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Guardians of the leftover city conceptualises the usage of leftover railway public lands to re­charge the degrading environment of the city. This project unifies the infrastructural leftovers into a panorama of environmentally sound landscapes that will readjust the lens of urban development in our cities. Our cities resonate with the ever-increasing burden of expansion entailing global threats of climate change. The attempt to accommodate this expansion has orchestrated the political and economic structure of our cities into an elaborate diegesis of dismissive capitalism, the reflection of which is pronounced on our natural landscapes quite literally. Vacancy in every form is cashed into profits of parochial businesses, unmindful of the disturbed environmental footprint which persists longer. However, this profound affirmation of economic gains of both the government and the people can mate with environmental sensitivity to rebuild a narrative of sustainable development in the long run.   

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Total infrastructural vacant land: 271 hectares

Railway vacant land: 194 hectares

The value of public land: RLDA has proposed to commercialize these vacant lands. But considering these vacant lands are public assets, what can be expected out of them? Instead of populating our cities with commercial multiplexes which are economic assets only to their private owners and exclusionary in terms of their usage, we must re-evaluate the purpose of such lands in the long run  and their potential role in  augmenting  the city’s sustainability quotient. 

The rise of the Vacant Lands: The adaptation of these infrastructural leftovers to   provide durable solutions against these crises is what should be the underlying principle of such repurpose projects.100 years down the line, the accomplishment of an ecologically responsible project weighed against the transience of a multiplex will be stronger and way more beneficial for the health and wealth of the city and its residents.

 
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The developments that would follow the construction of multiplexes on railway lands would result in an increase of impervious land cover in the form of new roads, parking space etc. The dynamics of the land market will also shift slowly and if not solved taking into consideration the interests of marginalised people, it would again result in unaffordability and creation of far more gentrified neighbourhoods

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The Multiplex Syndrome

 

What is the alternative?

 
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194 hectares of land instead of being commercialized into multiplexes should perform as environmental recharge points of the city. These lands should be used to provide the people of the city to experience a clean and pollution free environment which will benefit their health. The goal should be to limit temperatures that would benefit the overall environment of the city in a way that every inhabitant enjoys a healthier life while attempting to offset the carbon footprint of large scale infrastructure projects that generated these in the first place.

 

On an average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.

 

1 hectare= 4180 trees (spacing= 5 ft) 

Of 194 hectares, a total of 100 hectares to be planted with trees

Total number of trees= 4,18,000 trees

Oxygen produced= 10,86,800 pounds

100 hectares will provide fresh air to 8,36,000 people

Intent//
To repurpose railway vacant lands into recharging the degrading environment of the city, to give it back healthier and wealthier to its people.

 


Principles:

 
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Strategies:
-increased connectivity of public infrastructure to the
city
-pockets of public open space extended to vacant
lands

 


Inclusivity


Public Heath

Strategies:

-increase ecological value
-pockets of public open space extended to vacant lands
-humanize large scale of infrastructure

 


Ecology

Connectivity

Strategies:

-increase pervious cover
-green infrastructure
-pockets of public open space extended into vacant lands

 


Strategies:

-increased connectivity of public infrastructure to the city
-pockets of public open space extended to vacant lands
-well connected bicycle-pedastrian network with public transport


How can the site demonstrate these principles? What potentials does these lands in the city hold?

 
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The particular linear nature of these lands gives them the added accessible, connective mobility which makes them a potential public space running across the city. Greater emphasis should be put on the fact that these are public lands, governed by one major authority i.e Indian Railways. Partnership between two government authorities will further the interests of receiving economic profit out of these lands and also restore the lost ecological value of the city . Real Estate market can be a drive for reforestation of these lands with a healthy environment, proximity to public infrastructure (transport and water) as incentives. In 2018, Ahmedabad recorded a drop of 13.4% in forest cover, reduced to 117 sq km from 135 sq km. This project paired with the incentives of real estate can be a major influence in increasing forest cover inside the city by extending its principles into future developments.

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Local Context//

 
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The site is located near the Chimanbhai Patel bridge. The major connections to the site are New Ashram Rd, the north-south metro corridor, the riverfront, the railway and the Chimanbhai bridge.
The torrent power station lies along the railway track.
The peculiarity of the site is the existence of multiple infrastructural networks and the potential of connections they can form.

Chimanbhai Patel bridge

BRTS RTO Bus Stop

New Ashram Road

Metro Station

Torrent Powerhouse BRTS BusStop

 

Strategies: The fundamental logic of the strategies is to exploit the already existing potentials of the site with respect to the city. They can be broadly classified into two types: linear and point source. The linear connective tissue i.e the infrastructural lands is lined with extensive vegetation of different local species and a pedestrian and bicycle pathway for the public to experience such spaces. The point sources are developed into public spaces, situated at junctions which are also the access points for the city to these lands. 

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vegetation:filler

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The massive scale of transport infrastructure is sized down when viewed from the overhead bridge. The people now have a chance to experience the city and its nature at different levels

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The overhead bridge is connected to the vegetation for people to have a choice of what experience they want. The abundance of numerous local species can also be educational.

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stepped landscapes

vendor;seating;bicycle parking

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overhead pedastrian bridge connecting either side of the railway track

plantation and slope of land make quite spaces for public use under the bridge

decks on landings to make spaces for people to experience nature

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The lawns in between private and public land is used for activities related to both. The irregular shape of seating and ambiguity of a boundary enables these loose spaces to exist amidst the few constructed spaces. These spaces are used by vendors or people to park bicycles and also for mild plantations. These loose spaces are crucial to the structure of the public space since they help blend in two very distinct realms of urban space - public and private.

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Lopamudra Baruah | UD2017 | Urban Assemblies - The Vacancy Phenomenon
Bachelors in Urban Design | Faculty of Planning | CEPT University