Naranpura Public Ground
by Astha Shah
The Naranpura public ground owned by AMC is located in the Naranpura Ward between the 132ft. RIng Road and the railway line. Although there is a similar ground nearby, it is claimed and maintained by the Vijaynagar Co-op Society, which actively limits its accessibility. A larger ground nearby hosts the Tibetian Market during winter, and is otherwise used for parking. This makes the Narapura public ground, which sits on a junction, surrounded by residential areas, an important vacant space for its immediate neighborhoods.
The claims on the ground shift throughout the day, week, and season. RSS members exercise near the junction in the early hours, cricket matches fill the void in morning and evening, when empty, soon to be drivers practice their skills. Vendors occupy the edge, and people cut across. On festivals, the ground transforms entirely. Vendors come from Saraspur to sell seasonal items like kites on Uttrayan, colors on Holi, and crackers on Diwali. For religious orations on days like Chaturmas and Samvatsari, the ground is used by the people from the Jain community, which dominates the neighborhood.
Though the ground is public, various actors claim it differently. Where their claims conflict, tensions are created. The majority of the users on the ground are men. This begs the question, when a government names a ground as public, is it their duty to ensure that all the groups can use it efficiently? Do the lack of sitting areas, security and toilets the ground away to the men of the neighboring societies?
The design intends to address the issue of imbalance among the users of the ground. By separating the cricket ground from some of the edges of the site, I can create a zone where more people can access, which through its define encourages occupation by women. Because this is at the narrow end, the space for a cricket ground is maintained, so that the existing scenario may also remain. The civic centre itself becomes a “transparent wall”, which acts as both a transition and a separation between the created space and the existing ground.
The building is placed so that the women may come to the heart of the open junction. Markets can draw people along an expanded edge, where permanent vendors are given more space. The site’s boundary walls have been removed so that the experience of the ground expands into the road. The building, so simple it is at once invisible and welcoming, sits on two service cores that support a civic centre on the first floor. At the ground, the service core serves the public. One core houses the toilet block while the other holds the staircase and lift. The civic centre waiting area connects visitors to tellers and officers, and also acts as a viewing deck for cricket playing out on the ground.