Preserving Polyculture | jaimin bali

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Power and potential of Collective Urban Memory

Lack of policy and ownership disputes between government and the khedut association was the cause of greenbelt being vacant for about 30 years. During this period the city grew past the greenbelt and adapted to the land being vacant. Systems and activities have developed, ranging from everyday to seasonal, that cater to neighbourhood and regional scale. People playing cricket during morning or evening attracts hawkers and food vendors creating a system. Similarly, a fair or a festival market attracts such small businesses. Everyday uses of a land may vary from a playground to a karate training ground to a driving practice ground and for some it acts as a parking or space for vendors to set up their vegetable laaris. These activities, everyday or seasonal, have become the identity of that particular land where it is practiced. The polyculture of the site is being converted to dictating monocultural development defined with fixed uses that kills the plurality.

 

User defined land identities as stimulants for social reform

The identity of the same land parcel might differ from person to person but it is that activity or use that creates that identity. Mirchi Maidan, for neighbourhood residents, creates a mental image of the ground near Vadaj circle. It not only caters to the spice market but also acts as a playground or hold temporary yet repetitive activities such as a fair. Single land parcel holding multiple uses.

 

Since the dispute resolution in 2013, new development with singular uses have emerged rapidly. This new planned development neglects the existing uses that these lands hold. The existing activities are present because of the vacancy of the land caused by the dispute and lack of policies. For as long as these lands remained vacant, they proved their opportunity to cater to multiple uses. These uses are not limited to the neighbourhood but extend to different parts of the city. As a user, these monocultural development makes the space feel empty whereas its vacancy provided value to this land because it always provided the user with an opportunity to change and adapt to their needs. 

Choked imagination dictating monocultural development

The monocultural development of the land is negligent towards the vacancy phenomenon. According to Vacancy and the Landscape: Cultural Context and Design Response by Carla I. Corbin, ‘Any fragment of land, no matter how unobstructed the view across its surface, is inhibited by its cultural or natural history.’ In line with this thought, it justifies the different uses and its importance to the cultural history. 

 

Polycultural habitats evolved from traces of current systems  

By retaining the existing activities and systems in contrast to the new monocultural development, I intend to treat these greenbelt land parcels such that they show their polyculture. To stop these monocultural development that carries the same use at any given point in time, killing the multiplicity of the land.

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