rachel Keeton, international new Town institute, sUn Publishers The phenomenon of New Towns is related to economic growth. In the West, it was in the period following the Second World War that New Towns were established to channelise population and economic growth in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, to name just a few of the countries. In the last two decades, as the Asian economies have grown and many countries have had to channelise their galloping pace of urbanisation, they have resorted to establishing New Towns. Yet, besides purely to house new urban populations, some countries have created New Towns to showcase their country’s ambition. In a comprehensive book, in which she categorises the recent spate of New Towns in Asia under six types, namely Eco Cities, Political Cities, Enclave Cities, Economic Cities, High-tech Cities and Shelter Cities, Rachel Keeton informs us of the progress being made.

The eMerging asian CiTy Concomitant Urbanities and Urbanisms editor: vinayak Bharne, routledge Publications, london and new york As an editor, Vinayak Bharne attempts the impossible. To write a book on the cities which, as he himself puts it, “…house nearly half of the world’s inhabitants covering a third of the planet’s land mass, encompassing histories of major world religions - Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity.” And yet, in a series of articles written by academics and professionals on such diverse cities as Surakarta, Damascus, Macau, Islamabad, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, the reader gets a first-hand impression of the kaleidoscope of cities, which have flourished on this vast continent, from countries as diverse as Turkey and Korea to India, Iran, China and Dubai. In the introduction to three chapters entitled Traditions, Tensions and Transformations, Vinayak Bharne makes a brave attempt to categorise these cities and illustrate the underlying principles binding and separating them. A monumental task covered in a small book, a must-read for all those who seek to get a ‘tour de horizon’ of urbanisation in Asia. 20 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

The Joy Of Cities

“Asian cities were born through forces both similar and different from their Western contemporaries�


Re-evaluating Urban Asia

Practicing Urbanist, Professor and author Vinayak Bharne takes us on an interesting journey of Asian cities and tells us about their origins and fusions with other cultures


ith the collapse of several Western economies, the curiosity towards Asia and particularly Asian cities has never been greater than it is today. Yet, the understanding of the Asian urban landscape remains surprisingly simplistic. Most of us continue to see Asia as a set of distinct regions – South, South-East, Middle-East and Far-East – even though such terms are essentially biased constructions by European powers, with reference to their geographic locations. Such breakdowns bias the differences over the similarities and create the false impression that various Asian regions have nothing to do with one another, when the truth is just the opposite. Not only are these regions profoundly interconnected through deep histories, they are also interrelated through numerous social, political and economic realities that unify them as parts of a single gigantic continental land mass we loosely call Asia. In other words, Asia is a mosaic of numerous circumstances, each of which has shaped places of a particular kind at different times in its history.

Asia’s oldest urban landscapes stem as much from cultural and religious beliefs as practical responses to climate and geography. Here one finds the ruins of one of the world’s earliest planned cities, Mohenjodaro (India, 2,600 BCE), with a citadel designed around a great public bath as its central public space. One finds the ruins of Parsa (Persepolis, Iran, 515 BCE), the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid dynasty. One finds China’s first metropolis, Changan, built to the northwest of modern Xian with an area of around 35 sq kms, probably equaled by only Rome (Italy) in size. One finds the remains of Asia’s oldest universities in Nalanda and Taxila (both in India) and its oldest public policy document in Chanakya’s Arthashastra. Some of these ancient landscapes are alive today. The most significant example is the city of Varanasi (India) that still wears vivid traces of its ancient ancestor, Kashi, around where the Buddha gave his first sermon. Such places represent the earliest patterns of formal urbanism in Asia and therefore offer significant clues on how Asian cities were born through forces both similar and different from their Western contemporaries.

Asia is a mosaic of numerous circumstances, each of which has shaped places of a particular kind at different times in its history

Top: Daily Ganga Puja (worship of the Ganga River), Varanasi, India Bottom: View of ghats along the Ganga River, Varanasi, India (Photos by author)

Asian cities were born through forces both similar and different from their Western contemporaries

The second kind of landscape emerges through numerous cultural transfers and exchanges within the continent itself. An example is the planning of the cities like Nara or Kyoto in Japan based on a Chinese predecessor like Changan. Another example is the spread of Islam that establishes great capitals such as Timur’s Samarkhand in Uzbekistan and Shah Abbas’ Isfahan in Iran. This Islamic trajectory finds its way into the Indian-subcontinent where

Top: View of Shahjahanabad from Jami Masjid (Friday Mosque), India Left: Streetscape in Shahjahanabad, India (Photos by author)

new cities – Bijapur, Agra, Shahjahanabad, Fatehpur Sikri – generate new urban models simultaneously, Islamic and Indian. And the original Persian themes of the mausoleum and quadrangular Char Bagh garden gradually evolve into the magnificent Taj Mahal. Today, these hybrid landscapes are vivid reminders of the complexity of Asia’s urban history and questions on their conservation and future remain at the heart of this discussion. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 23


The third landscape is created by Colonisation. The earliest Western visitors to Asia are the Greeks, but Alexander the Great’s influence remains largely limited to Indian sculpture and art. From an urban standpoint, the Portuguese come first and transform the verdant tropical landscape of Goa (India) with hundreds of churches, chapels and wayside crosses and entire towns emulating their homeland. The Spanish do the same in Manila (Philippines) and the 24 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Dutch in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). And eventually, the British Raj in India becomes by far the largest colonial imprint in the world, proclaimed by both large public monuments and humble utilitarian structures like bridges, canals and cantonments. Decades after the colonisers depart, the places and structures they created get absorbed into emerging Asian cities through various means. It is not their original visions but their legacies that now come to the forefront.

Top: Colonial buildings along the Shanghai Bund, China (Photo by Brian McMorrow) Bottom Left: Diagram showing original Manila ‘Intramuros’ plan by the Spanish colonisers circa 1570 (left), and its subsequent partially realised expansion by American planner Daniel Burnham circa 1905 (right). (Diagrams by Christine Concepcion and Tiffany Dang) Bottom Right: British colonial buildings along Strand Road, Yangon, Burma (Photo by Brian McMorrow)

Top: Assembly Building, Chandigarh, designed by Le Corbusier (Photo by author) Bottom: Chung-King Mansions, Hong Kong (Photo by Mathew Field, Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Top: Streetscape in Asakusa district, Tokyo, Japan, circa 1920 Bottom: Streetscape in the Ginza, Tokyo, Japan, circa 1920 (Courtesy: Steve Sundberg)

The fourth type of landscape emerges from self-imposed Westernisation in several parts of Asia. For instance, in 1868, the Tokugawa Era finds its end in the Meiji Restoration and Japan opens its doors to Western influences. In 1872, the Ginza becomes Japan’s first designed ‘Western’ street, with British architect Thomas Waters replacing the fire-ravaged maze of traditional wooden structures with brick buildings and wide tree-lined boulevards. Eventually, Japan’s defeat in World War II gives rise to a new nation under the American Occupation, making it the first industrialised non-Western democracy in the world. Meanwhile, in 1911, China enters the Republican era and Beijing’s 1950’s development plans, following Moscow’s (Russia) example, divide the city into functional zones with exurban industries surrounding an administrative urban core. These landscapes affirm another side of the relationship that Asia shares with the West, one that unlike colonisation is less about cultural tension and more about being inspired by industrialisation and technology. The fifth landscape is formed through Asia’s embrace of Modern urbanism and architecture. Circa 1951, barely four years after the British depart from India, the Swiss-French modern architect Le Corbusier designs his largest project ever in Chandigarh, the new capital of Punjab (India), fuelled by Prime Minister Jawaharlal

Nehru’s mandate for a utopian city symbolising the values of a new India. Circa 1961, the construction of the 130-meter high Monumen Nasional in post-independent Jakarta (Indonesia) is inspired by the Eiffel Tower, even as the city’s massive southward expansion manifests an ambitious new ‘Nation-Building’ free from any colonial memory. In Japan, architect Kenzo Tange proposes a plan (un-built) for Tokyo’s expansion with nine infrastructural loops and high-rise mega-structures spanning Tokyo Bay. And the Chung King Mansions are completed at 36-44 Nathan Road in Hong Kong introducing a new high-rise housing type in Asia. Modern urbanism and architecture become the new symbols of cultural progress across Asia, a phenomenon that continues to dominate several parts of Asia today. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 25


Today these hybrid landscapes are vivid reminders of the complexity of Asia’s urban history

The sixth landscape is born as a simultaneous result of rapid modernisation across Asia. With industrialisation and the simultaneous influx of people from villages into the city, the squatter as a habitat begins to garner attention. Here one encounters landscapes such as Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, located in suburban Mumbai (India). Spread over 0.67 square miles, it provides cheap, though illegal dwelling alternatives for over 600,000 people, with rents as low as four US dollars per month, while also nurturing a thriving micro-economy with a total annual turnover of around 600 million US dollars. From informal markets in Lebanon to homelessness in Dhaka (Bangladesh), the amazing resilience and resourcefulness of these illegal, informal habitats within the franchised city remains one of the most perplexing issues in Asian urbanity today. The seventh landscape consists of Asia’s indigenous rural habitats that are struggling to find their place within its ongoing urbanisation. Here one finds the bang (aquatic villages) of Thailand with their infamous floating markets, the agrarian hamlets of Borneo, the fast disappearing ‘urban villages’ of Guangzhou (China), the forgotten qanats and karez (subterranean indigenous water channels) of Yazd (Iran) and Aleppo (Syria), and the tribal settlements of Inner Mongolia. The conversion of these places, patterns and peoples into tourist magnets, their merciless absorption into cosmopolitan landscapes or their complete destruction, all raise difficult questions on economic and cultural justice that demand to 26 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Top: Dharavi roofscape, Mumbai, India (Photo by YGLvoices, Source: Wikimedia Commons) Bottom: Informal barber stall, New Delhi, India (Photo by author)

Top Left: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Thailand (Photo by Dennis Jarvis, Source: Wikimedia Commons) Bottom Left: Rice Terraces and Village, Bali (Photo by Shnobby, Source: Wikimedia Commons)

be understood and answered. The eighth landscape emerges from the lukewarm reception to Modern urbanism and architecture in Asia, particularly in less developed nations. In response, planners and architects attempt to reflect a sense of history and regionalism in both urbanism and architecture. For example, in Baghdad (Iraq) from 1979-1983, second and third generation European and American Modern architects gather to participate in an ambitious urban redevelopment fuelled by a booming oil economy. It includes major inner city revitalisations such as the Khurafa Street Development, with regulations encouraging densification with the visual uniformity of arabesque streetscapes. On a smaller scale, the architectural projects of Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, from hotels to houses, with traditional sloping tiled roofs, courtyards and local materials, represent a direct critique of Top Right: View of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and surrounding construction, circa 2008, Abu Dhabi, UAE Bottom Right: Interior of Madinat Jumeirah Mall, made to look like a traditional souk (market). (Photos by author)

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 27

THE JOY OF CITIES>Urban Asia abstract Modern architecture. Such efforts reveal a renewed interest in local history and preservation, and in this sense, Asia provides a new intellectual canvas to rethink the limitations of Modernism beyond the West. The ninth landscape, made up of Asia’s ‘sudden’ mega-cities, stands out for its sheer pace of development. Here one finds the streetscapes of Shinjuku and Akihabara (both in Tokyo, Japan) whose electric signage makes Las Vegas (USA) and Times Square (New York, USA) look tame. One sees the dramatic evolution of Asia’s most iconic vertical metropolis, Hong Kong, with uniquely slender ‘pencil skyscrapers’ and multi-use highrises linked by high-speed public transportation, elevated walkways and sophisticated subterranean worlds. Meanwhile, Dubai in four decades goes from a city of 58,000 to 1.5 million natives, with an additional 5.1 million annual visitors. Its southward expansion, before the collapse of the global economy, remains one of the most

28 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

ambitious and dramatic developments in recent urban history. It includes plans for the largest infrastructural project in the world – the 75 km long Arabian Canal Development, as well as the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, even as the city as a whole becomes a vast collage of

Top Left: Shinjuku nightscape, Tokyo, Japan Top Right: View of Pudong high-rises, Shanghai, China Bottom: Aerial view of Palm Islands in Dubai (Photos by Brian McMorrow)

Decades after the colonisers depart, the places and structures they created get absorbed into emerging Asian cities

The electric signage of Shinjuku and Akihabara makes Las Vegas and Times Square look tame

isolated mega-projects. From Tokyo (Japan) in the ’70s to Shenzhen (China) in the ’90s, this phenomenon of ‘instant’ urbanisation remains one of the most magical and scary characteristics of Asian urbanism. The tenth landscape comprises Asia’s emerging urban models dominated by ideas of sustainability, pedestrian dominance, increment planning and an attempt to stop rampant sprawl. Here, one finds Putrajaya, Malaysia’s 11,300-acre built-fromscratch ‘environment-friendly’ administrative capital. The interconnected street grids and figural open spaces of the American anti-sprawl movement, New Urbanism, are seen in new towns such as Lavasa in India and Dos Rios in the Philippines. Among the nine new towns being built outside Shanghai (China), Thames Town, replicates the classic English market town with cobbled streets, Victorian terraces and corner shops, a church, a pub and a fish and chips shop. And the 700-hectare new city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi is designed to supposedly achieve Carbon Neutrality. While the long-term significance of these examples remains to be seen, they do represent refreshing counterpoints to Asia’s recent development trends. They bear the potential to either chart new futures or conversely vanish into oblivion. These ten landscapes suggest that reading Asia as a set of distinct regions or geographies is neither necessarily complete nor correct. The fundamental forces shaping Asian cities are neither isolated nor regionally unique. As seen in the discussion above, the Indian sub-continent is historically connected with the cultures of the Persian and Gulf regions. China’s or Dubai’s rapid urbanisation is an echo of Japan’s rapid growth in the ’70s and Hong Kong’s in the ’80s. Across

Top: Town Center, Lavasa, India (Photo by Mayur239, Source: Wikimedia Commons) Bottom: Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Photo by Gryffindor, Source: Wikimedia Commons)

the continent, informal urbanisms are diffused with metropolitan landscapes and colonial towns are gradually taking on new identities. And Asia’s oldest cities – among the oldest in the world – are themselves a rich mixture of cross-cultural histories far too complicated to unpack. How then do we engage with these diverse landscapes? We do so by recognising that at the end of the day, practicing urbanism in Asian cities is a multifaceted, open-ended and plural art that has to embrace all the diverse themes, concerns, as well as overlaps that exist in different places at different times. Even as we embrace Asia’s globalising aspirations, we must not forget the landscapes of poverty that are shaping Asian cities every day. And even as we lament the loss of Asia’s heritage, we cannot afford to undermine its emerging ambitions. Asian cities – some far older than the oldest Western ones – are far more complex and contradictory than their Western counterparts. They are treading their own path to their future. They must be understood and evaluated on their own terms. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 29

THE JOY OF CITIES>Srirangam, Tamil Nadu

Srirangam Temple


Temple Town Karna Sengupta shows us how a religious place has almost seamlessly fused the spiritual with the modern


ost of the population of India lives in densely populated urban environments. The way in which urban areas are organised has a bearing on much more than our physical movement and functional need for services, facilities and a secure habitat. Urban territories both exhibit and express cultural differences and identity. This constitutes a certain sense of place, in the region or country and its socio-cultural distinctiveness. It also manifests itself in a certain Urban Identity, the manner in which social, cultural and environmental values and their historicity reveal themselves and create a cognitive horizon for people’s everyday lives in that specific city. In the Indian context, it is in this respect that the cultural reuse and reinterpretation of urban precincts become important. It has produced certain urban areas, which over time have adapted to the cultural changes and still retained their sense of place. Srirangam in Tamil Nadu, one of the few mythical temple towns, is an apt example. Over the centuries, Srirangam has adapted to cultural changes, displaying those tangible manifestations in the use and reuse of their urban space.

The Original Temple TOwn Srirangam (formerly Vellithirumutha Gramam) and Thiruvarangam in Tamil is an island and a part of the city of Tiruchirapalli in South India. It is bounded by the Kaveri River (also known as Cauvery River) on one side and the Kaveri distributary Kollidam (Coleroon) on the other. Srirangam is the foremost of the eight selfmanifested shrines (Swayam Vyakta Kshetras) of Lord Vishnu. It is also considered the first, foremost and the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divyadesams). It can be represented as a temple town or a town in a temple because of its sacred city planning principles of fabric development in concentric enclosures with the main temple and shrine in the centre. This temple is also known as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam, Bhogamandabam. In Vaishnava parlance, the term ‘Koil’ (or ‘King’s House’ is the Tamil word for a distinct style of Hindu temple with Dravidian architecture) signifies only this temple. Enormous in size, the temple complex is 156 acres (0.63 km2) in extent. It has seven


Urban territories both exhibit and express cultural differences and identity

Srirangam city

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 31

CULTURE THE JOY OF CORNER>Amstredam CITIES>Srirangam, Tamil city Nadu

Left: Tajul Masjid middle: Benazir Palace Bottom: Bharat Bhawan

prakaras or enclosures. These enclosures are formed by thick and huge rampart walls, which run round the sanctum. Thus the Srirangam temple complex is composed of seven concentric walled sections and 21 towers called Gopurams. The main Gopuram, the Rajagopuram, is 236 feet (72 m) tall, the tallest in Asia. Originally, the seven concentric walls of the temple physically divided the city into seven sections termed prakarams (outer courtyard) or mathil suvar with a total length of 32,592 feet or over six miles. The temple originally consisted of 21 gopurams (towers), 39 pavilions, 50 shrines, an Ayiram kaal mandapam (a hall of 1000 pillars) and housed several small water bodies. The fabric of the main temple complex in the enclosures exhibited different networks and residential patterns of people related to the temple complex. The first three enclosures consisted of the sacred temple complex and its allied functions. Even today these enclosures act as a sanctified whole. The fourth enclosure belonged to the Brahmins, the fifth to the tradesmen and the last two to the people working as support staff in the temple. There were residential areas and spaces for the rich merchants and the monarchy. With this urban structuring the temple town started functioning. Historically, Hindu practices of rituals and festivities, sacred journeys, deities and their symmetrical links came to form a sacred spatial system, that cosmos was completely manifested in Srirangam with the evolution of the urban structure around the main temple. 32 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Today’s srirangam The bus drives by a bridge over the broad expanse of the River Cauvery, which connects the island of Srirangam with Tiruchirapalli. Little floating islands of grass and weeds dot the calm surface waters. On the other bank is a sea of coconut palms. Beyond this green canopy, the Rajagopuram of the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangam stands towering over everything else in the landscape. The bus winds around the streets and seems to be getting away from the temple. Soon you walk a few paces, turn a street corner and are face to face with the Rajagopuram. At 72 meters on 13 levels, this is the tallest gopuram in the world. It was completed in 1987, historically remaining one of the unfinished gopurams. Srirangam is almost the perfect temple town even today. The entire town is built around the temple. Streets on all four sides surround it and they make many concentric squares. Passing from the outer to the inner streets, under little colourful gopurams, is like a journey to the centre of heaven, which the temple depicts. Street scenes complete this picture of a temple town – gold-bordered sarees and dhotis hang at the feet of dwarapalakas, coiled garlands of jasmine lend their fragrance to the air, colourful chalks for drawing kolams sit in small wooden boxes, banana leaves decorate mandapas (large tents) on the way to the temple, women return from the temple with prasadams (holy food) in their hand, barechested priests in dhotis and sacred threads weave noiselessly through the streets on their scooters.

Left: Hall of thousand pillars Right: The temple complex

it is really difficult to tell where the temple ends and the town begins. Both are one and the same

Top: Bhopal section Bottom: Geomorphological map of Bhopal

This intangible culture of the city evolves out of the urban spaces that have adapted themselves over centuries. It is really difficult to tell where the temple ends and the town begins. Both are one and the same. From the gopurams, to the mandapas, corridors, sculptures and sanctums, there is a whole mythical spatial system, which will

transport you to the spiritual. It is the scale, proportion and sense of enclosure of these spaces that establish the power of the temple complex both in tangible and intangible terms. Today, you witness a hustling and bustling sacred centre at this place interspersed with people who have been the original residents. The enclosures are difficult to ascertain other than the one that separated the

Top Left: The deity Top Right: People in the temple Bottom: Old houses

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 33

CULTURE THE JOY OF CORNER>Amstredam CITIES>Srirangam, Tamil city Nadu temple from the town. The automobile has had its impact; you will find autos, rickshaws and cycles dotting the city. Small shops selling flowers, food and utilities like mobile recharge coupons have replaced the Brahmin and merchant residences. Still, the aura of the mythical city is prevalent in its lofty gopurams, the axis of its networks and the cosmic spatial system that’s in place even today. Use and ReUse – Then and now The success of Srirangam as an urban space stems from the fact of adaptability and the ability to transform keeping its soul intact. The main temple complex has spatially remained intact as a place of the sacred. But the town around its enclosures has transformed. There has been adaptive reuse of all its spaces. Streets have given way to automobiles but the pedestrian is still the king and the aura of the mythic space remains. The open spaces have neighbourhood uses rather than religious but they seamlessly give way to sacred functions during religious festivals. The fabric and urban structure has remained the same but the residents, activity patterns and functions have changed and the spatial structure has almost completely been reused to such an extent that a visit to the place takes you back in time. It is an excellent amalgamation of the past and the present. The urban transformations have evolved over time and integrated into what you could call the eternal Srirangam. You will notice changes that easily blend into the town and subtle physical changes. PeoPle naRRaTives The Resident The resident in Srirangam identifies with the mythical enclosures and his traits are engrained with the features of that enclosure. The smell, the way he talks and his cultural identity have all evolved from it. For him, the temple visit is a part of the daily spiritual dialogue with the sacred. It’s an essential part of routine and no day is complete without the spiritual connect through these spiritual gateways or gopurams. The Pilgrim The pilgrim would arrive from faraway lands to visit the cosmos but slowly forms part of the fabric of the town as well. They lend colourful hues to the town with their shopping, chanting of prayers and reliving the city of the past. The Sage The sage frequents Srirangam and is the living manifestation of these sacred journeys. You will find them with different personalities and traits but with a common thread, which is their devotion 34 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

The Pilgrim

The Resident

to the cosmos and you’ll find them sitting in the complex meditating for hours. The Seller The seller is torn between the profane and the sacred. Though the things he sells are mundane, the aura of the place gives them a mythical touch. The Flower Seller The fragrance of the flowers contributes to the aroma of the entire town. The flowers give a vibrancy to the town and the smell almost dictates your movement system in the city on your way to the temple complex. The Rickshaw Puller His expressions seem extremely deep as if in meditation when he takes you around town. He acts as your eyes to the town; because of the way he takes to the streets you start to read and understand the spatial system of the town better. The Goat It seems like this mythical creature meets you almost everywhere you go in the town. But their seamless amalgamation means you’ll stop noticing them after a while. The Beggar You might notice him as the outcasts in our other temple towns today. But the ones here have a certain spiritual quality about them that will make you ponder if they too are part of that mythical space. The Reader You will find him in the vast expanse of the temple

The sage

The success of srirangam as an urban space stems from the fact of adaptability and the ability to transform keeping its soul intact

The Beggar

The Reader

complex completely engrossed in the text he is reading. Though he may be physically present, mentally he is travelling in his own thoughts. They are certainly noticed in the hall of a thousand pillars. All the people you meet represent the past and the present. The physical systems are in the present but they seem to be rooted in the past. It is this strange juxtaposition, which strikes you like the constant use and reuse of the space these people inhabit. It’s difficult to understand which of the practices and systems have transformed and which were the mythical systems that have remained unchanged and untouched. By concentrating on the processes of urban development and their relation to cultural activity in particular areas that allow them to evolve, it is hoped to create the preconditions for cultural regeneration rather than attempting to impose them. The fundamental starting point for future

The Flower Seller

The seller is torn between the profane and the sacred

practice in this case must be the recognition of the uniqueness of places as a basis for continuous use, reuse and transformation. A self-evolving process that taps into and facilitates the development of established, latent or undiscovered cultural dimensions of a place will go some way towards securing the foundations of a self-sustaining evolving strategy that Srirangam greatly exhibits. Thus, for a place to be successful and people centric, it’s the adaptability and flexibility of the urban structure with which it can absorb both tangible and intangible changes over time and the subsequent transformations, which defines the identity of the place. Srirangam exhibits this quality almost at an eccentric level like a transforming city with an old mythical soul. It is for us to learn how our new towns and urban structures can be designed to have the power of adaptability and flexibility in their transformation to be used and reused. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 35


Boston spirit Charming and innovative, it’s a place where excellence and community mean a lot. Amrita Kulkarni, who recently moved to the city, tells us about her new home that is steeped in history and is a springboard for future visionaries


was looking for a change from the student atmosphere around Harvard,” Aditya says adding, “so I decided to move across the river to Boston.” As I wondered how Harvard was not in Boston in the first place, he continued: “The whole of Cambridge empties out in December anyway; it becomes a ghost town.” Aditya Sawant, a good friend and urban design graduate of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, was introducing me to my new home: Boston. Having lived in the area for almost three years, he eased me into the geographic lingo. I learnt that when one talks about the city of Boston, they refer only to the area contained by an unchanging boundary, with a population of around just 640,000. That makes Boston a small city, about a 20th as populous as Mumbai.

CITY OF CITIES Studying at Harvard therefore, Aditya toiled, worked and studied in Cambridge, home to both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With a high student density and transient population, the buzz in the air at Cambridge is unrivalled. There are other urban and suburban towns surrounding Boston like Somerville, Brookline, Belmont, Watertown, Chelsea, Newton, Winthrop, each

Downtown Boston with Cambridge on the left, across the River Charles 36 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

all photographs: amrita kulkarni

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 37

Drawing: Bill rankin


Top: Educational institutions spread across the Greater Boston Area

Bottom Left: Fiery red of fall dominates the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge

Bottom Right: View from atop the tower at Mount Auburn Cemetery, with Cambridge in the foreground and Boston in the distance

demonstrating a unique fabric and way of life. Together they form the ‘Metro Boston’ area, while suburban areas extend further seamlessly, collectively called the ‘Greater Boston’ area, now home to 47,00,000 people. Boston is situated along the north-eastern Atlantic coast of the United States. Due to its geographical location, the area experiences four distinct seasons including unforgiving winters with much snow and hot summers of up to 38°C. Undeterred by the heat, Bostonians head outdoors in the summer to enjoy open air concerts and Independence Day celebrations on July 4. The famous fiery red fall foliage is a spectacular sight; a colourful goodbye that turns into the muted white of winter. Short days with afternoon darkness bring decorations in 38 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

When one talks about the city of Boston, they refer only to the area contained by an unchanging boundary

store windows, tree lighting and ice sculptures around the holiday season. One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston was founded in 1630 by colonists from England. It was here, in the most important city of the 13 British colonies that ideas for independence were nurtured and the American Revolution was born. It was the scene of several key events such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston. Since American Independence from Great Britain in 1776, the city continues to be an important port and a centre for education and culture. A COMPETITIVE SPIRIT The history of the region is incomplete

Re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party on a restored ship in Boston

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Memorial Church at Harvard University on a winter morning

without mention of Harvard University, which, established in 1636, calls itself the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not founded by John Harvard, who was its first benefactor two years after it was established as ‘New College’. While Harvard University has traditionally been known as a centre of excellence in the humanities and 40 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

social sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – founded almost 200 years later – represents the epitome of merit in technology and engineering sciences. It was founded in response to increased industrialisation of the country and its early emphasis on applied technology has led to close cooperation with industry. With two very different philosophies and

Contrary to popular opinion, it was not founded by John Harvard

of both institutes to merge in 1904-1905. The proposal nearly became a reality – in spite of enthusiastic opposition from MIT faculty and alumni – but fell through because of unworkable real estate sale under merger terms.

just one mile of ground between them, MIT and Harvard have long demonstrated opposing views. Walking through the Harvard campus, I sense the air hanging thick with tradition and grandeur, very unlike the business-like urgency on display around MIT corridors. “There is no rivalry between the two really, because Harvard’s easy-going climate is no match for the serious work happening at MIT,” says Dr. Saurabh Shahane, a post-doctoral scientist at MIT’s department of chemical engineering. While this competitive spirit adds colour to the character of the area, it is a lesser-known fact that multiple attempts were made by presidents

Top Left: Students prepare for the Head of The Charles Regatta, an annual rowing competition Top Right: Infinite Corridor, a 250m long central spine connecting the east and the west ends of MIT Bottom: Boston Public Library, the first publicly funded library in the United States

GEEK CHIC Being nerdy seems the norm – a rather cool one, too – around Cambridge, with its elitist student population and trendy cafés. Most fascinating is the Miracle of Science Bar, proclaiming to ‘stand strong as the leader in geek-chic’, with a hand-written menu in the form of a periodic table. The place is usually packed with diverse crowds making it “just the kind of place that Boston sorely needs!” as reported by the Boston Phoenix. Harvard and MIT might be the most famous educational institutes in the greater Boston area, but they certainly aren’t the only ones. Over 100 colleges and universities are located in the region, including Boston University, Tufts University, Wellesley College, Suffolk University and Northeastern University. Reputation differs with level of study: the popular undergraduate programme at Northeastern University, with its co-op five-year course that includes industry experience, gives graduates an edge in job markets. Graduate programmes, on the other hand, are more popular in universities with substantial funding and infrastructure for research. BUILT TO EDUCATE Observing Massachusetts Avenue – a major thoroughfare in the area – Richa Shukla, Urban Design Research Associate at Harvard, notes: “Mass. Avenue acts like the educational spine of the region, cutting through Arlington, Somerville, Cambridge and Boston – with several universities pegged on either side.” More than 250,000 students attend college in Boston and Cambridge alone – and this massive Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 41


student body brings college town charms to each host neighbourhood. The vast college crowd affects city residents in surprising ways: most rental lease agreements are dictated by the university calendar, even in areas not dominated by students. A September-to-September cycle means a mass migration on the first of the month descends on all modes of transport, resulting in a chaotic federal holiday. The Christmas holiday season presents a stark 42 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

contrast: a collective vacation exodus leaves behind a bare campus – the ghost town my friend Aditya was referring to. Across the frozen river in downtown Boston, life goes on as usual with festivities around the historic Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall and ice-skating at the Frog pond. Intellectual pursuits are regarded highly in the area, with Massachusetts having a greater percentage of college graduates than any other state in the country. The importance

Top: Boston Harbour skyline Bottom Left: Boston back bay skyline as seen from Cambridge with a frozen River Charles Bottom Right: Bostonians enjoy summer sunshine at Boston Harbour Islands, 30 mins from downtown

Top: The MIT sailing club offers lessons to its students, seen here at dusk

The pursuit of academic excellence indisputably informs a Bostonian’s life

of education proliferates down to the school level: the city’s school dropout rate is a low 4.5%, and has been dropping for the last eight years. A vast number of assistance programmes available in the public school system help and encourage students to finish high school. One such initiative at the Public Schools Reengagement Centre provides online classes with flexibility and extra time to graduate, along with educational opportunities even for dropouts. The city uses data to identify at-risk students as early as eighth grade, who are then offered enrolment into the centre, eventually supporting hundreds of students every year. INNOVATION CITY With such emphasis on learning and excellence, innovation is but a natural progression. Boston is consistently named one of the most innovative cities in the world. “No other city in America has been such a wellspring of innovation for so long,” author Scott Kirsner writes, reflecting on the history of technological innovation in the region. For over 300 years, the Boston area has been a cradle for breakthrough inventions: Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, the guidance system for Apollo II, first use

of general anaesthesia, radar equipment that helped win World War II, the microwave, the Polaroid camera, the first four nodes of the ARPANET that eventually spawned the internet as well as the first waves of the Biotech start-ups with Biogen. The gravitational pull of world-class universities lures students and professors alike and the generously funded environment promotes a start-up scene, thriving under cutting edge research and development. Several years ago, design and innovation firm IDEO shifted their local office from the suburb of Lexington to Cambridge in an attempt to better connect with the buzz. Through their ‘Start-up in Residence’ programme, IDEO collaborates with start-ups like Melon and PillPack to further develop offerings through a human-centred design approach. The Cambridge Innovation Center, epicentre of the start-up scene, supports entrepreneurial zest by offering young ventures with an innovation eco system through office space management. A staggering 1400 companies have passed through its doors since inception in 1999, with a venture capital of over $1.8 billion being raised. The healthcare and bio-tech industry Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 43

THE JOY OF CITIES>Boston have taken off alongside the tech scene and it is no coincidence that major corporations like Amgen, Merck, Novartis and Pfizer have invested in the region along with setting up R&D facilities. With the Mayor of Boston Thomas Menino’s ‘Innovation District’ initiative, 1000 acres of the South Boston waterfront is preparing itself as an innovation and entrepreneurship environment. While the Boston area does well at bringing technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace, it doesn’t seem able to spawn industry giants like Intel, Apple, Oracle or eBay as readily as the San Francisco Bay Area. “I think that the two are on equal footing in terms of creativeness and inventiveness,” says Howard Berke, who has managed companies on both coasts. He adds, “But in Boston invention is more revered; we appreciate academic pursuits here. In Silicon Valley, commercial success is what is prized.” This attitude, it seems, most considerably informs the culture of the region. Innovation is fostered also through work culture and office environments and a reimagining of the workplace seems to be underway. ‘Workbar’, a network of co-working office spaces that provide an interactive atmosphere and access to a diverse community is just one of many creative ways of igniting passion and productivity. With a high concentration of talent from local universities, connections between colleagues are made easily – but for those from beyond the state or country, shaking off the ‘outsider’ feeling may prove tricky. “Localities seem to come with certain baggage,” explains Elangovan Govindan, an urban designer who moved from New York City to Cambridge for a job, “with a predetermined value system associated with local schools and an existing network. Breaking in is tedious but essential.” AN OUTSIDER IN BOSTON For someone who lands abruptly in the area, applying for a job means direct competition with local graduates. Not only does hiring follow the university calendar – internships during summer and full time opportunities in early autumn – but it perhaps also favours the familiar. As an applicant with a degree from faraway London, I am measured up against graduates from Harvard and MIT. Once through the job search though, an inspiring group of peers awaits; being surrounded by self-driven high achievers is a luxury Bostonians can afford. Another prominent challenge upon moving to the United States is grasping the idea of a suburb: a wholly residential area with a seemingly endless matrix of houses and 44 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

no relief except convenience stores located every mile or so. Cars dominate the sprawling network, with scarce public transportation and vacant pavements. Concord, Belmont and Burlington have historically been the affluent suburban towns around Boston – with over 90% white population. Racial segregations were intentional back in the 1930s – coined ‘redlining’ – referring to a practice of marking a red line on a map to delineate the area where banks would not invest. Today, property prices in suburban neighbourhoods are largely driven by quality of the local public school, with students being enrolled largely from local environs. With an almost bidding-like culture for property sale, homebuyers pay well over the asking price in direct competition with other offers. The better the neighbourhood school, the higher the prices go up. Absolute value of the physical structure seems beside the point, with particleboard houses costing over $1 million. Prices in Somerville, the hipster student town just north of Cambridge, are affected by accessible grocery stores – in the densest town in the state, walkability is crucial for the young population. The pursuit of academic excellence indisputably informs a Bostonian’s life – whether at school, college or graduate level – in planning where to live, when to rent, what to study, who to work with and how to raise funds. In this noble city, it seems one cannot escape the culture of excellence – but then again, who would want to?

The sleepy suburb of Watertown offers a picturesque calm with geese and ducks

Urban Blueprint

“The unique attraction of Emscher Landscape Park lies in the contrast of the urban landscapes and the industrial monuments�

URBAN BLUEPRINT>Emscher Landscape Park, Germany

Transforming a Landscape Rosie Severens describes how the Ruhr Region in Germany, known for its mines and steel mills, has reused artefacts and industrial objects to create a unique new urban landscape


drive through the Ruhr Region confronts the onlooker with a constantly changing landscape of residential areas, industrial complexes and landscape parks. There’s a constant change in the urban landscape but the traveller perceives no difference as he moves from one city to the next. Here, landscapes and cities change seamlessly. This is Emscher Landscape Park. It isn’t a traditional landscaped park like Versailles in France or Regent’s Park in England. Metropolis Ruhr consists of 53 cities/ municipalities, 20 of them are part of the Emscher Landscape Park. Altogether, Metropolis Ruhr has 5.2 million inhabitants, who for decades depended on industrial complexes for their economy and who have now joined hands to create, in its post-industrial era, a conurbation where cities are connected to one another by a network of green, ecological infrastructures and cycling and pedestrian routes. The unique attraction of Emscher Landscape Park lies in the contrast of the urban landscapes and the industrial monuments. Emscher Landscape Park is a green open space network that consists of a lot of former industrial sites which have been transformed into park areas (part of 21% green spaces of different types). Also, part of Emscher Landscape Park are: 37% agricultural space and 16% woodland. The contaminated riverbeds which form 3% of the total have been transformed into ecological landscape parks. New residential areas have been built on old industrial sites. And modern art has been used regularly to give the viewer a new perspective on the industrial heritage. But, without a doubt, the most spectacular are the totally transformed sites of the old ironworks in Duisburg-North Landscape Park and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Zollverein in Essen. HISTORY OF THE REGION Before the heavy industrialisation, three rivers, namely the Ruhr, the Lippe and the Emscher, dominated the landscape of several cities in this region. However, the character of the region changed dramatically following the intensive 46 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

photo credits: © jochen tack / stiftung Zollverein. © matthias duschner / stiftung Zollverein

The unique attraction of Emscher Landscape Park lies in the contrast of the urban landscapes and the industrial monuments

Top: The presence of industrial heritage in urban settings results in remarkable atmosphere Bottom Left: Industrial heritage now in use as Ruhr Museum Bottom Right: The reuse of industrial monuments as backdrop for cultural events

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 47

map: RegionalveRband RuhR (RvR)

CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Emscher CORNER>Amstredam Landscape city Park, Germany










Brandenburg Sachsen-Anhalt


NordrheinWestfalen Hessen






Saarland Bayern




industrialisation in the 19th and 20th centuries. As the process of industrialisation progressed, the River Emscher carries mainly domestic wastewater of 2.2 million inhabitants living within the river’s drainage area of and wastewater from industrial areas. For more information about the ecological rebuilding of the River Emscher and the new sewer to accompany it please visit: http://www.abwasserkanal-emscher. de/de/abwasserkanal-emscher.html. By the end of the 20th century, the River Emscher had lost its ecological and landscape function and had turned into a polluted canal 85 kms long! There are 400 km of sewers to be built within the whole drainage area of River Emscher and its connected rivulets, 200 km of these have already been built. Through the first half of the 20th century, this entire region saw an unprecedented growth in the mining industry. This process of industrialisation led to a steady growth of population as many workers from outside Germany were recruited to work in the new industrial complexes. Cities grew in size and large residential areas were built to house the new workers. The urban landscape of the region was determined by the dominance of industries and the competition between several cities. By the end of the 1960s, after nearly 150 years of this process, there was a total absence of any structure in the urban landscape. The 1960s saw the mining industry at the pinnacle of its growth. Thereafter, one by one the mines started closing their complexes, leaving behind desolate industrial complexes in an unstructured urban context. 48 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

It was around this time that a great need was felt by many to prepare a coherent spatial vision for the whole conglomeration of 53 cities in the region. Till then the cities had only competed with one another and prepared their own spatial plans. However, at the start of the 20th century, the first director of the Ruhr Regional Association (Regionalverband Ruhr today), Robert Schmidt, had prepared a vision for the entire region, which till the 1960s had gone unnoticed. It was this vision of Robert Schmidt that formed the basis for a new regional plan in the period after the 1960s. INTERNATIONALE BAUAUSSTELLUNG (IBA) With the decline of the mining industry, the cities in the region were on the lookout for fresh perspectives. The big impetus for this came with the allocation of the IBA, which took place from 1989 till 1999. The IBA was seen not only as a temporary building exhibition but also as a chance by the province of Nordrhein-Westfalen to create projects for the future of the area. The goal of the IBA was to create new ideas and plans that would give an impetus to urban, social, cultural and ecological changes in order to generate economic changes. Within its period of 10 years, nearly 120 projects were developed and implemented in the following fields: - Ecological reconstruction of River Emscher and other landscape interventions - Reuse of industrial monuments - Urban developments - Social initiatives leading to greater employment opportunities

The structure of landscape and rivers in Emscher Landscape Park (left), and the location of Emscher Landscape Park in Germany (right)

River Emscher had lost its ecological and landscape function and had in fact become a polluted canal 85 kms long

EmschErgEnossEnschaft. © thomas WillEmsEn / stiftung ZollvErEin. © JochEn tack / stiftung ZollvErEin

This initiative of the province of NordrheinWestfalen was supported by the national government of Germany by initiating the creation of a series of universities, which gave the region extra economic impulse. A total amount € 2.5 billion was invested in the IBA projects, of which € 1.5 billion was in the form of governmental funding. Together with this funding, the IBA was largely responsible for the transformation and regeneration of the entire region. THE THEMES OF TRANSFORMATION The goal for the transformation of Emscher landscape Park was to create a sustainable environment and urban landscape in an area of nearly 457 km2. The segregated landscape areas were linked to form an interconnected network of landscapes. The projects for transformation and reuse can be categorised under the following four themes: A. Repair, restructuring and re-landscaping of the River Emscher B. Accentuation of the cultural aspects of the industrial landscape of the mines C. Reuse of the coal tipping sites D. Application of art to give a new perspective to the industrial landscape

A. Repair, Restructuring And Landscaping Of River Emscher For many decades, during the heyday of the industrial economy in the Ruhr area, the Emscher River was seen as an open sewer for domestic and industrial wastewater. An important initiative of the IBA was to change the channelised drain, which the river had become, and give it back its natural meandering qualities. The River Emscher nowadays runs mostly between dykes because of the subsidences caused by mining. Therefore, the natural meanders can only be reconstructed in some special sections of the river, where there is room enough to relocate the dykes to create a natural flooding space. In other sections, where settlements are closer to the river banks, the river bed will be more narrow but will get a more natural shape as well and the concrete bedding will be taken out. The opportunity was also used to enthuse ecological qualities in the renewed river landscape and also to create recreational areas for urban dwellers. In a series of steps, a new river valley has been created, which harmoniously combines landscape design and art with artefacts of the old industrial landscape. The final result is a series of gardens

Remnants of industrial artefacts in the landscape are witness to the rich industrial history of the Ruhr

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 49

CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Emscher CORNER>Amstredam Landscape city Park, Germany

50 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Facing Page: Top: The tops of the coaltips have inspired artists to create unconventional sculptural objects Bottom Left: An imposing entrance to the Ruhr Top Right: Interesting housing developments have taken place on some of the former industrial sites, such as this one in Gelsenkirchen. Bottom Right: New landscape strategies encompass remnants of industrial heritage

The work is far from complete and there are still lessons to be learnt

and parks, pedestrian and cycle paths on old industrial tracks. There are no industrial waste hills now, only mining tips, where the wall rock hauled up together with the coal has been piled up. The Emscher Landscape Park is not finished yet. Neither is the new Emscher valley. The full recreation of the landscape will only be possible after the reconstruction of River Emscher is over. It is expected to be completed in 2027. B. Accentuation Of The Cultural Aspects Of The Industrial Landscape In nearly two centuries, the mining industry had a great impact on the landscape of the Ruhr region. But one cannot deny that the industrial landscape gave the Ruhr a unique new identity. The former industrial complexes with their inimitable architectural artefacts such as the mining towers, steel mills, coke ovens and gas tanks are a reminder of a special period in the economic resurgence of this region. Many of these earlier industrial complexes have been restored and are now in reuse as exhibition spaces, film halls or restaurants. With government funding, some spaces are being used as start-up centres for new initiatives from the creative industries. C. Reuse Of The Coal-Tipping Sites The many mining tips (formed from the waste of the mining industry) have been relandscaped and have become popular recreation destinations. With their heights of up to 200 meters, they are favoured objects for people to climb since they afford spectacular views from the top. There are no skiing activities on the mining tips, except for one in Bottrop, where there is a skiing hall/indoor skiing venue. Additionally, the tops of these mining tips are a favoured location for the placement of largescale art and sculptures.

D. Application Of Art To Give A New Perspective On The Industrial Landscape Besides using large-scale art objects at strategic locations, such as on top of the mining tips, art and the creative industry is being stimulated to make Emscher Landscape Park a cultural destination. The total area of Emscher Landscape Park now has nearly 200 museums both large and small. Considering the fact that there are many very modern sites and institutions within the region, I guess it is not suitable to talk of the region as a living museum. The industrial heritage of the Ruhr is surely a trademark but also only one facet of a very lively Metropolis Ruhr. CONCLUSION The efforts to transform the region of Emscher Park, once a polluted industrial region, have resulted in a renewal of the area in an unprecedented way, with new infrastructure, new landscape and new jobs for its people and a unique new tourism sector. But all this has been possible only because of massive provincial and national government funding and also because the 53 local authorities for the entire Metropolis Ruhr and 20 of them for Emscher Landscape Park were willing to work to cooperatively to aim for a resurgence of the region. The work is far from complete and there are still lessons to be learnt. The amounts of government funding have been enormous and one wonders if the scope of the cultural functions aimed for are not too large for a region with 5.2 million inhabitants. The cost of maintenance of this large cultural landscape will also weigh heavily in the coming decades. While the public funding of the first stage of transformation has created a good foundation for the future, it will be the funding from the private sector that will actually catapult the region into the next sustainable phase of reuse and transformation. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 51

photo credits: rVr s.Auer. shyAm khAndekAr. wikipediA commons. © thomAs willemsen / stiftung ZollVerein. © mAtthiAs duschner / stiftung ZollVerein

Top: The backdrop of old industrial heritage provides a spectacular context for practising different sports activities

URBAN BLUEPRINT>Tijara, Rajasthan

Tijara iniTiaTive

reinterpreting History Shyam Khandekar shows how the Neemrana Group has succeeded in turning a series of old ruins into a magnificent ensemble of buildings amidst a glorious landscape

THE BACKGROUND When the royal family of Tijara in Rajasthan, India, decided to build a fort on a hill commanding the surrounding plains in the first part of the 19th century, little did they imagine the way history would take its course. In less than 15 years after initiating the effort, the construction had to be abandoned because Maharaja Balwant Singh, the initiator of the fort, was murdered. When the process of construction was stopped, the contours of an ensemble of three major buildings were clearly visible: the Mardana Mahal (at the highest point in the south) flanked on the east by the Hawa Mahal and on the west by the Rani Mahal. For nearly two centuries this remained a derelict site, its imposing but unused structures commanding the plains, visited by the occasional 52 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

cowherd and thousands of bats! Then, after a complicated and lengthy process, early in the 21st century, the Government of Rajasthan, which had in the meantime come to own the property, finally put Tijara to tender to give the derelict ensemble a new function. The combination of Aman Nath and Francis Wacziarg of the Neemrana Group was awarded the property in 2003, but because of many bureaucratic procedures, the actual work started only in 2009. However, since then, a stupendous effort has been underway to give history a new interpretation. To convert this derelict property on a hilltop, without even an access road, into a unique hotel cum conference centre, where hundreds will be able to enjoy this majestic setting.

The Government of Rajasthan‌ finally put Tijara to tender to give the derelict ensemble a new function

drawings: shyam KhandeKar








THE OBJECTIVE OF ADAPTIVE REUSE The design approach taken by the Neemrana team aimed to attain the following objectives: A. To restore and adapt the individual buildings in spirit with their original design and make them suitable for adaptive reuse. B. To add a series of new built functions such as large restaurants, conference facilities, an auditorium, swimming pool and yoga centre; functions which are necessary for the adaptive reuse of this complex in modern times but amenities which by their very scale and size could in no way be accommodated in any of the three historic structures (i.e. the Mardana Mahal, the Hawa Mahal or the Rani Mahal). Included in

Top: A panoramic view of the disjointed complex as it was before the Neemrana Group started work in 2009 Bottom Left: Schematic drawings showing how new structures have been added and landscape deployed to fuse into one complex the three independent buildings of Mardana Mahal, Rani Mahal and Hawa Mahal Bottom Right: Impression of the Mardana Mahal

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 53

CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Tijara, CORNER>Amstredam Rajasthan city this list were also large-scale utilities like the carparking facilities and engineering utilities such as water-tanks and pump rooms. C. To link the three buildings through a landscape that would allow them to function not only as independent buildings but also as part of a unique complex with an attractive landscape, which would promote its use as an outdoor park with a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape. Work under construction on Rani Mahal

A panoramic view of the complex with its stepped terraces binding together the separate elements

New structures have been erected which functionally link the buildings and complete the new complex

DESIGN APPROACH The design approach adapted by the Neemrana team led by Aman Nath has been unique in its boldness and sensitive in its details. The basic decision was to use the hilly nature of the terrain to locate all the large-scale functions at such depths that they would not clutter the historic composition of the three historic buildings above the ground.

So in each of the three spaces between the three historic buildings, new structures have been erected which functionally link the buildings and complete the new complex. Firstly, in the southeast, between the Mardana Mahal and the Hawa Mahal, an entrance complex has been created with a composition of walls and gates with a clever juxtaposition of old and new forming an attractive point of entry to the complex.

CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Tijara, CORNER>Amstredam Rajasthan city

Impression of the Rani Mahal

Secondly, in the southwest, between the Mardana Mahal and the Rani Mahal, in a natural depression that existed there, a structure of three storeys has been created to house a complex of functions including a large swimming pool, a yoga and wellness centre and under it all a reservoir for water, which will run-off the landscape and can be reused. And thirdly, in the north, in the space between the Rani Mahal and the Hawa Mahal, in the natural depression which existed there, a four-storeyed structure is being created to house a series of restaurants and their kitchens, 56 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

The three historic buildings have been creatively restored and eclectically renewed with an eye for detail

an auditorium and conference rooms and the promise of an amphitheatre with a backdrop, which will itself be worth a show. All these new structures have been designed to afford spectacular views of the plains below and yet so located that the new layer of terraced landscape that is draped over them, protects them from merciless sunrays and the heat of summer. The new layer of landscape is conceived as a series of terraces, starting in the south at the highest point from the boundaries of the Mardana Mahal and stepping down elegantly towards the Hawa Mahal and Rani Mahal and ending

drawings: shyam KhandeKar

Bottom: Different views of the complex

PhotograPhS: NeemraNa DeSigN StuDio

Top Left: Anjolie Mahal Top Right: Nayanaa Mahal Bottom: Fresco in Hawa Mahal by Anjolie Menon

dramatically at the proposed new amphitheatre in the north. Each terrace is large enough to rest, walk around or just loiter about in and, together with other terraces, forms a landscape that will give a unique identity to the entire complex. With this creative use of the landscape, the historic trio of Mardana Mahal, Hawa Mahal and Rani Mahal are fused into a majestic complex, while smaller design features planted in the landscape (such as a series of camels crafted surrealistically in concrete) signal the entrance to one of the larger built complexes, which lies hidden under the landscape. Pergola and arcade elements, sculptures and a cenotaph dedicated to Francis Wacziarg, are finally strategically placed as icing on a cake to give visual delight to the observer and create a visual depth of field when one views the surrounding landscape. Finally, the three historic buildings have been creatively restored and eclectically renewed with an eye for detail. Two of them, namely the Mardana Mahal and the Rani Mahal, both designed around central courts, will house the guests who decide to stay overnight at this new complex. In the re-design of the rooms at Rani Mahal,

an entirely new dimension is being added to the historic rooms. To honour some of the great names in Indian art, each of the 21 rooms in the Rani Mahal is named after a leading lady painter in Indian art including Anjolie Menon, Arpita Singh, Nayanaa Kanodia, Nilima Sheikh and Anju Dodiya. Each of these aesthetes has been involved with the design and interiors of the rooms named after them. LESSONS FROM TIJARA What the adventure of Aman Nath’s team at Tijara teaches us is how it’s not the relentless conservation of singular, old buildings but the creative use and adaptive reuse of a complex of historic buildings in their larger context that gives the best results. And we see that it’s not the primacy of the buildings, but the unity of the buildings in their landscape that is the ultimate goal. Without doubt, the experience of adaptive reuse at Tijara shows how, while the process can be very challenging, the results are more rewarding than building a complex of totally new buildings. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 57

URBAN BLUEPRINT>Cape Town, South Africa

Rethinking Urban Density

New Towns or Old Towns? Michelle Provoost of the International New Town Institute looks at how densification can be used to renew Old Towns instead of increasing a city’s footprint by creating a New Town

58 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

New Towns may lead to increasing segregation between the (upper) middle classes in the New Town and the migrants in the old city, physical deterioration and reduction of the existing city’s financial foundation. Cape Town, South Africa, is one of many cities that have grown over the course of the 20th century according to the principle of repeatedly adding separate neighbourhoods and New Towns on greenfield sites. The city has a huge footprint, consisting of a series of introverted white, coloured and black neighbourhoods, separated by inaccessible and unusable zones. The problems created by this urban sprawl are endless: spatial, economic, ecological and social. People waste hours on their daily commute, jobs are inaccessibly remote for the poorest, air pollution from traffic

Often, it’s the growing middle class who flee the clamour and insecurity of the existing cities and prefer the comfort and facilities of the New Town

Master plan for the New Town Wescape, near Cape Town



ow that urbanisation is spreading quickly across the world, a question is becoming increasingly important to answer: How do we accommodate so many people? For the urbanisation caused by migration from rural areas, there will be large numbers of cheap housing needed for the lowest income groups. But how do you build cheap housing (without government-sponsored social housing) in a market economy? For obvious reasons, this simply isn’t happening at the moment. What are being built are new cities — hundreds of them: in China, Korea, India and increasingly in Africa. Who are these new cities intended for, if not for incoming migrants? Often, it’s the growing middle class who flee the clamour and insecurity of the existing cities and prefer the comfort and facilities of the New Town: electricity, water and other public services, better quality housing and public space, more security and police, better schools and shops. Lavasa near Pune is a good example as are the New Towns surrounding Shanghai or Konza City just south of Nairobi. Building on a greenfield site outside the metropolis has an important advantage: all the red tape and inertia associated with a brownfield site is avoided. The organisation is easier and the costs are lower. Therefore, the less reliable and slower the government, the more attractive it is to build a New Town. In this sense, the latest wave of New Towns is understandable. However, there are also disadvantages, especially for the existing city.

source: Bruce sutHerlanD Design: Density synDicate (a.o. Jakupa, DHk, H+n+s, Witteveen+Bos, city of cape toWn)

Present situation of the area for Two Rivers Urban Park Plus+, Cape Town

Spatial design for Two Rivers Urban Park Plus+

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 59

CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Cape CORNER>Amstredam Town, city South Africa

Design: Density synDicate (a.o. Überbau, nL architects, city of cape town)

Left: Present situation around Maitland Station, Cape Town (Source: Überbau) Bottom: Densification of the area surrounding Maitland Station

is abominable and segregation leads to constant unrest. Even though it has been 20 years since apartheid was officially lifted, Cape Town is still the symbolic capital city of segregation; apartheid is set in stone and poured in concrete. The question in Cape Town today is: How can city planning contribute to a sea change in the reality that it first helped to create? How can the infinite sprawl of the segregated city be unified and opened up? Facing the prospect of significant population growth, with current housing shortages already 60 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

between 200,000 and 400,000 homes, Cape Town can no longer afford its usual expansion policies. Although plans for a New Town called Wescape were recently approved, paving the way for private development that will build a city of 500,000 people in the agricultural region north of Cape Town, the well-trodden path of the tabula rasa urban sprawl is apparently hard to abandon. Recently, the city has put the concept of ‘density’ on the spatial planning agenda. This is not solely limited to the customary definition of increasing the floor-area ratio. Cape Town

Cape Town can no longer afford its usual expansion policies

Design: Density synDicate (a.o. VPUU, DoePel strijkers, lcc, john sPiroPoUlos, city of caPe town)

a New Town and further increasing the city’s footprint. Underused stretches alongside highways can be turned into housing areas and public parks, connecting the surrounding neighbourhoods. Barren terrain next to train stations can be built up to house people and offices. Informal settlements can be re-blocked to increase the size and quality of the houses. The advantages of a higher density seem obvious. However, the ‘easy’ tradition of greenfield extensions is solidly grounded in intricate regulatory frameworks that make mixeduse development and higher densities more difficult. The same challenge exists in other metropolises in India, other parts of Asia and Brazil. In Cape Town, it is becoming apparent that a different relationship will have to be achieved between citizens and the government, in which the government does not organise everything from the top down but instead seeks to achieve maximum engagement and

Top: Present situation in Lotus Park, Cape Town (Source: Michelle Provoost) Right: Strategy for upgrading, reblocking and densifying Lotus Park

The designs show a wide range of possibilities that can be achieved by densifying the existing city

primarily expects to achieve social and societal effects from increased density: a mixture of income and ethnic groups, better integration and use of infrastructure, better connections between neighbourhoods as well as literal and figurative bridging of distances. Recently, the results of the Density Syndicate*, a South African-Dutch think tank, were presented in Cape Town. The designs show a wide range of possibilities that can be achieved by densifying the existing city and making it more compact instead of building

self-reliance among its citizens. To improve the quality of life in future cities in the Global South, the strategy of increasing density in the existing cities is more difficult but will ultimately prove a more rewarding strategy than only building New Towns. *The Density Syndicate is an initiative of the African Centre for Cities, the International New Town Institute and the City of Cape Town. See: Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 61

URBAN BLUEPRINT>Nirlon Knowledge Park, Mumbai

NirLoN KNowLedge ParK

Campus with a green Heart The story of how a defunct industrial site has been reused to create idyllic work surroundings for nearly 25,000 IT workers, as told by the campus designers Shyam Khandekar and Hélène Leriche


s Indian cities grow at a frantic pace to accommodate new citizens, most cities are expanding horizontally and rural areas at their edges are being eaten up by newer urban expansions. Regeneration, Renewal and Redevelopment are words too often forgotten in the race for urbanisation in India. Yet, cities such as Mumbai, which had a rich tradition of being manufacturing centres, have in the older and central parts, manufacturing sites such as former mill-lands that are now defunct and ripe for reuse. BACKGROUND, HISTORY AND A SENSITIVE CLIENT The redevelopment of the old industrial land of Nirlon on a site of nearly 9.5 hectares is the story of how a sustainable working place can be created for thousands by reusing old industrial sites. Established in the 1950s, the site was originally developed for the manufacture of nylon yarn, a production process that ran for a period of nearly 40 years. When the site finally lost its function as a manufacturing location, over several years, a thoughtful process of regeneration and reuse was put in place to give it its new function as the hub of IT related work. When work was started on creating a new vision for the campus, the site still had a series of buildings built in the 1950s and 1960s, most of which had lost their industrial function and were in a severe state of disrepair. Yet some of the older buildings had been adapted and rented out to different businesses. In the disorganised site that then existed, two things stood out which would help give it its renewed identity. Firstly, all over the site were several hundred trees spread out between the industrial buildings. Right at the outset it was clear that the vision must make the most of their existence. Secondly, between the disorganised industrial wastes were gems of industrial 62 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Regeneration, Renewal and Redevelopment are words too often forgotten in the race for urbanisation in India

The gentle sweeping curve where landscape and buildings merge

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URBAN BLUEPRINT>Nirlon Knowledge Park, Mumbai

Drawings showing the primacy of the open space and the landscape in defining the character of the campus

64 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

drawings: shyam KhandeKar

artefacts, which were begging to be reused. Their retention and reuse would, it was decided by us, add historic character and continuity to the rich Nirlon story. In discussions with the client it was heartening to note that they were sensitive to the changing environment and were willing to go in for redevelopment, which would not only respond to the demands of the commercial market but also recognise and build upon Nirlon’s rich industrial heritage. DEFINING THE DESIGN CONCEPT The first step was to define a strong design concept that would create a sense of place and an identity unique to this industrial site. The idea was to agree to the general thrust of design, instead of trying to get into all sorts of details. But essential to the design approach was that the vision document would establish the character of all disciplines of design: master planning and urban design, landscape architecture and the architecture of buildings. In this we departed from the standard practice in India in which architecture of buildings very often precedes a broader vision of the identity of the project.

At this stage, the broad parameters of the physical framework were becoming visible, though there were many issues on which the client had to take decisions. The design concept while being strong and unique still had to have considerable flexibility to allow for decisions to be taken in the several years the project would take to be realised. The idea was simple and powerful. It contained a central L-shaped park in which many of the old trees were retained. Issues of water, landscape and high density of usage led to giving this park a sculptural quality, creating a green valley that helps to give the project its unique identity. Around this central park is a zone for a ring of buildings each of which, while accessible from the outside for cars, opens on the park side exclusively for pedestrians. Around the ring of buildings is a tree-lined ring road that feeds the buildings with its underground car parks and utilities. Outside this circulation ring is place for common utilities such as multistorey car and bike parks. PHASING AND FLEXIBILITY IN DESIGN The entire vision was so conceived that it could

Design sketch illustrating how levels in landscape have been deployed to create interaction between landscape and buildings

Their retention and reuse would… add historic character and continuity to the rich Nirlon story

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 65

drawings: shyam KhandeKar

URBAN BLUEPRINT>Nirlon Knowledge Park, Mumbai

be realised in a series of four phases, in such a way that the tenants of the buildings could still remain on the site in the initial phases. At the time of writing, almost seven years since inception, the first three stages of the project, containing nearly 80% of the built space, is in use for nearly 20,000 employees. The clarity of the zoning principles used in the vision has meant that through the completion of the different phases, there has been a great amount of flexibility in the design and realisation of the individual buildings. The development zones could be divided into more or less number of buildings depending on the external market forces and specific user needs. The central premise of the vision was that design quality and consequently long-term real-estate value is created primarily by the quality of the open space (in this case the magnificent central park), and only secondarily by the buildings. This premise meant that once the central park was designed and created, the buildings around it could be designed with greater flexibility. SUSTAINABILITY The project has undertaken a sustainable approach right from the conceptualisation of the vision and master plan, landscaping and the design and detailing of the buildings. A unique feature of the campus is that nearly 500 existing old trees have been retained during the construction of the campus. The building and hardscape footprint has been kept to a minimum thereby achieving two-fold benefits: firstly, reducing the campus’ contribution to the heat island effect and secondly, achieving better storm-water management. Considering that the site is in a low-lying area, careful landscaping of 66 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

ground levels and effective rainwater harvesting and storm water management has been put in place to avoid flooding. The campus has a district cooling system, roof top insulation, double-glazing and reflective surfaces, which ensure efficient cooling of the office premises. Additionally, the treated water from the sewage treatment plant is recycled and reused for flushing and landscaping purposes. Each of the buildings completed so far has achieved a LEED India CS Gold certification. A PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY GREEN CAMPUS The Nirlon Knowledge Park has been designed with the pedestrian in mind. While vehicular access to the campus and to the independent buildings and their parking areas is guaranteed by the ring road, the campus is designed to be a safe haven for pedestrians. Broad and well-designed pedestrian areas (including a pedestrian bridge) allow pedestrians to move freely in the campus without constantly having to be bothered by vehicular traffic. Buildings have all been so designed that their users have direct access to the central park without having to cross any vehicular traffic. Central amenities such as restaurants and coffee shops, gym and a crèche are all so located on the ground floors of various buildings that the campus user can directly access them from the park. This makes the campus not only a great place to work in for the projected work force of 25,000 people, but has also played a significant role in attracting a high-quality of companies, including among others Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and TCS, that have leased space in the various buildings.

Gentle curves define the central space in the campus

Facing page: Historic elements already present on the campus such as the chimney, the cooling tower building (now a cafe) and the temple have been cleverly incorporated within the landscape

A unique feature of the campus is that nearly 500 existing old trees have been retained

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URBAN BLUEPRINT>Nirlon Knowledge Park, Mumbai

Art has further been used to enhance the historic heritage of the site 68 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Top Left-Right: The grand lobby mural showing the history of Nirlon and recently installed sculptures by the renowned sculptor K.S. Radhakrishnan on a spiral at the bottom of the old chimney illustrate the synergy of history, design and art on the campus

LANDSCAPE AS THE GREAT CONNECTOR The concept of landscape architecture is inextricably linked to the urban-design and master planning vision of Nirlon Knowledge Park. Open spaces in the campus have been designed to retain characterful trees in the central park as well as other peripheral areas of the campus. The central park provides over 1.5 hectares of green space in the middle of the development. Sweeping curves are combined with generous lengths of open terraces, which link the building side walkways with pergolas, water bodies and the lawns of the park. A gently curving water-body forms the central feature of the park, moving from north to south, reflecting the changing moods of the landscape. Wherever possible, existing trees have been retained and new species selected to provide shelter from the sun, help filter dust and sound and add fragrance. HISTORY AND ART The vision of redesigning the Nirlon site has as its goal the retention and reuse of certain characteristic elements of the rich industrial heritage of Nirlon. As visual markers at important places in the central park, the former Cooling Tower building has been retained, as well as a chimney, industrial water tanks and a temple.


The former Cooling Tower structure has been converted into a place for several cafes and restaurants. The old chimney has been placed on a podium, which can be used for performances, and the temple and the water tanks form visual end-points of the central park. Art has further been used to enhance the historic heritage of the site. The tall and magnificent lobby of the tallest building in the campus boasts a large mural dedicated to the history of Nirlon and the chimney has become the focus of attention in the central park due to the recent installation of two sculptures by renowned sculptor K.S. Radhakrishnan on a new spiral base of the chimney. Also, in the last phase of construction, which is slated for completion in 2015, there is provision for a large mural on the building, which will further enrich the experience on the campus.

Client: Nirlon Limited, Mumbai, India

CONCLUSION The redesign and reuse of the Nirlon site, from an industrial past to a new future of work places, shows how an enlightened client and strong integral design vision can not only lead to a new quarter in the city, which builds on its heritage and history, but also that this can be done within the parameters set by the commercial market.

Architects & Engineers: Venkatramanan Associates, Bengaluru, India

Location: Goregaon (East), Mumbai, India Area of the campus: 9.70 hectares Total built-up area of buildings: 287,054 sq. mtrs Design and Construction period: 2006-2015 Master Planner and Urban Designer: BDP.Khandekar, Netherlands Landscape Architect: BDP.Khandekar, Netherlands

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 69


New Towns of Britain

Milton Keynes

Menaka Sahai gives us an insight into the planning and development of a New Town in England that continues to grow and thrive


fter World War II, building new towns had been accepted as an effective way of reconstructing Britain’s towns and communities and dealing with the shortage of housing. The 1946 New Towns Act established an ambitious programme for building new towns to deal with the problem of overcrowded city centres. It gave the government the power to designate areas of land for new town development and set up ‘development corporations’ responsible for delivering each new town. Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, was the first new town created under the Act, with 10 others following by 1955. In a second wave, another 14 new towns were planned and built in the 1960s. New towns contained a variety of house types. 70 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Shops, schools and leisure facilities were within easy reach. IntroductIon to MIlton Keynes Milton Keynes or MK, is a new town in North Bucks, in the South East of England, planned and built around the 1960s-1970s to accommodate the overspill from London. The designated area of 34 mi² (9000 acres) was marked out to include the existing railway towns of Bletchley and Wolverton and the coaching town of Stony Stratford along with another 12 historic villages and farmland in between. The town took its name from the existing village of Milton Keynes, a few miles east of the planned centre. Milton Keynes was strategically located to be

Aerial photo highlighting the grid structure of central Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes has become the young regional centre that it was set out to be

almost equidistant from London, Birmingham as well as Oxford and Cambridge in preparation for it to grow into a regional centre. With an original population of 40,000, the population of Milton Keynes is now estimated at more than 258,000 and growing; it is one of UK’s strongest city economies in recent years. Milton Keynes has become the young regional centre that it set out to be. Core idea and key prinCiples The housing minister designated MK a New Town in 1967 and the Milton Keynes Development Corporation was constituted outside of the elected local authorities to deliver the new town. Subsequently, consultants Llewellyn Davies, Weeks, Forestier-Walker and Bor were brought on board to develop the masterplan. The masterplan took into consideration the Garden City concept with spacious development, generous open spaces, including a system of linear parks responding to structural determinants of the Grand Union Canal and River Ouzel that flow through the town. The strength of the masterplan was the novelty of the underpinning principles, such as the opportunity for people to participate at various levels of planning and development, adaptable urban planning with flexibility for residents, such as to extend their homes, have the option

between private and public transport and a balanced choice between rented homes, homes for purchase and social housing. Masterplan The structure of the new town was based on a grid of roads at roughly one kilometre spacing called grid squares of about 250-300 acres each accommodating about 5000 people. Some dual carriageways with a speed of 70 mph, the same as national motorways, were included as quick transit routes to facilitate reaching your approximate destination quickly before you drop off onto a slower road. The ‘Redways’ system (tarmacked red), which accommodates both pedestrians and cyclists was developed to separate the more vulnerable users from high-speed vehicular traffic; they either cross the primary vehicular roads or go under them. Many of the Redways connect to local (see hierarchy of this service in the sketch above) centres, providing smaller local shops and services, this being a robust way to sustain good local shopping as opposed to centralised retail. A number of regional centres, with bigger chain stores and a larger retail offer, exist that will individually cater for approximately 10-15 grid squares or 20,000-30,000 people. The main shopping centre in Central Milton Keynes was designed as the high-end high street of the city. The intended objectives of the grid were for

Top Left: 1989 strategic plan showing Milton Keynes city structure and the principles of development Top Right: Location of new towns in Great Britain

due to more recent housing demands, many private developers delivered housing, which was built with an uneven mix of social housing

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URBAN BLUEPRINT>New Towns it to be designed in a way that: A. Makes it easy to understand and navigate. B. Facilitates congestion-free roads for use of the private motorcar using roundabouts at junctions rather than traffic lights or stop signs. C.Facilitates quick transit for business operations and other users of the dual carriageway grid roads. D. There is a good public transport system (Railways connecting sub-regional centres and national and local bus service) as an alternative to private car use. E. Jobs are provided in industrial areas (grid squares), which are interspersed with housing for the people living close by and act as an employment counterbalance for nearby London and Birmingham and the suburban hinterland with a net gain of people coming into the city for employment (more than leaving to work elsewhere). F. Local centres with bus stops and the concentration of residential facilities like shops, pubs and schools are placed roughly in a way that enable residents to walk approximately 500 meters within a grid from their homes to access such centres. The intended outcome of the master planning was a quality of life that allowed walkability for residents, commerce and services on main roads, low congestion allowing buses to safely stop on main roads and for cars to pull off the road for shopping, school and business, housing and employment clustered around the most accessible points, varying density of housing – higher along the grid roads and lower in the centre of each grid square.

Top: The designated area as it existed in April 1969 Middle: The first ten-year plan Bottom: The final strategic plan

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Milton Keynes as built The Development Corporation was disbanded in 1992 and planning powers successively passed over to the Commission for New Towns, English Partnerships and then to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The local authority Milton Keynes council only really finally took over full planning powers in early 2013, when it acquired the £ 31m of the HCA’s assets in Milton Keynes. As it was built, Milton Keynes deviated from original ideas in some ways. It is worth looking at these deviations if only to understand the impact of decisions on the townscape: • A large shopping centre in Central Milton Keynes was built in a single phase, which also undermined the stronghold of local shops and the older town centres, as it was intended in the original masterplan. • Finally, due to more recent housing demands, many private developers delivered housing, which was built with an uneven mix of social

housing. However, Milton Keynes now has a strong track record of housing across the city. Milton Keynes today Scale of growth for Milton Keynes is the highest for any city in the southeast outside London and it is the regional centre it had always set out to be. This is further emphasised by the presence of the Open University, University Campus Milton Keynes and Milton Keynes College, alongside nearby world-class universities at Cranfield, Cambridge and Oxford, which has put Milton Keynes in the centre of a growing knowledgebased economy. As the regional centre, Milton Keynes has been successful in providing adequate jobs so, unlike most new towns, Milton Keynes has a net inflow of workers – more people commute in than commute out. Given the pressure of growth, it is commendable that Milton Keynes has closely held on to the 40-year-old New Town urban planning principles and is building on those principles. For instance, the introduction of cycle routes over the years has strengthened non-vehicular connectivity through the town. Conservation of the historic landscape character and architectural character of old towns and villages has been a priority of Milton Keynes right from the start and this still continues. Heritage in Milton Keynes is very important and is beginning to be recognised at the local and national level; Milton Keynes has over 1000 listed buildings and 27 conservation areas. lessons learned Milton Keynes is a unique town in England, which is quite different to most other places due

to its grid layout. While the grid is undoubtedly the dominant townscape feature, it lent itself naturally to creating the public and private parts of city life, by simply altering the relationship between the buildings, the public realm and landscape. It is possible for a square grid layout to appear unimaginative and ubiquitous, but in Milton Keynes the interaction between the grid and natural features has been handled in a way that makes the layout responsive to the local characters. In urban planning terms, the impact of decisions made at the master planning stage, on the outcomes in townscapes and ultimately in the quality of life, is perhaps the key lesson to be drawn from Milton Keynes. For the masterplan to play a central role in the development of new towns, it must underpin the core principles that are consistently applied through the design development process, while leaving room for flexibility and adaptability as the plan is delivered. As the growth of Milton Keynes has continued since the late 1960s, the changes to the governance in that time have led to a system today that is somewhat removed from the Development Corporation model. This, coupled with the changes in the way we live today compared to the way of life in 1960s, means that the original principles need to be continually reviewed and adapted. The local authority delivers this responsibility by outlining ambitions for the city in Local Development Plans. The most recent one is the Core Strategy adopted in July 2013. This will be reviewed and updated in the upcoming ‘Plan: MK’, which started its first round of public consultation in the autumn of 2014.

Left-Right: Terraced housing in Milton Keynes, past and present

the introduction of cycle routes over the years has strengthened non-vehicular connectivity through the town

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Milton Keynes City DisCovery Centre (MKCDC) Their primary objective is to promote a greater appreciation and understanding of the historical, natural and built environments of Milton Keynes. MKCDC is an educational charity that tells the story of the New Town of Milton Keynes and its history and heritage from the earliest settlements. The Milton Keynes New Towns archive and research library is based on site. This contains a number of private collections as well as a large component of the Milton Keynes Development Corporation material. These collections are available for public access and currently large amounts of digitally scanned slides and photos are being transferred onto the web. They conduct a variety of lectures and tours in geography, environmental education, urban development and city planning for scholars and students, as well as professionals and government officials from all over the 74 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

world. MKCDC receives approximately 6080 delegations a year from the USA, China, Australia, Europe and more recently Africa and India. Three-hour education tours are provided at a reasonable price and these include a historic overview and more recent development scenarios lecture, with a tour going out into Milton Keynes, using the city as a model. Groups have to provide their own transport and where necessary a translator. Lectures can be tailored to address specific areas of interest. Where necessary they bring in one of their associates who is a specialist or expert in their field. School children are engaged in the history of Milton Keynes using experiential learning and re-enactments for out-of-the-classroom history days as well as engaging family and the public during open days on our Medieval Abbey site. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. On the Bradwell Abbey site they also host a variety of arts, music and heritage open days and community/family events.

school children are engaged in the history of Milton Keynes using experiential learning and re-enactments for out-of-theclassroom history days

FACT SHEET There are 32 New Towns (i.e. post Word War II and after 1946) in Britain with a total population of 2.5 million. • MK is the last and largest English New Town (designated 1967 and built from 1970). • 9000 hectares of landscaped environment including approximately 25 million trees and 400 acres of water space. • 50 miles from London, 80 miles from Birmingham, 50 miles from Oxford and Cambridge. • Land value in 1967 = £750/ ha, and in 2014 well over £1 million/ha in City Centre. • Current population of New Town = 195,200, and Borough = 250,000. Projected growth expects Borough population to be 500,000 by 2031. • Relatively young profile: 50% below 35 compared to 41% nationally, 29% (nearly 1/3 of population) under 19 years old.

Top: A residential street in Militon Keynes Middle & Bottom: Educational walking tours

Land Budget 40% Residential 12% Employment 13% Roads 26% Public green space/ parks 3% Central Business and Shopping Centre 4% Services and facilities 2% Other

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 75

photographs: MKCDC (arChives)

Milton Keynes CounCil The Milton Keynes Council is the local public authority responsible for providing more than 200 services to thousands of residents across the borough. These range from services for children and young people, highways and infrastructure improvements to leisure, sporting facilities, libraries and waste and recycling collections. Residents of Milton Keynes are urged to have their say on major planning blueprints, which will shape where they live and the way they live. In September 2014 the council launched a 12-week consultation about Plan: MK, the next evolution of its Core Strategy, reviewing it and extending the end date to at least 2031, so it will form the backbone of policies on future housing, transport links and infrastructure such as schools, health centres and leisure facilities.

URBAN BLUEPRINT>Rotterdam, The Netherlands


An Icon of Modernity

An outstanding expression of The Modern Movement in Architecture from the early 20th century, the factory complex is also a unique example of the crusade for urbanism towards an ‘open city’ in the Netherlands. Levi Wichgers visited the area and talked to architect Wessel de Jonge, who was in charge of the conservation and its adaptive reuse

An urbAn redevelopement The Van Nelle Factory (Van Nellefabriek in Dutch) complex is located in the northwest of the city of Rotterdam in the industrial zone called Spaanse Polder. The total factory site measures a little over 10 hectares and is bordered by a canal, the Delfshavense Schie. The complex is on the 76 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Unesco World Heritage list and has a reinforced concrete factory street as well as a factory garden, former tobacco, coffee and tea factories, an office building and a dispatch building with garages and warehouses with a quay along the canal. The complex is practically in its original state and enjoys State Monument protection

Van der Leeuw took advantage of the location by placing the name of the factory in large letters on the roof of the free-standing factory buildings

Van der Leeuw was one of the first entrepreneurs for whom the notion of visibility of a factory was an important factor in determining the choice of location

Van nelle and the world The Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company) and the West-Indische Compagnie (Dutch West India Company) established overseas trading posts in the ‘East’ (Indonesia, Sri Lanka) and the ‘West’ (Brazil, Surinam, Antilles), facilitating a great number of raw materials and end products. The specific origin of the Van Nelle company dates from 1782, when Johannes van Nelle (1756-1811) started a shop selling coffee, tea, tobacco and snuff, in premises located on the edge of the old inner city of Rotterdam. Kees Van der leeuw: the principal Visionary Since 1837, the Van der Leeuw family was involved with the Van Nelle company. This family was of crucial importance for the establishment of the first daylight factory in the Netherlands. Between 1925 and 1931, a brand-new industrial complex: the Van Nellefabriek was realised in the virtually undeveloped Spaanse Polder, in accordance with the most modern and enlightened ideas of that time. The factory was designed by famous Dutch architects, A Brinkman and LC van der Vlugt. Kees van der Leeuw was a practical idealist who sought to bring about a fundamental improvement of human labour conditions in factories by means of humanisation and creating a good working environment. He utilised European and American examples and added new elements such as extra personnel facilities, clear visibility of

The complex designed by the architects Brinkman and Van der Vlugt between 1925 and 1931 is practically in its original state

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CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Rotterdam, CORNER>Amstredam city The Netherlands

kees van der leeuw was a practical idealist who sought to bring about a fundamental improvement of human labour conditions in factories

the site from the main traffic arteries and efficient use of transport of raw materials. He had a great influence on the design and development of the factory complex, combining his theosophical orientation with inspiration gained in America and elsewhere. The adapTive reuse of The van nellefabriek In 1995, the owners decided to move their business activities elsewhere and sell the complex. However, they considered it a moral duty to transfer the cultural heritage of the monument in a responsible manner and to guarantee a good way of adaptive reuse and preservation. In 1999 Wessel de Jonge was appointed the coordinating architect for this mission. The idea behind adaptive reuse is focused on the preservation of the architectural and functional integrity. One of the greatest challenges was to preserve the original clarity and transparency of the Van Nellefabriek. In the Master Plan, four forms of transparency are distinguished: the lines of vision across the site to the buildings, the view from the buildings, the vistas through the buildings and the view from outside of the interior’s front zone. a box-in-a-box soluTion Within the authentic structure of the factories, a reversible infill was designed that guaranteed 78 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

the required interior climate performance for the new use but which, like a ‘box’, was positioned almost entirely independent of the carefully preserved façades. A double façade was used in which secondary glazing was placed behind the original façade. The intermediate zones thus formed create a buffer against external climatological influences and the noise from the nearby railway line and the highway. On the north-eastern side, the secondary glazing was set well back, whereby the


Work spaces

Top Left-Right: The factory street and the office space through the years

Sectional drawing of the tea factory showing the new installations, systems and climatisation principles as well as the box-in-box solution

Climate facade

Bottom Left-Right: Photographs of the different work spaces as they are today

Nowadays, the complex is used by a unique variety of tenants in the field of communication, design and architecture

intermediate space serves as a corridor. On the southwest side, where the solar gain is much greater, the additional glazing follows the line of the original sun shades between the columns. This intermediate space of 80 cms acts as a sort of climate wall. The system for automatically opening the vertical pivot windows is based on a technique applied in greenhouse construction. TraNsformaTioN iNTo a desigN facTory Nowadays, the complex is used by a unique variety of tenants in the field of communication, design and architecture. The powerful image of the Van Nellefabriek is a strong marketing tool, which supports their own company identity. In the creative sector the paradox is often found that while the tenants wish to identify with the

collective image of Van Nelle, they also wish to stand out individually. Therefore, guidelines were drawn up for future furnishing, fittings, additional unit divisions, meeting rooms or acoustic improvements. Those were made part of the tenancy agreements and the municipal heritage bureau. emblem of moderN culTure The iconic Van Nellefabriek is recognised worldwide as the purest embodiment of an internationally oriented metropolitan culture, aiming for the advancement of social and artistic progress and an open civil society. Through the streamlined design and the strong corporate identity, the site is a lasting emblem of modern culture and a continuous source of inspiration for contemporary works of art and design. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 79

photographs: robert aarts, Fas keuzenkamp/ drawings: wessel de Jonge architecten

Present view of the main hall of the office building. Photo taken from the mezzanine


Reinventing a Historic City Dr Antoine Zammit takes a look at the city of Valletta that has implemented the technique of adaptive reuse and shows us its wider implications


he Maltese Islands constitute a small archipelago located in the middle of the Mediterranean basin. With a total land area of around 316 square kilometres and an estimated population of about 420,000, this island state has a population density of over 1,300 persons per sq. km. – the highest among all European Union (EU) Member States – of which nearly 95% live in urban areas. Malta has had a chequered history, being occupied by a succession of rulers ending with the British rule, from which Independence was obtained in 1964. Throughout the centuries, the foreign occupation has resulted in a rich legacy consisting of numerous historical artefacts and structures located within the different urban settlements. Malta is currently undergoing a renewed wave of adaptive reuse strategies. This is due to a number of reasons. Most certainly, it is partly in response to existing market conditions, which in recent decades have been characterised by constant (often speculative) residential construction. This has often resulted in the demolition of traditional two-storey houses and their rebuilding into apartment blocks located on the outskirts of towns and villages. The recent building boom (particularly between 2002 – 2008) provided a strong property market resulting in an environment dominated by ‘quantity’, as opposed to ‘quality’ considerations and generating a surplus of small apartments with rooms sharing poorly lit and ventilated internal yards. In addition, the increase in prices of apartments implied that it cost as much to buy a small finished apartment within a complex of internal developments as a larger older house, albeit not necessarily centrally located and requiring some restructuring. The reduction in quality for the newer stock of apartments and their corresponding increase in prices is pushing a number of younger couples to opt for the purchase of older houses

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Figure 1: A typical scene in an urban conservation area

and redeveloping them to suit their needs. In tandem with the above, the increased adaptive reuse of existing building stock has also been the direct result of government incentives and the channelling of EU Structural Funds in order to revive Urban Conservation Areas that became depleted of younger generations as they moved out to the newer edges (Figure 1). EU Funds have also been used to restore and rehabilitate a number of historical buildings, which have lent themselves to new uses. Such rehabilitation is best exemplified within the island’s capital city, Valletta (Figure 2). Valletta and opportunities for adaptiVe reuse Valletta was built by the Order of the Knights of St. John on the so-called ‘Sciberras peninsula’ that lies between two harbours – Marsamxett Harbour along its north-western flank and the Grand Harbour along the south-east. It faces the urban enclave known as the Three Cities, containing the former capital of Birgu (or Vittoriosa) wherein the Great Siege of 1565 was fought and the main urban area in the first decades of the Knights’ occupation. The planning of Valletta, initiated

The Capital reinvented itself from a military city to a mercantile city

Figure 2: The Capital City of Valletta, rising majestically over the Sciberras Peninsula

CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Valletta, CORNER>Amstredam Malta city

Figure 3: A bird’s eye view of Valletta, capturing the city’s spatial and built configuration

82 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

There have also been numerous small and medium-sized interventions consisting of the conversion of derelict buildings

in 1566, constituted a turning point for urban planning in Malta due to its design and grid-iron disposition as well as the building regulations that were drawn up by the Order’s housing commission in 1569. Valletta has been designated a UNESCO Word Heritage Site, a reflection of its intricate network of fortifications and defence structures, its palaces, Auberges (the administrative centres of each of the seven Langues, or nationalities, of the Order) and stately buildings that adorn its regular street network as well as open spaces and, naturally, St. John’s Co-Cathedral (Figure 3). Since its inception, Valletta has been a living example of adaptive reuse. Indeed, the Capital reinvented itself from a military city to a mercantile city, in the later decades of the Order’s presence in Malta. Responding to new economic demands also necessitated a rethink of the built fabric within the city structure and, although the city’s morphology and urban grain fundamentally remained untouched, new structures emerged at the water’s edge towards the later years of the Order’s presence in Malta. In turn, these were

further redeveloped and altered by the British during their occupation of the Islands (Figure 4). The City’s military defences also readapted to new warfare technologies that developed throughout the centuries, the most radical interventions being those carried out by the British during the Second World War. Post-Independence, many of the Auberges and palaces retained an important public and civic role within the city, housing important central government offices such as Ministries and Departments, as well as new cultural infrastructure in the form of museums and galleries. More recently, large-scale interventions within the Capital have included the redevelopment of the Waterfront and the structures therein, located along Valletta’s south-eastern flank. In itself, this has been in response to the flourishing cruise liner industry, which today accounts for a significant portion of tourist influx within the Maltese shores. Other noteworthy interventions have included the offices for the Malta Stock Exchange (located within the former Garrison Chapel Building), the offices for the Bank of Valletta (located within a previous residence known as the House of Four Winds, Figure 5) and the Fortifications Interpretation Centre (within a previously Top: Figure 4: Schematic plan illustrating the evolution of the city Bottom: Figure 5 - The new bank of Valletta 0ffices at the house of Four Winds (Demicoli & Associates)

CULTURE URBAN BLUEPRINT>Valletta, CORNER>Amstredam Malta city Figure 6

Figure 7

Figure 8

Top Left: Figure 6 - External View of the Fortifications Interpretation Centre (Restoration Directorate) Top Right: Figure 7 Fortifications Interpretation Centre – internal view (Restoration Directorate) Middle Left: Figure 8 - Aerial view of the Rehabilitation Works at Fort St Elmo

The reuse of buildings must be accompanied by the restructuring of other city elements

Bottom Left: Figure 9 New Connection at Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s City Gate Intervention

derelict building extending beyond the city walls, Figures 6 and 7) – interventions that have been initiated both by the central government and the private sector. Furthermore, the central government is currently completing the restoration of Fort St. Elmo (Figure 8), located at the lower tip of the peninsula, which has been envisioned as a new cultural hub. At the other end is Renzo Piano’s new entrance to the City, a new symbol of openness that has done justice to, and restored the visual of, the abutting fortification walls (Figure 9). The integration of new pedestrian connections to the upper landscaped gardens flanking the entrance and the contemporary design for the new Parliament building, (occupying a previously informal surface car park, Figure 10) are important elements within the scheme that have redefined the status and role of City Gate today. There have also been numerous small and medium-sized interventions consisting of the conversion of derelict buildings (or individual

Figure 9

84 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

Figure 10A

Figure 10B

Figure 11

Top Left-Right: Figure 10 - (A) Old Meets New And (B) Facade Detail From The New Parliament Building By Renzo Piano Building Workshop Bottom: Figure 11 - The Old covered food market in Valletta, which will be undergoing an intervention over the coming months

flatted dwellings) into residences, offices and catering establishments. Typically, for instance, one finds a large number of law firms that have relocated to Valletta, due to its proximity to the Law Courts, although other professionals (notably architects and accountants) have also moved to the Capital. This has brought with it a number of architectural challenges, not least the constraints with the potential interventions that may be carried out on these properties due to their scheduling and/or architectural merit. Valletta has recently won the bid to become

the European Capital of Culture in 2018 (V18). This has had significant implications for the establishment of new cultural infrastructure, which will mainly manifest itself in the reuse of current buildings. Key projects in this respect include the new National Museum of Fine Arts (MUZA), which will be developed within the Auberge d’Italie (currently housing the Ministry for Tourism), the reactivation of the covered food market located in the heart of the city (Figure 11) and the conversion of the Old Civil Abattoir (the Biccerija) into a design cluster particularly Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 85

Figure 12: The built and unbuilt elements of Urban Areas, typified by the Urban Conservation Area of Rabat, Gozo

The city must reinvent itself once again in order to avoid the risk of ‘museumification’

focused on small- and medium-sized enterprises. The prospect of increased tourism activity in the run-up to, during and after V18, has started to spur the development of ancillary uses, most notably the adaptive reuse of vacant buildings into guesthouses and boutique hotels. This is taking place within the city itself, within the neighbouring town of Floriana, as well as the Three Cities, which contain a relatively cheaper building stock available for sale and adaptable to reuse. The major city interventions, therefore, are becoming catalysts for other cycles of reuse. Clearly, therefore, the city must reinvent itself once again in order to avoid the risk of ‘museumification’; that is, reducing itself to an ‘open-air museum’ that is frequented by tourists and other visitors but which otherwise fails to be relevant to its residents. The concern is important in view of the current and upcoming injection of cultural infrastructure. Indeed, all these projects cannot happen in isolation, as fragmented, inwardlooking and self-contained entities. A strategy for the city must be in place, one that sets the holistic vision and establishes the parameters within which the interventions may tie in together. In this manner, the city interventions may work together with the urban spaces within the city fabric, becoming opportunities to knit different factions of Valletta’s community together and opening up to the surrounding residential neighbourhoods.

86 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

ConCluding ThoughTs ‘Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.’ Never before has this simple, and yet so powerful maxim, been more relevant. In the recent decades that have ensued since its inception and formal implementation through European directives, much has been done in the field of recycling, with the increased deployment of biodegradable materials and the introduction of new composite resources for the building industry using recycled materials. In focusing on the third pillar of ‘The Three Rs’, however, we might have forgotten that its underlying spirit follows a logic that commences with the reduction of energy and resource requirements and proceeds with the reuse of materials. The ‘adaptive reuse’ of existing structures, coupled with ‘sustainable rehabilitation’ practices that take into account the energy performance requirements that we have come to expect of modern buildings today, best encapsulate the above logic. At the same time, as exemplified by Valletta’s account, the reuse of buildings must be accompanied by the restructuring of other city elements, particularly the unbuilt spaces (Figure 12). Only in this manner may urban interventions spark off wider regeneration processes and instigate effective, positive change for its citizens. This is the ‘unseen’ benefit of reuse, the intangible impact on the city’s ‘socio-spatial’ fabric and the ‘added value’ that may be given back to local communities.

figure 1/2/3/10B/11/12: Kris Micallef, www.KrisMicallef.coM/ figure 4: Dr antoine ZaMMit, figure 5: alex attarD & Manuel ciantar, figure 6/7: fortifications interpretation centre, Valletta, figure 8: DeMicoli & associates, figure 9/ 10a: annaMaria attarD Montalto


Change Agents

“The ‘Neemranification’ of these complexes has meant much more than just purist restoration of the buildings”


Resurrecting History Aman Nath, head of the Neemrana Group, discusses with MyLiveableCity’s Shyam Khandekar what ‘Neemranification’ implies and how it is achieved


ndian cities are steeped in history. As one moves through them, one is constantly aware of the many layers of history that reveal themselves sometimes in bits and pieces and at other times as scenic ensembles. The older cities have several layers of historic buildings and networks of spaces – very often, the early Hindu layer, followed by the Islamic one and then the colonial European one. We are all aware of the significance of the ‘wadas’ of Wai, the ‘havelis’ of Lucknow and the forts of Rajasthan on the character of our cities. Yet, in spite of the qualities they add to our cities, many of these structures are underutilised or totally unused. Numerous others are crumbling and in a dilapidated state. While respect for history and the common sense of sustainability should trigger us to make better use of them, several are now beyond repair and reuse. The work of Aman Nath and Francis Wacziarg, founders of the Neemrana Group, is remarkable in that they show how underutilised historic buildings and complexes can be given a new sense of purpose through creative redevelopment and reuse. Starting with the forgotten fort at Neemrana, which was built in the 15th century by the descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan III, Aman and Francis have, in the last decades, succeeded in creating an entrepreneurship that ‘makes history come alive’. In fact, their efforts have been so laudable, that the term ‘neemranification’ has come to imply more than just purist restoration of historic buildings.

Excerpts from a question-answer session with Aman Nath: Few historians become hoteliers. Could you tell us how, with your education as a historian, you ended up in this industry? Ratan Tata trained as an architect but became involved with nation building. Krishen Khanna, one of our better contemporary painters, was a banker. In my case, the connection to history continued, don’t you think? 88 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

My academics got a better dose of aesthetics when I moved to stone and mortar owing to my aptitude for design and drawing. So I did what I thought was best suited to my life. Francis Wacziarg studied business management in Paris but then colonial architecture was a huge draw for him. I was born to refugee parents from Lahore. As a child, I was taught not to waste anything. To grow up and find such large scale waste sitting sadly on a hill was alarming. Maybe it came from this inborn fight against waste. Also, it was a challenge to my design sense and aesthetics to try and wake up history. Both Francis and I value old structures. How did you approach the process of redesigning these complexes since you wanted to retain their authentic qualities and yet transform their function? A changed end-use naturally means that the old shell stays along with the internal walls. Where four tiny storerooms existed in Tijara, we opened arches and chiselled the central pillar to unite the space. At Neemrana, the vegetarian kitchens are now a small Radha Mahal that opens onto a courtyard. At many heritage hotels, the stables have become rooms. Attached bathrooms were not present in the 14th century; they have only been in existence since the 19th century. We have added plumbing and wiring for instant lights everywhere for guests to read on a lounge chair, to shave over a washbasin or apply lipstick at a dressing table. When these buildings were originally built, an oil lamp was all they had for lighting. How have these transformations been embedded in the cultural and economic life of the settlements to which these complexes originally belonged? Together, we have restored and reused buildings of six colonising nations of the adventurous marine centuries – the 17th to the 19th centuries – which connected India to the Portuguese, Dutch, French, British, Scottish

Respect for history and the common sense of sustainability should trigger us to make better use of them

PhotograPh: Francis Wacziarg

Aman Nath

and Danish. To this, Rajput, Maratha and Sikh architecture was also added to give the Neemrana a ‘non-hotel’ vibe that no other hotel chain can claim. The ‘Neemranification’ of these complexes has meant much more than just purist restoration of the buildings. If you just return an unlisted step well to its original state when it had no water left in it, what would you have achieved? But instead if its character is maintained and it becomes a place where crafts

persons can live temporarily and showcase their works, then that makes sense. This will also help them sell their goods as visitors come to see the architectural marvels. On-going financial viability is very important for Neemrana. You cannot subsidise anything forever. Even the USSR finally crumbled on Karl Marx’s appealing theory! They joke that Mrs. Marx would have been happier if her dear Karl had made some capital rather than just write so much against making it.

As a child I was taught not to waste anything. To grow up and find such large scale waste sitting sadly on a hill was alarming

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 89


Neemrana Fort-Palace

‘The Bungalow on the the Beach’, Tranquebar

Interiors of ‘The Bungalow on the Beach’, Tranquebar

photographs:Francis Wacziarg / amit pasricha

Neemrana Fort-Palace

photographs: aman nath

Before & After views

The mind-set will have to change before a responsible partnership can show results

We fund our own ‘revitalisation’, as we like to call it, so we remain very hands-on. It is also a very people’s movement as in the early stages masons, carpenters, plumbers and then the local staff drawn from surrounding areas run the show. Your approach has given an economic boost to the neighbouring areas and a sense of pride to the local community; it is an effort that needs to be supported. Where do you think governmental bodies could be more helpful? Our experience is that government organisations are not geared to help entrepreneurs. They really need to change. And their alertness and sensitivity to change will be the real barometer of progress in our nation besides what the unstoppable private sector entrepreneurs keep doing to push India ahead.

In our field, things are a bit more complex. The Archaeological Survey of India looks after listed buildings like the Taj Mahal but hundreds of thousands of unlisted buildings still form the physical heritage of the people of India. Who will preserve them? And then, if other buildings in government possession need help, how can the government, with so many other important priorities like basic nutrition for children or clean water and sanitation, pay attention to the buildings in its charge? Public Private Partnership (PPP) is possibly the way forward. But the mind-set will have to change before a responsible partnership can show results. If the ‘Licence Raj’ continues in another guise, it could lead to deadlocks. Our experience has been that governments keep talking without listening to even their own ministries. We hope that PPP will change all that.

PhotograPh: Cyril Kuhn

‘Neemranification’ of these complexes has meant much more than just purist restoration of the buildings

CHANGE AGENTS>Citizen Participation

One for all and all for one Anil Chinniah, founder member of the Residents Welfare Association of Koramangala, Bengaluru, speaks to MyLiveableCity’s Shashikala Venkatraman about how citizens can change a community for the better by working together

92 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

very clear. His attitude however had to change when he realised that it was a community rallying together rather than a few isolated individuals. Several months of forceful interactions with the authorities, getting press coverage and coming together finally yielded results and the strongman had to surrender the space. This playground today has been judiciously apportioned as an open field, a park and a library, an outdoor gymnasium (actively used by all residents from 12-year-olds to 80-yearold citizens) as well as a section for solid waste management and street leaf litter composting. What was once a private fiefdom is today a vibrant community centre. The RWA has achieved much in these six years. It pioneered a waste segregation effort in 2011, again through a door-to-door campaign of reaching out to residents, educating them of the need to segregate their waste and providing the means to do so. While the wet waste is picked up every morning, a new dry waste pickup was introduced on Saturdays. Residents were provided bags to collect the dry waste. Volunteers accompanied the garbage pickup staff on Saturday afternoons for a full six months to ensure that residents indeed provided segregated dry waste in their bag. Young children joined in the campaign with the street volunteers to inspect dry bags and make sure the dry waste was clean on Saturday mornings before pickup. This system has been in place since March 12, 2011, and nothing, not even bandhs, monsoon showers, cricket matches nor elections have disrupted this Saturday dry waste pickup.

A public playground within their neighbourhood had been taken over for private use

Left: An outdoor gymnasium, Middle: The open field RIght: Solid waste management and street leaf litter composting



n 2008, a bunch of residents in third block Koramangala – a leafy district in South Eastern Bengaluru – came together to improve their vicinity. There was a common cause: a public playground within their neighbourhood had been taken over for private use. The playground had in effect been made a private property by a well-connected strongman who made the ground inaccessible to the general public. He would rent out the ground to corporates and run chargeable coaching camps for cricket. Influential residents, peeved by blatant private use of a public ground, despite trying, could not restore the playground to the public. This inequity provided a strong impetus for residents to rally together and what could not be achieved individually was attempted collectively. Residents from diverse backgrounds – doctors, homemakers, engineers, entrepreneurs, the old and the young – decided to form a Residents Welfare Association (RWA). They launched a door-to-door campaign requesting fellow residents to become members of the Koramangala 3rd block RWA. What started with a few residents has over 500 members today. Their early playground battle was a steep learning curve. It involved overcoming the amazing stonewalling tactics of the authorities. Repeated and determined interactions with the political class (Corporators, MLAs and MPs) as well as with officials and bureaucrats – Police and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, (BBMP) staff – were required. Active residents even faced intimidation tactics from the strongman. Individual residents were accosted and threatened as he made his aggressive intentions

First draft for the proposed Mestripalya lake, W-i-p awaiting approval by stakeholders

Nothing, not even bandhs, monsoon showers, cricket matches nor elections have disrupted this Saturday dry waste pickup

The NGO, which receives this segregated dry waste, pays the BBMP pickup staff directly for the good quality dry waste and hence a virtuous winwin cycle has been created for all stakeholders. An average of 500 kgs per week of dry waste has been sustained for these 180+ weeks so far. Similarly, since January 2013, the neighourhood has invested in a leaf shredder, and currently composts all the leaf litter in the surroundings. The dry leaves that were earlier burnt, adding to the city’s pollution, are today composted. The unit currently generates about 10 tonnes of compost a month, which is then sold to corporates and local residents. The aim is to make this facility self sustaining with the sales of the compost paying for the labour (five staff and one overseer) involved in segregating leaf litter and converting it to compost. During the 2014 monsoon season, the RWA was responsible for planting 250 saplings in the neighbourhood. A desperate effort to retain the green cover in this city as it continues its frenzied pace of urbanisation, where unlawful cutting of age-old trees to simply make a storefront better visible have become a norm. The RWA has also taken the reins to retain good quality of life in the neighourhood. Collective interactions between the RWA and the authorities (BBMP, BWSSB, Bescom) have been more productive as compared to earlier individual entreaties to the same authorities. Thanks to activist residents, the neighbourhood pursued public interest litigation all the way to the Supreme Court. They overturned an attempt by the political class to create a layout for MLAs and are in the process of restoring a 17-acre prime piece of land as a lake which it was originally in the 1970s.

Again, the RWA has been active in interacting with the authorities in the management of this project. Since inception, the RWA has grown in size and in its achievements. There has been a lot that they have learnt in the process. Building a consensus given diverse viewpoints is a challenge. However the RWA has very defined norms to make the association inclusive and truly represent the community. Thanks to annual elections and a two-year term limit, it has broadened the base of the decision-making committee members. There is a conscious effort to enthuse new and younger members to ensure vibrancy and longevity of the RWA. An active email group keeps everyone in the community regularly informed of all activities. Decisions are often debated and consensus built based on open discussions. While the association has made rapid strides in a few years, the most important accomplishment, though intangible, is the fostering of a community. The association has reached out to all residents and has built a sense of family, something which earlier did not exist. Anonymous neighbours who previously lived isolated lives are today friends. Cultural and social events like the annual carnival, the sports day and celebrations of Gandhi Jayanti, Independence and Republic Days all provide opportunities for neighbours to meet. Events for senior citizens, setting up of help lines etc., have created a sense of well-being amongst all involved. It is this sense of family that will nurture them, both in good times and in bad. Mahatma Gandhiji’s “Be the change you want to see in the world” has been an inspiration and RWA hopes to pass on a cleaner and more liveable city to the next generation. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 93

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“Many cities around the world are actively involved in innovative and highly efficient recycling programmes�

CULTURE CORNER>Amstredam city PROVOCATEUR>Sustainability

Old is New Anamika Prasad of Environmental Design Solutions tells us why it’s so much better to use old doors, windows, furniture and fixtures. It not only contributes to reuse and recycling but also adds a touch of charm and eccentricity to a space


n June this year, with Shastri Bhawan yielding 70,000 kilograms of scrap in three weeks, the business of recycling clearly assumed centre stage. From the standpoint of built environment, recycling construction waste amounts to sheer good sense. This stems from the understanding that a new building, at the time of occupancy, has already consumed more than 40% of the total energy that it will consume over the entire span of its life. Here’s how. At a broad level, energy consumption of all systems may be categorised into manufacturing energy and operating energy. The first relates to energy spent on extracting, mining and harvesting raw materials for system components, production processes and transportation – in other words, energy embodied within the material. The latter refers to the energy spent on operating the system post its production. Embodied energy of building material and its optimisation has long been overshadowed by operational energy efficiency. It is true that in many developed economies, embodied energy constitutes less than 10% of the energy that a building will eventually consume over its lifecycle. However, this does not imply that optimising embodied energy is not imperative. It merely reiterates that while optimising operational energy yields immediate benefit to the owner through reduced energy bills, embodied energy, by contrast, remains an abstract and somewhat nebulous concept. As buildings become more energy-efficient operationally, embodied energy of building materials becomes a proportionately larger portion of the life cycle energy consumption. In our part of the world, where most buildings

96 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

are not expected to be heated or cooled through most of the day, embodied energy acquires a more compelling stature. In peri-urban and rural settings, embodied energy may constitute an even higher proportion of the life cycle energy consumption. This concatenates well with recycling. For what could better lower embodied energy than using a recycled material or product that has already been manufactured? Many common building materials like steel, aluminum, burnt brick, cement, ceramic, glass and mortar, come with high embodied energy content. According to a study conducted at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, multi-storeyed reinforced cement concrete framed structures – the most ubiquitous building vocabulary in urban areas – contain 4.21 GJ/m2 of embodied energy. This can be reduced to 2.92 GJ/m2 in conventional load-bearing brickwork buildings and further to 1.61 GJ/m2 in buildings that use alternative building materials with high recycled content. Several institutes and government agencies like Application of Science and Technology for Rural Areas (ASTRA), Tara Nirman Kendra, Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), and Auroville Earth Institute have been continuously experimenting with building materials and products with low embodied energy as well as high recycled content. Filler slabs, plank and joist roof systems, stabilised mud blocks, ferroconcrete roof tiles and many other low-cost and low-energy building systems have been developed over the last two decades. The embodied energy of these products or techniques stays low because of simple processes that allow local production by semi-skilled labour and high quantities of recycled content.

For what could better lower embodied energy than using a recycled material or product that has already been manufactured?

While selecting stone for the floors of our current workplace, my colleagues and I were fascinated by heaps of leftover slabs of stone and tiles that appeared headed for a landfill

Interior photographs of the office of Environmental Design Solutions in Delhi showing the creative reuse of materials

Sites like OLX, Quikr and GreenDust have infused secondhand goods with a ‘contemporarychic’ quotient

Red mud from aluminum manufacturing units, flyash from thermal power plants, slag from steel plants, mine tailings from mining and quarrying and coal ash are only a few examples of sources of recycled material that could be used in the production of bricks, stabilised blocks, aggregate substitute and lime-pozzolena cement. Fortuitously, while selecting stone for the floors of our current workplace, my colleagues and I were fascinated by heaps of leftover slabs of stone and tiles that appeared to be headed for a landfill. Soon these were re-routed to our workplace, graded, sorted and classified for a creative floor finish – the dealer only too happy to save on his dumping costs (we paid only for transportation). Next, all doors, windows, partitions, shutters, wooden jaalis, glass partitions, metal grilles, hardware and frames were sourced from the bazaar along the Okhla Barrage in New Delhi. Not only have the recycled products contributed to a lower embodied energy, they have lent the space a unique ambience and creative energy. The furniture market at Amar Colony, the Sunday Bazaar near Jama Masjid in Delhi and Chor Bazaar in Mumbai have been thriving on the sale of recycled and refurbished furniture and home components for years. Inadvertently (or not!), the arrival of online classifieds sites like OLX, Quikr and GreenDust has infused second-hand goods with a ‘contemporary-chic’ quotient. This is expected to not just endure but grow to an overwhelming Rs 50,000 crore in terms of market size over the next few years – with microwaves, air conditioners, cars and refrigerators flying across cyberspace! No thesaurus would substantiate this, but ‘OLX’ is now a verb that means ‘sell’!

While this phenomenon is representative of the aspirational growth of the middle-class, it is likely to give rise to several complex dilemmas for policymakers. For instance, should older cars with higher emissions continue on our roads after exchanging one or more hands? From the perspective of embodied energy, after due consideration is accorded to the emissions arising out of the production of a new car, the answer may be in the affirmative. However, only a closer, more detailed analysis that takes into account fuel efficiency, location, urban pollution level and a host of other factors, can yield an accurate assessment. In case of buildings, fitting triple-glazed argonfilled windows to ensure operational energyefficiency will definitely entail higher embodied energy. The energy saved in heating or cooling the building may, however, offset the impact of high embodied energy. In order to unravel similar complexities and to better balance the operational vs. embodied energy debate, embodied energy needs to be examined with a more robust and standardised quantitative analyses framework. Perhaps, as in some developed nations, we can move towards embodied carbon – a measure that depicts impact in terms of emissions and allows a snap comparison. We could also move to energy use index targets that cover both embodied and operational energy. It is time the rhetorical adage ‘why reinvent the wheel’ be unfurled to ‘why manufacture the wheel’ when you can recycle the one from that old wagon? Anamika Prasad is an expert in the field of Environmental Design and Sustainability. She is the founder and director of EDS, environmental design consultants in Delhi. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 97


Intelligent Reuse in Cities John G. Jung tells us how innovation and smart thinking are transforming city waste and derelict structures into brilliant new models of productivity and reusable energy sources


ne of the key principles of Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities is that they are models of sustainability. As cities increasingly become home to the world’s population, they become the source of much of the world’s pollution problems and also the greatest hope for solving them. From reusing brick and beam buildings and turning them into LEED Platinum green buildings to recycling computers, promoting digital inclusion and turning garbage into the gold standard for heating and cooling homes, smart cities are becoming more efficient and productive and Intelligent Communities are becoming more complete and holistically planned communities. Cities are crucibles where experimentation and market forces combine to test innovation. New ideas sometimes are not new at all. They may take years and even decades to come to a tipping point. This may occur when external forces come together in a perfect moment in time when the idea is accepted and adopted by the masses. The concept of reuse and recycling has been evolving in cities for years. Today, many cities around the world are actively involved in innovative and highly efficient recycling programmes. In the Intelligent Community of Manchester, England, the concept of ‘single stream recycling’ combines all paper products, glass bottles and aluminum, steel and plastic containers into one collection container, which is the most convenient means for citizens to practice recycling. The materials are separated and processed at a material recovery facility and sold to end-markets. According to Manchester asset managers, this method has resulted in a net increase in total materials recovered across the city. It also allows for automated collection. Another automated system involves an urban separation and garbage vacuum system, called Envac, which can be found in Intelligent Communities such as Stockholm, Singapore and Montreal. Combined with an ‘Energy From Waste’ facility, the garbage can be burned and used to heat the city in which the waste was collected and separated. These dynamic vacuum systems are buried in the ground in high density areas and use half the energy to manage

Intelligent Communities are becoming more complete and holistically planned communities

the collection process over traditional trucking systems. Intelligent Communities also recycle and reuse energy in creative ways such as utilising concentrations of data centres to become heat providers that help keep the carbon footprint as small as possible. Dumping computers and computer parts is an environmental problem that has the potential, through recycling and reuse, to instead become a force for positive social change. For instance, in the Intelligent Community of Riverside, California, their Digital Inclusion Programme is based on training at-risk and low-income families to become digitally literate. As an incentive for digital training, families receive a reward in the form of a fully refurbished computer, donated by corporations who have discarded them as they upgrade their systems. As a result, the Information Technology (IT) clusters in Intelligent Communities may be looked upon to take on a more important part in becoming role models of sustainability and reuse by reducing carbon dioxide emissions through creative means. Cities that are blessed with old brick and beam structures, from clusters of old houses, abandoned factories and empty warehouses, should look at them as essential community and economic assets. In Columbus, Ohio, USA, a large district of historic architecture known as the German Village was saved from demolition in the 1960s through creation of a local heritage commission, with power over external changes made to the 1600 registered structures. In addition, the German Village in this Intelligent Community was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the premiere restoration

Many cities around the world are actively involved in innovative and highly efficient recycling programmes


Top Left: Waterloo Region Bottom Left: Breithaupt Block, Eindhoven, The Netherlands Right: Red October, Moscow

Dumping computers and computer parts is an environmental problem that has the potential, through recycling and reuse, to instead become a force for positive social change

districts in the world. A key consideration for the district is that any property listed in the National Register would qualify for tax incentives. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, an area near the heart of this Intelligent Community’s city centre called the Exchange District is the National Historic Site of Canada that comprises 20 city blocks and 150 turn-of-the-century warehouses, financial institutions and early terra cotta-clad skyscrapers. Today, new brick and beam offices for digital industries, educational institutions and even a ‘maker space’ call this heritage innovation district home. Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada, an industrial area that brewed Seagram’s whiskey, was considered the button capital of the world and was home to the largest tanning factory in the Commonwealth. Eventually it transformed its industries to make televisions, shoes, shirts and tyres. More recently, the region transformed itself once again to make sophisticated automobiles, advanced projection equipment, Blackberry smartphones and satellite equipment, not to mention scores of code writers for the tech firms and start-ups in this ‘Start-up City’ that was also considered the most Intelligent Community in the World in 2007. This transformation is leveraging the large number of brick and beam structures of older industries of the past to become home to the new software incubators and IT businesses in what the community now calls ‘Quantum Valley’. Eindhoven, The Netherlands, was the birthplace of Philips. When it relocated out of Eindhoven, it left many structures behind. The city regrouped and rebounded successfully to become, according to Forbes magazine, the most innovative city in the world, based largely on the great number of patents that it has registered. This Intelligent Community

has redeveloped its central core as well as reused and redeveloped its former Philips Technology Park. In Moscow, the high tech zone along the Bersenevskaya embankment of the Moscow River on Balchug Island is known as ‘Krasniy Oktyabr’ or Red October. The district evolved from a former chocolate factory into an artist and designer district, a highly attractive zone that brings young Muscovites together to celebrate the arts and bring new ideas to the forefront of Moscow, within the shadow of the Red Square and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Famous for the Russian feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot, the district also attracts creative clothes designers and market enthusiasts to the Lambada Market. While the campus-like structures maintain an inexpensive bohemian environment for designers as well as a museum and nightclubs, the future is ripe for this avant-garde location to become an innovation district in the heart of Moscow. Cities are the focal points for change. There will always be some form of recycling and reuse of buildings, building materials and their contents. How people respond to these changes and how they adapt and accept them will ultimately become a reflection of their values. Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities are leaders in leveraging this transformation as a way to create better, more interesting and vibrant cities for their citizens, especially by adding new broadband infrastructure and exciting new businesses and activities into the mix. As author Stephen King writes in The Colorado Kid: “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.” John G. Jung is Chairman and Co-Founder of ICF, recognised as originating the Intelligent Community concept and continues to serve as the Forum’s leading visionary.


Honey, let’s save the bees! Bees are dying in droves. Sumitra Naren brings to the fore the urgent need to save them and stop the devastation of our food supply


n 1977, I saw a Marathi film Jait Re Jait. Having lost an eye after being stung by bees in the forest, a Thaakar tribal wants revenge. Obsessed, he manages to destroy the honeycombs of the bees high in the mountains and drive away the queen bee. In the process, his wife (the queen), while supporting his quest, dies due to the stings of the angry bees that swarmed out of the destroyed nest. This somehow affirms some of our fears about bees. All we learnt in school about bees was that they made honey and could sting us. The Bee Centre in Mahabaleshwar was seen mostly as a good source to buy seasonal honey such as Hirda, Jamun or Gela, each with its own delicate flavour. Thereafter, not much thought was given to the importance of bees to humankind and their crucial role in the environment. Now we see a drastic change. The disappearance of multitudes of honey-bees is triggering a global movement towards saving the bees and bee-keeping. Since pre-historic times humankind has had a symbiotic relationship with bees. This is evident from ancient Egyptian paintings and from the history of some abbeys. Humans were busy with apiculture as a routine. Honey was the main sweetener long before sugar made its advent. It was a feast too. Honey was procured from forests by tribes for their own use as food and medicine or for barter. The beeswax was used for candles and other purposes like treating and healing wounds. England itself is known to have about 250 types of bees. In India we have a few varieties, which are Asia specific; among them are Apis cerana indica prevalent in the Western Ghats and resident here for centuries and Apis dorsata (Giant Honey-bee), but India also hosts the Western strain called Apis mellifera. The beehive is a complex vibrant mechanism. The Queen Bee rules and motivates hundreds of bees in the honeycomb, which is like a womb. She lays thousands of eggs, which are nurtured and fed by the worker bees, who have their own hierarchy. The younger ones have roles to play inside the hive, such as cleaning, taking care of and feeding the new brood. The older ones are

100 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

the foragers. A few among them are the scout bees. These go out first to locate sources of nectar. They can travel anywhere between two to seven kms to scout. When they come back they perform a waggle dance, which gives directions to the other worker bees to go out to forage and trembling motions that give information as to the amount of nectar available. Besides this, the bees also make sure the temperature within the honeycomb is maintained. For the survival of a colony, they need to be very efficient. Bees make hundreds of trips back and forth to collect nectar and pollen. This feeds them as well as gives us precious honey and by-products. Various types of bees play a vital role in the important function of pollinating our grains and fruits. Except for a few exceptions like rice, which is wind pollinated and pepper, which is rain pollinated, most of the food we eat is pollinated by bees (although other pollinators play their role too). One-third of the global food production is dependent on the honey-bee. This crucial link in our food chain is now threatened. In 1923 Rudolph Steiner, philosopher and scientist, had predicted that in 80 to 100 years the bees would be threatened by collapse. French bee-keepers first noticed alarming signs when many bees did not return to the hives during the summer of 1994. Some honey-bees gathered close to the ground or hovered disorientated and displayed abnormal foraging behaviour. Since then, more and more reports are coming in of a worldwide mass disappearance of honey-bees, now known as the Colony Collapse Disorder. In USA alone nearly 60% of the bees disappeared in 2002. Bee-keepers travel thousands of miles in America with their hives during the almond season alone to pollinate farms. Last season 37 million bees died on one farm in the USA. The loss of bees has become an economic crisis. The cause of this collapse has been under investigation and research for years and now the reason for this disaster is attributed to a few factors. First was the Varroa mite that sucks hemolymph like a leech and infests the hive. This affected even the bees in India,

Not much thought was given to the importance of bees to humankind and their crucial role in the environment

photograph: WIKIpEDIa CoMMoNS

One-third of the global food production is dependent on the honey-bee

Bee keepers

Bees in their hive

besides other countries. Monoculture crops have destroyed hedgerows. These spaces are needed for the bee’s health, as they provide a diverse food source for the bees. Extensive use of pesticides and insecticides are killing bees and other pollinators along with the pests. Recently the main culprits have been identified as Neonicotinoids or Neonics. These are used to coat seeds and are prevalent in insecticides produced by the chemical giants. The European Union has imposed partial bans on Neonicotinoids but more effective and complete bans are needed in all countries if we have to save the bees and our food supply. Bee-keepers are now suing the pesticide companies for enormous losses. The producing companies are definitely looking at profits instead of the impending environmental disaster. Bee-keeping represents a large economic sector in the world, although not many people are aware of this in their day-to-day lives. Not only is it a source of income for this profession but also a crucial support for agriculture and horticulture alike. Without bees there will be no farming. The dependence of managed bee colonies has increased in agriculture in the past decades. In India too, many farmers not only use bees for grain and fruit pollination for better yields, it is also a good source of additional income for them. The food production and economic crisis the mass deaths of bees have created is serious enough to motivate Rabobank, a bank in Holland, to write a report titled: ‘Why the loss of Honey-bee colonies may sting global agriculture’. Rabobank has worked closely with farmers, agriculture and horticulture businesses for decades, so its lead in this issue is noteworthy. Another initiative that has been started to mitigate this crisis is the promotion of gardening in urban areas with plantations of bee-friendly gardens. People are digging up lawns and replacing them with wild flowers. Not since World War II, when the British gentry staunchly gave up decorative gardens for food production, has such action been initiated so passionately.

Urbanites are promoting rooftop flower gardens in London, New York and Amsterdam to name a few. Bee-keeping lessons are helping urbanites to start hosting their beehive and care for it in their gardens or rooftops. In April 2012, even chef David Garcelon at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York had, with the help of passionate beekeeper Andrew Cote, established beehives on the hotel’s roof. The movement is going global. Visionaries like Gunther Hauke (USA) and others in UK, Germany and Holland are setting up acres of bee sanctuaries with bee-supporting wildflower and medicinal plants to help establish healthy bee populations. In Holland, Business4bees has innovatively started an environmentally friendly module wherein businesses and donors can invest a certain amount per year for a three-year period to sponsor a beehive. Business4bees takes care that hives are placed so as to get ample nectar supply. Rabobank has sponsored the programme too. Urban beekeeping is spiraling into a movement. In India help is at hand since the bee centre in Mahabaleshwar and other organisations are giving bee-keeping courses. The bee centre also conducts programmes during Pandharpur waari and Alandi yatras to make farmers and villagers aware of the problems and the financial and environmental benefits of bee-keeping. We yet have flowering trees in our cities as well as gardens, which can lend a helping hand. Suburban gardeners and people with farmhouses can play a role in conserving natural habitats and bee-keeping. The key is to host flowering plants that are loved by bees, such as simple openfaced flowers of single petal marigolds, old rose varieties, lantana and hibiscus. Balconies can host flowers like petunias, chameli and the common tulsi. Set up beehive sponsor programmes and involve corporates. Then maybe we can help halt this devastation.

Sumitra Naren is active as a consultant in the organic food sector and related sustainable technologies. She works in both the EU and India as director of SNConsultancy. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 101


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Culture Corner

“The project is exquisitely detailed with contemporary new elements such as stairs and pavements!�


MuMbai Waterfront

old frontiers: Potential reuse and revitalisation amit arya and buvana Murali tell us why it’s imperative to save Mumbai’s now abandoned waterfront for our city’s future


umbai’s (erstwhile Bombay) geography as a peninsula is largely oriented westward. Few people know of the eastern edge of the city, once a thriving port and the very reason for the city’s growth in the 19th century as a global industrial metropolis. Kept mostly in the dark and obscured from public imagination, the Eastern Waterfront recently came into view with the opening of the Eastern Freeway. Mangroves, oil refineries, chemical plants, warehouses and ship building yards suddenly had an audience. A large portion of this land belongs to estates of the Bombay Port Trust (BPT) and amounts to about 1800 acres, about half of which are lying unused. There have been renewed political ambitions to create ‘public spaces’ on portions of this land, which the public is sceptical about. People are only too aware of the Mill Lands that met the fate of development and ended up with very little public domain. Even though the area is as conflicted as most land holdings in Mumbai, it offers the possibility of readdressing much of the city’s problems. Connecting Mumbai across the water to the mainland remains one of the last and most critical solutions to reducing the burden on the railways and refocusing the migration northwards to the east. In the regional growth scenario of the Golden Triangle (connecting Mumbai, Nashik and Pune), the Eastern Waterfront is vital as it connects the old centre with the hinterland’s emergent industries: special economic as well as agricultural export zones. The history of Mumbai’s seaboard is dotted with wars and exchanges as her ownership and administration regularly changed hands. The contested nature of authority still remains, as is the nature of all holdings of great value. What was her greatest asset in the 16th century, a protected port separated by water from the warlords of mainland India, now remains her biggest challenge. In the early 1600s, the British East India Company, facing considerable military and trade

104 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

There have been renewed political ambitions on creating ‘public spaces’ in portions of the land, which the public is sceptical about

The Tethered Beast: INS Vikrant just before it was cut and sold for metal scrap. Could not the redevelopment of the Bombay Port Trust lands have incorporated a re-use strategy for this Leviathan as public infrastructure?

BPT waterfront: A comparative analysis of scale of the Bombay Port Trust land with other waterfront developments from around the world







120000 140000 160000

Value of Real Estate in Rupees/Sq.ft Bandra

Sion Mahim


Wadala King Circle Matunga RLI SE




Dadar East Dadar West Parel






Lower Parel Worli


Lower Parel

Mahalaxmi Opera House

Cotton Green

Gamdevi Bombay Central Tardeo Grant Road

Reay Road

Mumbai Central

Altamount road

Dockyard Road

Warden Road Breach Candy

Sandhurst Road

Carmicheal Road Kemps Corner


Peddar Road Napean Sea Road


Walkeshwar Girgaon


Marine Drive


Marine Lines Ballard Estate Fort Churchgate Nariman Point m

Cuffe Parade 2k


COLABA Commercial 3k



1748 First dry docks are built

1684 East India Company shifts its headquarters from Surat to Bombay

1528-1626 Portuguese Administrative centre in the city

Bombay is an archipelago of 7 islands with fishing villages and paddy fields





106 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015











1996 JICA report produced for Improvement of the working of the port 2000 KRVIA and UDRI with Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation initiate study on the Mumbai Eastern waterfront 2002 Maharashtra Chief Secretary institutes task force to strategize the future development of the waterfront to benefit the port as well as the city. 2004 MMRDA commissions UDRI to prepare Vision plan of the area 2006 Port trust announces expansion of land by reclaiming 75-acre of its oldest docks — Prince's dock and Victoria dock. 2007 BPT awards proposal to build offshore container terminal to Gammon Infrastructure. Project delayed by 6 years leading to almost two-fold cost escalation 2008 Construction begins on Eastern Freeway


1989 New port JNPT set up across the harbor at Nhava Sheva with the intent of decommissioning the Bombay Port

0 km

1980 Industrial relocation policy passed. Cotton Textile mills shut down.


1947 India becomes an Independent Nation State. Karachi’s port activities shifted to Bombay


1915 Port trust railways started

1880’s - 1912 Reclamations to the tune of 1000 acres added to the Port Trust estates



1875 First wet docks are built


1873 Constitution of the Bombay Port Trust

1869 Suez canal opens bringing Europe closer to Asia









1853 First train between Thane and Bombay

1850-1900 Cotton Textile Mills set6 up



VASHI 1 km 4 km








2014 October 2013 Mumbai Docklands Regeneration forum files PIL against MbPT against the building of their offshore container terminal

October 2013 UltraTech Cement is awarded contract to build a Rs 100-crore terminal at the Mumbai Port in return for lease over 2.5 hectares of land over 30 years

October 2013 The port trust announces plans to free up 50 hectares of land for tourism and other activities

May 2014 Supreme court allows moving INS Vikrant (decommissioned in 1997) to Darukhana

June 2014 Mumbai Eastern Freeway opened to public

June 2014 The Maharashtra government de-reserves 71-acre Wadala salt pan plot from NDZ to build government offices and staff quarters

June 2014 Union Ministry for shipping announces projects at BPT land. Ideas include building a cruise terminal, a 500-room floating hotel and Ferris wheels along the lines of the London Eye

August 2014 Government announces Rs.25.5 Cr worth redevelopment of Sassoon Docks


Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 107

CULTURE CORNER>Photo Essay opposition at their trading base of Surat, realised the immense natural advantage of Mumbai Harbour as a maritime base. The eastern harbour offered a natural separation from land attacks as well as a refuge from the violence of the southwestern monsoon. In 1668, the port as well as Mumbai Island passed into the hands of the East India Company from the Crown for a small annual rent of 10 pounds. It was after 1672, when the East India Company shifted its headquarters from Surat to Mumbai, that the city grew as a trading port attracting immigrants and vanguard merchants from the hinterlands. From 1735 till the coming of steam in the following century, Mumbai was famous as a ship building centre mainly under the Wadias (emigrants from Surat) whose ships were ‘as staunch and well finished as any ship building yard in Europe could produce.’ The irony isn’t lost that the very city that was known for its shipbuilding now harbours one of the largest ship breaking yards in the country at Darukhana. Mumbai’s first dry dock at Dockyard Precinct was instituted in 1748 and wet docks were first constructed in 1875. By the middle of the 18th century, Mumbai’s merchants were regularly trading with the inland centres and outwardly to Arabia, Persia and East Africa. Railway communication with the interior, cotton textile mills, steam coastal

ferry services and the opening of the Suez Canal to traffic in 1869 revolutionised the maritime trade of Mumbai and largely converted her into the Imperial port of India. The American Civil War gave the necessary stimulus for the export of cotton from Mumbai’s mills and a wave of prosperity set in. It was decided to constitute a trust to administer the affairs of the port of Mumbai because the colonial government believed that the interests of trade were becoming endangered by the monopoly of private companies that levied wharfage and dues at their sole discretion. Those like the Elphinstone Land and Press Company, formed in 1858, carried out the reclamation of 250 acres from the sea in exchange for providing 100 acres to the Government for the terminus of the Great Indian Peninsula station (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). The Government of Mumbai urged the Government of India to regain possession of the harbour by vesting it in the hands of a public trust. The BPT act of 1873 provided for the creation of a corporation under the name of the trustees of the port of Mumbai in whom was vested the management of the properties acquired by the government with powers to levy dues. During the first 30 years of its existence, the trust carried out extensive reclamations to the tune of 1000 acres from Sewri Bunder in the north to

Facing page Unlikely neighbours: A climb atop Sewri’s colonial fort gives you a glimpse of a sprawling landscape of Sewri’s mangroves and and mudflats with chemical industries in the background. The future of Mumbai will demand better strategies to integrate historical structures and ecologically sensitive zones of the waterfront within the expanding urban fabric, while simultaneously opening these areas for public spaces

Bottom Silent spectator: Sewri Fort is a beautiful yet inaccessible remnant of the city’s past. Its moss-covered walls and damp courtyards are the sole spectators to one of the most spectacular landscapes of the city: the Sewri mangroves

Carcass: This jetty is a landscape of orphaned ships and boats that find their final destination in this serene, beautiful and decaying infrastructure of the city

Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 109


Top Re-usable landscapes of the future: Rainclouds hover above the docks that continue their daily activities

Right The new frontier: The city’s ever rising density and uninterrupted construction is seen from the docks of Bhaucha Dhakka

Apollo and Colaba Bunders in the south. By 1912, the total area of the Port Trust docks and estates amounted to 1/8th of the land of the Mumbai island city. Apart from dry and wet docks, in 1915, much of the land was occupied by great cotton and grain depots designed to be integrated with the Trust’s own internal railway system. These were supplemented by iron and coal storage warehouses. By 1967, the dearth of space and depth were beginning to reflect on port revenues. Modernisation in shipping and containerisation required deep water berths of up to 35-40 ft and larger areas for custommade handling equipment. The Bombay Port was limited with a draught depth of 32 ft. Mumbai’s problems were further complicated by the fact that it was an island port, sitting at the edge of one of the most densely populated cities of the world with no possibility of acquiring more land. Further, the current road and railway traffic in the city, already saturated by suburban passenger traffic, left little room for movement of cargo from and to the hinterland. The idea of establishing a satellite port began to take root. In1989, a new port called the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) was set up at Nhava Sheva with the intent of decommissioning BPT activities. JNPT’s ability to handle modern, deeper draught vessels, the latest equipment, less contestation with roads and rail commuter traffic and a presence on the 110 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

The state government has actually opposed the expansion of the ‘old’ port, on the grounds that the city needs its space

Why is the main planning agency, the MMRDA, not involved in the planning of the Transharbour sea link?

mainland meant lower costs and higher efficiency in handling cargo, which diverted a large part of the traffic from the BPT. Further, the Industrial Relocation Policy of 1980 and the closing of cotton mills around the same time caused a drop in the demand for port activities attached to the city. This has led to a major disuse of large tracts of BPT land. According to a published study, almost 45% of the land equaling 836 acres is underutilised and in decline. Moreover, almost 50% of the land is leased to various agencies on long leases and deadlocked in legal suits leading to a decay of prime property. These leases range from 15 months or longer; some have been renewed for 33 years. The BPT however continues in its drive to stay relevant. It comes under the Central Government’s Shipping Ministry and believes that it doesn’t have any land to spare as it is going in for major expansion. The state government has actually opposed the expansion of the ‘old’ port, on the grounds that the city needs its space. Real estate values in areas parallel to the trust land, the increasing saturation of rail traffic and the serious dearth of public space in the city point to the inefficiency of land usage in the Mumbai peninsula, a large portion of which is due to the underutilisation of these 1800 acres. The deindustrialisation of cities in general and Mumbai in particular demand the re-examination of land use in the overall context of the city. The presence of a defunct and inefficient port seems irrelevant in the context of the city’s more urgent need to solve problems of housing, transportation and public space. What is more pressing is the slow

and surreptitious ways in which piecemeal portions of land are being rationed out for uses that are highly questionable. Why are floating islands and ferris wheels a priority in a city that houses 60% of its population in the slums? Why is the main planning agency, the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority), not involved in the planning of the Transharbour sea link, a project that is now in the hands of infrastructure agency MSRDC (Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited)? Why, even after a six-year delay and the economic unviability of an off-shore container terminal, is the BPT going forward with its plans? Most importantly, why is there an absolute lack of sound bites regarding an area of land equaling almost a quarter of the city’s entire area? Mumbai’s last ‘frontier’ offers possibilities to a space-starved city that passed up several chances for equitable development and witnessed public land being transferred into private hands. This time, however, the scale of the land area in question and the possibilities it offers, demand a higher level of responsibility and accountability both from the public and the bureaucracy. Architect, Urban Planner and Activist Charles Correa’s ‘Great city, terrible place’, asks for one more chance to refocus its geography as a peninsula and reclaim its right to be a liveable city. References: The Port of Bombay: A Brief History: Issued by the Trustees of the Port of Bombay, 1974 Tides of Time: History of the Mumbai Port by M.V. Kamath, 2000 A Study of the Eastern Waterfront of Mumbai, UDRI, KRVIA, 2000 Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 111


The Grand Elephant


Famous French novelist Jules Verne called Nantes, France, his home. Hélène Leriche showcases the fantastical redevelopment that incorporates heritage and fantasy to market this culturally rich city


ocated on the site of the former shipyards emblematic of the industrial and port heritage of the city, extraordinary machines are being built inspired by the works of Nantes’ famous son Jules Verne. ‘Les Machines de l’île’ monumental mechanical structures imagined by François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice - is an unprecedented artistic project that is open to the public.

An urbAn redevelopment The 337-hectare Île de Nantes, located in the heart of the city along the banks of the Loire River, is a huge area undergoing redevelopment. This plan, designed by the team of Alexandre Chemetoff, urban planner and architect, respects the principles of sustainable development and expresses the diversity of both the population and the architecture. The Machines project highlights this essential component of Nantes’ history by blending technology and poetry to give it new life. Nantes Métropole wanted to give a new vocation to the 112 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

site of the former shipyards while still respecting its past. An originAl Artistic proposAl The first machines came to life in 2007 with the Grand Elephant’s first stroll and a public visit to the Galerie des Machines. In 2012, the opening of the Carrousel des Mondes Marins was the result of the work initiated since the inauguration based on the theme of the sea. Today, the Arbre aux Hérons (Herons’ Tree) is on display and offers a taste of projects to come. From sketches that call to mind the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci to the machines in operation, the entire creative process is presented in a magical site, which resembles both a laboratory and an exhibit. the grAnd elephAnt When it walks out of the warehouses, this majestic, 12-metre (40 ft.) high animal will be carrying 50 passengers on board. It is like architecture in motion leaving a steel cathedral for an amazing journey.

extraordinary machines are being built inspired by the works of nantes’ famous son Jules verne

Left: The formal industrial warehouses of the Ile de Nantes

Right: The prototype branch of the Arbre aux Hérons stretches out of the facade of one of the warehouses and takes people down to the public square. This branch (20 metric tons and 20 m/65 ft. long) is the first part of the monumental tree ‘Arbre aux Hérons’

freNch writer Jules VerNe Verne was born on February 8, 1828 in Nantes, France. At 19, Verne went to Paris hoping to become a lawyer. But he was much more interested in story writing. Verne met playwrights Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, writer of The Three Musketeers, who offered him writing advice. His first book, Five Weeks in a Balloon, was published in 1863. Verne went on to write science-fiction and adventure classics Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and Around The World In 80 Days among the more than 80 books, short stories, essays, poems and plays he wrote in his lifetime. He died on March 25, 1905 in Amiens. One of his works Paris in the 20th Century would be published 84 years later. Originally written in 1863 about a man living in a world of skyscrapers, high-speed trains, cars and calculators, but his publisher had thought the story too pessimistic and refused to print it.

Being on the back of the Great Elephant is like being on the 4th floor of a travelling house, with a breathtaking view of the former shipyards. In this carriage, the passengers travel out of time to the imaginary world of Jules Verne in the city where he was born.

the Machines project highlights this essential component of Nantes’ history by blending technology and poetry to give it new life

New life iN the warehouses Located on the western tip of the Ile de Nantes – the Prairie-au-Duc – across from the Quai de la Fosse, these huge iron, concrete and steel warehouses were built in the early 20th century to house the metalworking shops of the Chantiers de la Loire shipyards. Until their closure in 1987, they were the mainstay of Nantes’ shipbuilding industry. The rehabilitation of the warehouses safeguards and showcases the history of the shipyards, a symbol of the industrial and maritime culture of Nantes. Les Machines de l’île have revived the warehouses, which have been transformed into a new public space for the city (partner architects Concordet and Theilmann). the arbre aux héroNs One of Les Machines de l’île’s major projects, the Herons’ Tree, will be a steel tree 50 m (164 ft.) in diameter and 35 m (115 ft.) high, topped by two herons. Once complete, visitors will be able to walk from branch to branch (22 branches in total)

in the amazing hanging gardens and take a ride under the herons’ wings. This project is currently under study. seaworld The vibrant imagination related to the sea is limitless and shared by everyone, especially by the inhabitants of Nantes. The fishing world or the one of long-distance journeys have put men at the heart of all maritime adventures. Great navigators or pirates, Captain Ahab or Némo pervade our imagination. A sunset on the ocean, the beauty of the silent world collides with the fear of the deep sea and of monsters from the abyss. The adventure of the Machines is part of a performing arts culture that is emblematic of the Nantes area, based on street arts that Nantes residents have become familiar with over the past 15 years. Today, Delarozière and Orefice have created a magical world using a language that Nantes residents appreciate and which fits in with the larger history of the industrial port city open to the sea and nourished by dreams of far-off places. For a city is also built around the collective imagination of its people. With Les Machines de l’île, Nantes asserts itself as a place of destination, to be characterised as a landing location, a place where you make your way to because attractiveness is a factor for growth and for the creation of activities. Jan-Mar 2015 • MY LIVEABLE CITY | 113

PhotograPhS: BrUCE EChBErg

CULTURE CORNER>Urban CORNER>Amstredam Delight city

Paddington Reservoir, Oxford Street, Sydney, Australia Contributed by Bruce Echberg The reservoir was built in central Sydney in two stages from 1866 to store water below the ground to supply to the surrounding area. It was decommissioned as a reservoir in 1899 and put to use as a garage and store. its heritage value. In 2006 a team3led by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer 1 The City of Sydney, which owns the site, recognised 2 Architects was commissioned to develop a design that preserved the heritage fabric while allowing the re-use of the site as a new public park to complement the surrounding new housing and the adjoining commercial streetscapes. The park’s design maintains most of the old structures. Sections of the former roof were opened to create a series of sunken gardens and new street level gardens were developed over a section of the reservoir where a second chamber remains intact and is used for events. The project is exquisitely detailed with contemporary new elements such as stairs and pavements avoiding confusion between the old and the new. Completed in 2009, this project has won numerous heritage, landscape and urban design awards including the Australia Award for Urban Design 2009. 114 | MY LIVEABLE CITY • Jan-Mar 2015

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My Liveable City Magazine Best practices, ideas and possibilities of improved city living from around the world and India and intended for...


My Liveable City Magazine Best practices, ideas and possibilities of improved city living from around the world and India and intended for...