Sunday, January 9, 2011

‘Urban spaces’ in Gujarat? Look at medieval architecture first!

by Hemang Desai

That cities in Gujarat have grown, one can't deny. The question however, is: Is there a method to the 'madness'?
Money screams from different lanes, bylanes and corners, and the mall race remains unbeaten, its latest showcase being new-age architecture. While this new game (let's call it 'mall mania') is the 'bazaar's play' - builders and architects strictly - bystanders are left watching in mute participation.
Needless to say, our borrowing and learning from western technology works like any other borrowed work would. Hence, if architecture is the science or art of designing buildings, buildings in the urban spaces of Gujarat are yet to find a vocabulary. 
If 'urban' is defined in the sense of being 'civic-minded' or 'civilised', cities in Gujarat are certainly not urban spaces. Why?
Because they lack basics, including proper street lights, water and sanitation. What we're left with in the name of 'urban growth' is creating urban forests of meaningless and abundant realty, complete with a shabbiness that is not only undesirable but also illogical.

Ahmedabad's streetscape, photo by Meanest Indian

Ahmedabad's bus rapid transport system (BRTS), photo by Meanest Indian

Walking and cycling lanes in Ahmedabad, India, photo by Meanest Indian
more architectural articles:

Routes of Gothic

Albuquerque's Environmental Story

An Architectural Treasure: Miami’s Art Deco District

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