A Group of well-known architects from Bandra, Mumbai including The Busride, Samir D’monte Architects, Sameep Padora & Associates (sP+a), Urban Studio, Abraham John Architects, Architecture BRIO have come up with the innovative solution to declutter the urban spaces of Mumbai. Starting from the famous Bhaji Gali, the group has already on its way to create safer urban city post Pandemic. Read SURFACES REPORTER (SR) complete report on this.
The coronavirus has radically changed our previous urban structures in many ways. The desperate need to be at a physical distance of six feet has made everyone wonder about our markets and how they should be shaped for future. Lockdowns being enforced across the globe have thrown the world’s two-billion informal workers into turmoil particularly, the street vendors, whose livelihoods rely on being in public spaces. Some cities and countries have allowed trading to go on, with serious adjustments to their work and home life.
According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, there are around 10 million street vendors in India, whose business has severely suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Mumbai accounts for 250,000 street vendors, Delhi for 450,000, Kolkata, more than 150,000, and Ahmedabad, 100,000. While the government came up with different schemes, a certain non profit organization took it under their responsibilities to come up with a design solution for future.
The Spatial Future post COVID
The causes and subsequent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has already been and will be the subject of many discussions, reports & research projects in the future to come. These undoubtedly need to fuel thinking about the ways we inhabit our world, the fragility of our lives and its implications on socio-economic, political, cultural, human equity and environmental networks. This kind of thinking undeniably needs to be the long game but there is need however to urgently consider the short term as well.
Proposed development of the Carter Road park | Image Credit- Courtesy of the Bandra Collective
For many of us experiencing the lockdown and social distancing, our worlds have shrunken to the scale of our immediate environments namely the rooms we inhabit (for those of us fortunate enough to have a home) and to the spaces that we buy our daily essentials from. There is no mistaking the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures to mitigate its spread have restructured our engagement with our spatial environments. However, the easing of these measures is imminent and it is critical for us to focus on the immediate spatial futures post the lockdown and the strategies that will be needed to use public spaces once more.
The spatial implications of COVID have created the need for a new framework for the collective use of public spaces and buildings. This new framework will need to manifest as guidelines implied through formal interventions to ensure social distancing while collective usage of space.
What is Bandra Collective?
The Bandra Collective Team
Bandra Collective, a not-for profit urban design think-tank is a collaboration of six architectural firms, based in Mumbai, who seek to transform public spaces through design thinking. Consists of renowned architecture and design firms including The Busride, Samir D’monte Architects, Sameep Padora & Associates (sP+a), Urban Studio, Abraham John Architects and Architecture BRIO,the group noticed that markets and street vendors required to be reorganized in effective ways to guide the shoppers to safely obtain essential goods. All the six architects or architectural firms in the Bandra Collective side in Bandra, the western suburb of Mumbai, to create discussion-to-action effects while wanting to not be named.
The 6 Modules Suggested by Bandra Collective
When COVID-19 hit Mumbai, they came up with sixmodules of short-term post-lockdown initiatives to focus on the immediate spatial futures. These are reactive but easy, economical, scalable and modular design interventions that can be adopted by various public places in different combinations, especially markets to help maintain safety and distance. This process of planning and designing the modules began in the start of May and the first implementation began around the start of June.
Vikhroli street redesign project | Image Credit- Courtesy of the Bandra Collective
What are the Six Modules?
The Bandra Collective has brought several modules which can be put together at different urban public spaces in order to maintain safety in the early periods post lockdown. The suggested modules include:
Click each of the modules to know the possible locations where these modules can be used.
What’s the Latest BMC Project They Have for Revamp?
As of now, work has started at Bhaji Gali, Grant Road, D Ward under Asst Commissioner Prashant Gaikwad and Sub Engineer Rahul Kolhe. Mrs. Jyotsnaben Mehta, Corporator has been instrumental in ensuring implementation in this ward too. In the coming weeks, Bandra Collective aims to scale up in D ward implement at August Krant Maidan as well as outside markets located at Napeansea Road and Walkeshwar.
The circles painted at Bhaji Galli, Grant Road
At Bhaji Gali, they are looking at implementing a strategically designed circular grid, with additional demarcated walking space in between, complemented by effective signage that communicate its usage to the pedestrians.
Sanitisation stations will be added at regular intervals and marshals appointed by the BMC will ensure that these interventions are optimally used. Pali Market, having a similar context as Bhaji Gali, will follow a similar strategy for implementation.
They are also in communication with the Municipal Councillor, Asif Zakaria, H West Ward and will begin implementation at Pali Market Street soon.
The strategies are simple, economical and scalable and are open to implementing them at markets and public spaces across Mumbai. Further their approach also aligns with the recent press advisory released by MoHUA requesting million plus cities to pedestrianize market places.
The Transformation of Pali Market
Practical usage of the post lockdown modules
According to Bandra Collective design interventions including social distancing furniture post lockdown would be needed within but not limited to:
1. Vegetable Markets
2. Commercial streets
4. Pavements on arterial, collector and local roads
6. Train station
7. Bus Stands & Bus Stops
8. Public Buildings
9. Reuse redundant building
10. Parking Areas
11. Hawking Zones
12. Train & Bus Carriages
Questions From the Bandra Collective Team
SR: Here, Surfaces Reporter discusses with the Bandra Collective their plans for Bandra and the immediate future while we learn to live with the coronavirus.
BC: Post lockdown, as pedestrians slowly begin to pour out the streets, it is extremely important to help them intuitively maintain distance from one another and ensure overall safety. To just put out signs with text is hugely ineffective. Instead, they believe that simple tactical design measures are way more communicative in guiding people and have based the design of the modules on this understanding.
SR: Holistically, if all of them are implemented, what are the advantages to the public?
BC: If all the modules are thus implemented, the advantages are two-fold; first it will put in place a self-regulating system to maintain distance comprised of vendors, shop owners and shoppers in market places who obey simple rules based on the design interventions communicated via explanatory signages (designed in collaboration with Saurav Roy). This will reduce contact and chaos & maintain sanitization and in public spaces. Second, as these interventions help decongest the space, the digital application will help decongest people over ‘time’ – encouraging citizens to check the live feed of public spaces before going would empower them to know the risks before hand and make informed decisions.
SR: Why do you call this project an ‘intervention’?
BC: Our project falls under the realm of ‘Tactical Urbanism’. It’s a quick solution to an urban issue which is retrofit on existing infrastructure. We are intervening in what is existing to improve the conditions in simple and effective ways and that’s why, the industry terminology for such a project, would be an ‘intervention’. We use the word positive connotation. Our interventions while proposed in public space can also be modified and appropriated for new market buildings that the BMC is in the process of fitting out and perhaps it can be argued that it is even more imperative in these spaces where there might be little access to natural light, ventilation and adequate physical space.
Carter Road park revitalised by the Bandra Collective Image Credit- Courtesy of the Bandra Collective
SR Special Note:
Post Covid as we redesign and rethink the spatial approach applied to our homes, we need to put an equal—if not more—attention on the markets and streets. The vendors at places such as Bhaji Gali, Pali Market or the over-crowded food streets of any metro cities are in dire need of expert architects. We need more organizations or individuals like Bandra Collective to come up to the rescue. These vendors are depended on the street markets and a huge number of people are depended on them. We need to see closely what can be done to restore a safe environment in these markets as we fight with COVID.
What changes do you think architects can bring post-Covid for the street vendors?Share your thoughts with us below in the comment section.
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Image courtesy: The Bandra Collective
Information provided by: The Bandra Collective