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The Emerging Essence of a Void in an Urban Fabric

Defining Emptiness

The Emerging Essence of a Void in an Urban Fabric Nandini Kaushik Master of Architecture // Thesis University of Cincinnati


The urban fabric of cities is changing at a fast pace. To meet the requirements of a modern society, the existing urban fabric requires catalysts that stimulate the potentials of the city of tomorrow. The Indian cities are expected to grow rapidly from 340 million people in 2008 to a whopping 590 million in 2030. Population growth and rapid urbanization in India combined have created huge challenges to overcome the depreciating standard of living in urban areas. Overcrowded cities, illegal buildings and disparity in the market owes large demands for the growing population. The acceleration has been creating voids and lost spaces that are underutilized. Reconsidering the voids in Indian cities, necessitates micro-scaled renewal methods to support public spaces and community development. The expanding cities need to adapt this change of unpacking the strengths of urban voids, by reclaiming and implementing its potentials in an existing urban fabric. The result is a healthy transformation of vacant lands to urban spaces that enhance the life of the city and its inhabitants. The reactivation weaves various public zones inspired by the street character in Indian cities. Integrating and unifying the neighborhood. The proposal attempts to re-choreograph the emptiness of a bypassed urban resource the site with its immediate urban fabric to enhance the life of the city and its inhabitants.

Bengaluru, like most Indian cities, has demonstrated tremendous potential in urban development ever since the industrial growth. Located in the southern Indian state of Karnataka and on a higher elevation, the city initially attracted many for its pleasant climate and gradually expanded over urbanization. Consequently, the city has been struggling to cope with pressure from rapidly increasing population. The project focuses on exploring and uncovering the potential of a vague site hidden in the continually growing urban fabric. Titled as ‘Defining emptiness’ of a void, where Emptiness denotes its disregarded original character and functionality of the space.

Not long ago, the streets of Bengaluru served as a transient space with wide footpaths partially used by street vendors and partially by pedestrians, serving as a place for interaction.

Streets Of Urban Cities In India

Unfortunately due to space constraints in the city, the exuberant streetscape has now been encroached by the growing vehicular traffic. The streets have now been compromised to accommodate parking of vehicles .

Compromised streets


1792- 1947

1809- 1947

Bengaluru fort

British reign

Growth of Textile industries

Like any other city in India, Bengaluru was once envisioned within a f governance. The establishment of textile industries in the city was development in public & IT sectors caused rapid urbanization making

History of Urbaniza

1947- 1980

1980’s- present

2014 - present

public sector development

Growth of IT sector


ort of 1 sq. mile. Gradually, it began to expand with the British the initial stage for the growth the city. After independence, g it a megacity of over 10 million population.

ation in Bengaluru

The growth of public and IT sector attracted migrants, causing deindustrialization and rapid urban growth that has lead to congestion, pollution, encroachment and negligence of water networks diminishing the value of the city.

Rapid urbanization

Strained R



Similar to the other vacant factories, there are many small and large scale sites in the city that have remained vacant and disregarded and have now been a victim to generate informal activities. Such buildings are left to deteriorate causing segregation within the neighborhood diminishing the quality of urban life. Which makes us wonder why are we struggling with congestion while vacant sites are found everywhere in the city?

Bengaluru road map

Today, the city has undergone major infrastructural changes and yet under such conditions one such large scale site still remains. After Indian independence, due to formation of public & private industries in the new industrial zone of the city, the textile mills in the old neighborhood started to decline. For years the site has remained vacant and secluded from the transforming urban fabric while the other sites nearby have been converted into malls.

The 20 acre textile mill currently isolated in the dense city has prevented its access due to its dense impermeable edge conditions. With the increase of nuclear families in the city, the boundary of the site is enclosed by residential zones of low rise and high rise residential blocks of different classes which has therefore, contributed to the segregation of the neighborhood as lower and higher class of the society. Yet the mill has remained still as the city grew around it.

Aerial view of th

he site

1945 growth





798 Art District, Beijing, China

Freedom park Ind

Case S

k, Bengaluru, dia


Granville island, Vancouver, Canada

Reconnection of the site with closely located main transportation hub generates an alternate pedestrian-friendly route through the site for the residents on the west.

Introvert HistoryMill reactivation

Neglected Waterway Waterway Recharge

Segregated Neighborhood Neighborhood Connection

From early studies some of the iterations aids in reconnecting the site boundary and existing structure with the intention to integrate various public and private zones weaving that embodies the site and its elements together.

Extrovert Mill

Reconnected Waterwa


Integrated Neighborhood

Edge Condition

Preliminary Desi

Internal space reactivation

gn Interventions

Preliminary collages attempting to reconnect the site internally and externally.

Program change

Roof as

s a way finder

Permeable edges

Blending different public and private programs into the nostalgic elements of the site is really to accentuate the diversity of the users.


m change



Work space

Public zone

Retail/ shopping

Textile display

Studios for local weavers

Local businesses


Street vendors

Weaving workshops

Textile playscape


Underground parking

The roof module is a shading element, a green roof and a support system for textile plays capes, engage pedestrians in an interactive system. Located in the hot weather zone, the sculptural roof provides shade and acts as a way finder to move across the large site.

The new pedestrian route breaks the monotony of the internal streetscape with diverse interactive activities. the roof guides the pedestrians across the spaces like resting area, play area , restaurants and temporary market cubicles for local businesses Further passing through other public spaces like textile play area and water scape leading to working spaces, such as the weaving studio and museum for textile display.

Resting area

Play area

Temporary market cubicles

Temporary market cubicles


Play area

Water scape

Weaving studio

Display area

Textile play scape

Resting area

Together, the new route translates similar street character creating constantly changing moments of interaction.

Resting area

Temporary market cubicles

Resting area

Water scape

Weaving studios

Resting area

The edge condition that blocked the visual and physical connection is now recovered by puncturing the hard edge and creating access through the site and its adjacencies.

Openings along the hard edges of the site that creates visual connection and moments of interaction

Carving out and deviating the foot traffic from the congested streets through soft edges of the site

Waterscape that initiate public life while moving across the site

Moments of interaction between transitory market cubicles and nostalgic permanent zones of the site.

Imagining the interior of the mill as a textile museum that constantly provides visual connection to the exterior

The design combines nostalgic elements of the site by anchoring it with stationery public spaces.

‘The vacant areas of the city can be intertwined with the design disciplines to imagine and conceptualize alternative public spaces. The abandoned lands need to be redeveloped and reabsorbed again as a productive spatial fabric of the city.’ A Glossary of Urban Voids, Sergio Lopez.

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Nandini Kaushik | Defining Emptiness  


Nandini Kaushik | Defining Emptiness  


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