Making the World and thoughts on City planning

Being a designer, one of the biggest design assignment that you can hope to work on, is the world. However, that job has been already earmarked to “God” with special powers with none with as much talent! :). The rest of us are left to work on the habitable places and create cities, homes, things that go into the homes, things that we wear or how we travel. We can also design the processes which help us to live this life better or more comfortably.

Last week, we studied about five cities and how they developed. Cities, which are the physical representations of need of people to live and work together, create a safe and social environment; have today grown to some place other than that.We took Eixample, a district in Barcelona. Eixample means “extension”, designed by architect, Cerde.

Ildeforns Cerde succeeded in building a plan for a city in that has found itself today after a 150 years as one of the most dense in the world in terms of population (351 people per hectare), dwellings( 230 dwellings per hectare)  and car (140 cars per hectare), with the least amount of private space. His idealized version of a road with chamfered edges created to provide ease of movement of carriage ways, has been challenged by the behavior of the citizens and their growing need of parking spaces who use the open space provided by the plan for double parking of  40% vehicles on the street. He perhaps never imagined how the horse carriages, people & bicycles would be replaced by traffic so dense and the noise it brings to its millions of residents of its numerous apartment blocks.  But then forecasting for 100 years over itself is challenging.

eixample _traffic

The open space left by him intentionally has today become of sea of traffic separating each  mid rise apartment block from the other. Crossing a street from one block to another effortlessly is supposedly a challenge, much less amble or cycle effortlessly as depicted in this 1908 video. However, close by is “The Rambles”,a lively street, which is connected to Eixample.

arterial_roads_eixampleThen my mind wandered off to Renaissance fortress city Palmanova, which was designed circular. Mumbai too, which is extended linearly top and bottom and now is exploring eastwards. Its brought me strong appreciation for Lutyens Delhi. The New Delhi area here is rather well designed with a circle of greenery between each block. Whatever may have been the suburban catastrophe, is balanced by the “clean and green” design of Central Delhi. Just one wish, that they complete the metro work soon, so that we can live to appreciate it.