Excerpt: Transit-Oriented Development Project at metro station precinct at Haiderpur Badli is an urban design project by Laxmi, Prathamesh, Saket & Vatsala, students of School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. The proposal aims to provide the highest priority to the pedestrians throughout the site connected through the urban plaza, with an integrated humanized mixed-use typology creating public interaction through the retail streets. The design provides a pedestrian-emphasized retail street that connected the site’s edges to the metro station. Greenery and landscaping play a key role in the development, with courtyards, gardens, and buildings interiors filled with plants nestled throughout.
(“Text as submitted by student”)
With urbanization and ever-increasing population, cities are increasingly becoming denser and less humanized. The number of registered motor vehicles in India has increased 700 times, from 0.3 million in 1951 to 210 million in 2015. (‘LAP for Transit: IllustratedHandbook for Indian Cities’, 2020) Due to the increasing number of vehicles, cities have started catering more to cars than humans. Hence, for our Urban Design project, we were assigned to propose a transit-oriented development on the plot next to the Haiderpur Badli Metro Station, New Delhi. The design intention was to create a public plaza where design principles were integrated, such as accessibility by foot, creation of image and identity, provision of destinations and attractions, flexibility within the designs, and the inclusion of inner and outer squares.
On a site of 10 hectares, 2 hectares were segregated for mandatory green. At the same time, the rest was divided among Social Infrastructure (10%), Office (28%), Hotel (14%), Service Apartment (5%), Housing (30%), and EWS housing (10%). Our proposal aims to provide the highest priority to the pedestrians throughout the site connected through the urban plaza, with an integrated humanized mixed-use typology creating public interaction through the retail streets.
The site lies in zone-H in New Delhi, directly connected to the Ring Road. In contrast, secondary roads connect the site to the two major settlements, Badli Village and Ambedkar Village. The site has an active northwest edge abutting the metro station. The western edge witnesses a much narrower arterial road presently encroached upon by the slum residents and is not accessible by vehicles.
The site falls next to the railway line, opposite the drain. The site’s immediate context also represents the prominent land use to be residential followed by industrial area in Badli. Since the site has low-rise buildings, designing high-rise development gave the project a unique identity as a landmark. Activity mapping of the site was done to understand various user groups and their utilization of the space in the present, which also directed our design.
Due to heavy traffic on the active front edge, the design initiative was to provide entry from the east, where the traffic was lesser. The site study also identified that the Vardhman Plaza, a retail complex near the site, failed to garner attention for commercial activities. As a result, an open public hub with commercial activity was required in a dense urban residential area as the site.
As Jacobs (1992) suggested, the streets are not only the means of commercial activities but also social interactions. The architectural aim was to create a public plaza by retaining green space, designing retail pedestrian axes heading to the cultural centre located at the intersection, and providing pedestrians a visual orientation. The axes also ensured that pedestrians had the quickest approach to the metro station.
The office block was kept close to the metro station for the zoning to provide a direct connection. At the same time, the hotel and service apartment were placed on the other side of the axis, with a separate entry for its banquet activities. The housing cluster was designed so larger units such as 4BHK and 3BHKs faced either the retail axis or the internal courtyard for better views. The EWS units were provided with their internal courtyard, which is also connected to the housing courtyard, so they have a space of their own. The mandatory green spaces are placed as per the present usage by the locals, not to take away the public spaces.
For the final design outcome, we succeeded in providing a pedestrian-emphasized retail street that connected the site’s edges to the metro station. We created internal courts for all the functions linked through podiums, creating a sense of connection within the various functions. The cultural center acts as the landmark within the site, embodying major public functions such as the auditorium and food court.
The cultural center is a cube with a projected mass on its podium level, used as an outdoor exhibition space. The office is divided into two zones; single user and multi-user. The atrium acts as the connector for the five floors in single-user. In the case of a multi-user, the central core is utilized to serve the various floors. Hotel and service apartments are clubbed together but have different lobbies. The hotel lobby is also directly connected to the retail axis, which displays the direct relationship of functions with the retail pedestrian axis. The hotel’s upper floors have restaurants, retail, a business center, recreation areas, and a banquet hall. The elevational materials for both the office and have earthy tones whereas the cultural center being a landmark, has perforated metal skin.
The EWS housing has its own open green space on the ground, while the upper floors have decentralized and fragmented triple-heighted spaces for the social congregation. With varying heights, the terrace of one block becomes the landscaped garden area for another. Greenery and landscaping play a key role in the development, with courtyards, gardens, and buildings interiors filled with plants nestled throughout.
In our design, the ‘retail street’ acts as this active pedestrian frontage providing quality public spaces to benefit people by offering leisure and living areas and potentially boosting the local economy.
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