Hey everyone! I’m back from my research trip to India (with a surprisingly educational 3 day layover in London). I’m really excited to start sharing my thoughts and experiences!
One thing I will say, is that there was an unbelievable amount of “WHAT are you doing in India?!” and “To study pure chaos, eh?” replies when I told people that I’m an urban planning student. I was actually surprised at just how well planned parts of the cities were, and how much better I tended to like the non-planned areas. Lutyen’s Delhi? Oh, a great many thoughts on that have I…
The rest of this summer is going to be doing the actual book research, so expect some actual posts from me soon!
How are you all? Anyone doing any research or doing internships this summer?
Thanks to everyone who gave an intro on this post- if you haven’t already, please do! I love hearing from you!
I just finished Winter quarter and I am now officially on Spring Break! Now that I have some downtime, I have to hurry and plan my 2-3 week research trip to Mumbai & Delhi this June. I’m going to be looking at the urban form and urban use across class strata in both cities, but I would like to check out any urban
and Bollywood related things that I can!
Any suggestions of what I should check out/investigate/experience/blog about while I’m there?
I just got notified that I was one of five winners of Knowlton School of Architecture’s Architecture Research Travel Award this year!!!!
I only saw the notification for the call-for-submissions the day before it was due, so I had to hurry and throw together a 3 page travel proposal, detailed schedule and budget, plus transcripts and resume, etc (This is why it’s good to have such things on hand!) It could have been for up to 30 days but I wasn’t sure how much money they usually gave so I got played it safe and just planned a 2 city trip for about 11 days or so (though I would LOVE to spend a full month in India!) I have been obsessively refreshing my mail box every waking moment, and today I got the email!
This summer I will be in Mumbai & Delhi, seeing if there is an “Indian urban form.” In Mumbai I will visit a village, the Dharavi Slum, Navi Mumbai (the planned satellite city that was supposed to help relieve congestion but just turned into a 2 million person commuter suburb) as well as
the neighborhoods my bollywood stars live in so I can hunt them down the enormously wealthy areas. I want to see if there is anything distinctly Indian that appears in the built environment regardless of class, or if they tend to “westernize” as they become wealthier.
I’m also going to spend some time in Delhi, comparing Old Delhi with New Delhi, which surprisingly has only about 200,000 people living in it, though it’s in a metro area of 11 million (!). New Delhi was planned by the British and is mostly for administration and business, so I also want to go see what the actual residential areas look like, because frankly, I haven’t the faintest clue. I never hear about anything other than Old & New Delhi!
I’ve been a biiiiiiiiiiit obsessed with India for the past, oh, 7 years, and I’ve even taught myself a fair amount of Hindi. So, as you can imagine, this is beyond a dream come true and I’m flipping out, in the best way possible. So excited!!!
First things first, I need to find the money to buy a good camera!! And I also made an incredibly ambitious reading list as part of my proposal, so I need to start getting my hands on those books, too!
Once upon a time, blogger Magali Mander says, Delhi used to have separate lanes for cyclists. But then, “the space was taken over by cars and planning was taken over by those who thought a modern city needed wide streets for cars rather than lanes for its inhabitants to walk on, or ride on their bikes.” Clearly, non-motorized transport needs to be prioritized in Indian cities, whether by constructing shaded walkways, elevated bike paths, or safer and well-maintained pavements.
The management and monitoring of a bicycle share program would likely be difficult in a city as large as Delhi. But there are perhaps lessons that can be drawn from the existing rickshaw sharing and rental industry. It would require city-wide infrastructure changes, such as installing bike racks, as well as educational outreach, like promoting road safety. It is also perhaps not something that can easily be afforded by the local government who are now tasked with many responsibilities. Distances that people travel in the city are often not short, but having cycle share systems that feed into the subway could be important.
Additionally, bike riding is not convenient to everyone; women in sarees for instance are unlikely to cycle, and people that are elderly, disabled and handicapped once again become excluded from the cycling program. Cultural norms exist and would have to be challenged. An extremely targeted but affordable scheme could form part of an entire package aimed at improving public health and mobility, with improvements to lighting, pavements and segregated cycle lanes.
There are also external inconveniences to consider—the sun, the dust in eyes—which means educating the public about wearing helmets or protective visors. Biking would need to come with a slew of its own ammenities to ensure safety, but it would be in the interest of the city and its overall health.
A cycle share program would have to be largely seasonal because in the summer, cycling is uncomfortable in the summer heat, as well as during the rains. But elevated bike routes and walking paths constructed with shading are a possible solution. Clearly, architects, planners and policymakers need to be in a dialogue with city’s citizens to explore these opportunities.
Interesting points on the difficulties of sharing good planning solutions across cultures and environments.