The Inception of colonial CITY
An agrarian economy. An inception of its new colonial capital. It’s 100 years now since New Delhi has celebrated itself as the capital of pre and post independence era. It was thoughtfully conceived as a tabula rasa based on the utopian idea of Ebenzer Howard’s Garden city concept (1898). A mark of establishment, a point of arrival for the British Power to build a new city near the ancient city of Old Dilli which transcended into a new language of urban design and architecture in India. From the streets of Shahjahanabad to Raisina Hill was clear in the vision of E.L.Lutyen (1912). It was envisaged as a self contained town. Contrary to the Old Dilli, wide open streets and lush green open spaces with buildings reflecting authority and colonial power were laid out. However, while implanting the concept of Garden city, the British eliminated an important component: the setting i.e. India and its context. A metamorphosis was required, a hybrid plan had to be executed. The nature of architecture had to transform. The British missed out on social and economic factors that one can easily identify and see in the by lanes of Old Dilli. The experiential dimension of a specific place, interpersonal public spaces cultivating culture and exchange; the human scale of the interlocking streets, the blushing everyday life rendered over a neutral urban landscape; a sample of Indian city life.
NExT investigates within the architectural domain, the genetic code of the urban block set in Lutyens’ New Delhi that can infuse the potential nature of agrarian India as an answer to Indian agro-urban life. A hybrid typology of a building hinted through the factual history for a promising and sustainable future.
Consumption as a Character
Delhi has a unique character. It has always been a city of cities. Every new intervention in the cityscape has been absorbed by Delhi as its own autonomous component and has enveloped around it. In the modern era, as a result of globalization and urban migration, farmlands in the suburbs have been consumed by hyper-chaotic conglomerations supporting the dimension of a megapolis to the ever increasing city. This organized chaos, a byproduct of the act of consumption has become a symptomatic feature characterized by various issues, one of which is the development of slums.
EMERGENCE OF NEW CITY - SLUMS
A result of urban migration. Emergence of new opportunities in cities and non favorable agrarian conditions in the economy has led to chaotic conglomerations interdependent with the functioning of the city. These are what we refer to as slums which constitute the 4% demographics of the city of Delhi. As per the sectoral composition of State Domestic Product of Delhi (2007-08), Government of Delhi, the primary sector (agrarian) is 0.69% and the tertiary sector occupies a massive 79.05%, predominantly occupied by 60% of people living in slum contributing services such as petty trade and vending, transport services (autos, cycle rickshaws, taxis), services (housekeepers, mechanics, plumbers, cobblers, sweepers and other odd-jobbers), manufacturing and construction (as semi-skilled or skilled labour especially in the small sector), and as casual labour which help the city function. The Capital City virtually runs with this human capital. As striking as it may be, this sprawl is strongly related to farming. The slums dwellers are already skilled in the primary sector but transform themselves into semi-skilled and participate in contribution of the tertiary sector.
Slums are a condition unanswered by the urban citizens but slums are no shame. Informal slum settlements demonstrate a more sustainable way of urban life than affluent sprawling suburbs. They are potential incubators already adopting sustainable measures such as less ground footprint, reuse of materials, flexible layout, however lacking a quality of life and hygienic facilities. The dwellers come from various parts of India carrying with them the rich and variegated culture and making this contained space a city within a city, pulsating and thriving.
THE NExT City
NExT entraps the potential of slum as a settlement and its available human resource into creating a hybrid city -living- farmland typology, an environment familiar to its denizens, one that can coexist and contribute to the food grid of the city as well as its existing participatory nature with the tertiary sector. A prototype revitalizing slum land into something NExT which cultivates India and its cultural roots, an autonomous self sustained farm based eco-city easily multiplying as a counter sprawl within limits.
Status: Competition Entry
Location: New Delhi, IN
My Role: team architect