Awards: Shortlisted in ‘Top 20 international dissertation projects’ at Tamayouz International Architecture Graduation Projects Award (2022) | Citation for Best Thesis by KRVIA, Mumbai University (2022) | Special Mention in Architecture Thesis of the Year, Mango Architecture (2021) | Shortlisted for Charles Correa Gold Medal Award for Best Design Dissertation (2021)
Excerpt:Constructing Eudemonia, an architecture design thesis by Asmita Patnaik from Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA), Mumbai, attempts to create a shift in the way we perceive our cities by using the perceptions and narratives of people, understood through interviews or personal experiences, to create an environment that generates eudemonia. As part of the design thesis, Lower Parel Station Complex was imagined as a public park that provides opportunities for improving eudemonic well-being, an urban space that comprehensively unites different uses to create moments of pause and interaction.
Introduction: Triggered by the student’s personal experience of living in Mumbai and the palpable urban stress experienced daily, the design thesis maps the experiential exploration of the city as a response to the urban movements and their invisible facets in our daily lives.
The city is constantly negotiating with growing urbanism and a loss of quality of life and wellbeing due to the socially incohesive development that is taking place. The quality of life and eudemonic well-being have become two of the most crucial issues in contemporary Mumbai. The global phenomenon of rapidly transforming cities has led to an incremental condition of negligent and disintegrated neighbourhoods within the city. Mumbai is extensively motivated by economic and governmental forces. The root of urban implications has sunk deep into the city structure, thus creating a need for precise solutions for everyday experiences in the city.
The dissertation project defines Urban happiness, or eudemonia, as a concept that gives people a positive perception of a place and improves its desirability. The research explores the urban environment as an experience that has an emotional stimulus. From this exploration of experience in a spatial setting, the importance of creating pro-social spaces in the construction of joy came through, where the possibility of improving wellbeing lies in creating desirable, varied opportunities to savour a pause and restore balance in the everyday transects.
Within this narrative, a person’s movement in the city often becomes very controlled within the work-live transect, making it the most critical node to create a third space that encapsulates joy. As a response to which transect (railway stations) along the key business district was studied.
Lower Parel, a mixed-use precinct, was chosen as the intervention site due to its sporadic nature of urban growth, which makes the experience of even a 10-minute walk in the precinct stressful, with the main intervention being at the railway station, which anchors the precinct. Lower Parel represents the pulse of the city, which is always out of time.
As one of the most crowded stations in the city, with its derelict and inadequate infrastructure, the station becomes a point of extreme urban stress and chaos. Thus, the station, along with its adjacent abandoned rail yard, was imagined as the key space of intervention to generate moments of pleasure as pause points within the everyday.
The station complex was imagined as a public park that provides opportunities for improving eudemonic well-being, an urban space that comprehensively unites different uses to create moments of pause and interaction.
The approach to the dissertation inquiry was nonlinear and established by a collective and comprehensive evaluation method formed by reviewing various literature around Urban Happiness and its environmental criteria. Obtained through a series of case studies and analysis, the results led to a list of principles, A Eudemonia Toolkit, which can be viewed as a yardstick for ethics, planning, and design decisions. To create an environment that facilitates eudemonic factors such as opportunity for economic growth, freedom of movement, and accessibility, access to green-blue spaces as well as spaces that encourage prosocial interaction were taken into consideration.
The analysis led to the relevance of ‘Pause to Interact in the daily work-live paradigm that constricts all of us. The thesis studied the urban movement in Mumbai as a series of discontinuous factions with a focus on stress and existing pause points, with analysis at the Urban scale and the Human scale to trigger Eudemonia. The research concludes with the study of developing Lower Parel Station Precinct as a transit-oriented nexus, which could improve the eudemonic wellbeing of the precinct and trigger a positive balance for the city at large.
Within the various urban polyrhythms,
We seem to forget what life is all about.
It does not take a lot to capture joy –
It is an emphasis on the quality of the environment
rather than its quantity or efficiency.
It is about creating opportunities to savour a pause
Building a sense of relief to the everyday stress
and restoring a balance within the daily transects.
The Lower Parel station complex was imagined as a large public park that provides opportunities for improving eudemonic wellbeing and an urban space that comprehensively unites different uses to create moments of pause and interaction. The project lies in its transitional interface, exploring ways to amplify and alleviate the issues of stress and social isolation.
Wellbeing can only be achieved when people have control over their daily routines and experiences; thus, the design is imagined as varied trails through the structure, each with its own speed setting (as explained in the miniatures) and sequential experience.
The ambition of the study was merely to create a shift in the way we perceive our cities by using the perceptions and narratives of people, understood through interviews or personal experiences, to create an environment that generates eudemonia. It was a response to day-to-day adversity due to poor infrastructure that doesn’t aid urban growth and generates a perpetual state of frustration and placelessness.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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