WORKSHOP - SOFT MOBILITIES : POSSIBILITIES FOR AN INDIAN CONTEXT
Credits : Karun Kumbera architects and urbanists & INterland India (P) Ltd.
While 30% (328 million) of the Indian population is now living in urban areas, the urban growth will reach 473 million in 2021 and 820 million in 2051.As a world-wide phenomenon, the pace of urbanization which is directly correlated to the concentration of economic wealth and human ressources in a physically limited space is generating an increase of motorized vehicles, vercrowded public transport, pollution and congestion.
Balanced urban development is now an imperative and requires careful understanding and coordination. Interactions between economy, housing stock, social development, transportation systems, natural environment, must be well-integrated for the cities’ efficiency. This implies a radical change in the way one plans and forecasts the evolution of the city. All components of the city are now linked and only a systemic approach can guarantee the emergence of a broader and global development strategy. In most major Indian cities, population and economic growth have exceeded the capacity of organization and anticipation of urban amenities, particularly in terms of mobility, water supply, sanitation, electricity, waste management and environment. This situation is particularly exacerbated in the field of transportation. In the five major metropolises of India – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata – growth of motor vehicles has outpaced population growth! Nowadays, the most common strategic quandary of biggest cities is “how to retain the economic benefits of city scale while limiting the deterioration of transport performance?” Whatever are the “heavy” transport infrastructures (new roads, flyover, metro lines…), they will not be efficient if they are disconnected from issues on urban functions (economical, residential, leisure, commercial...), urban density and urban renewal.
Climate change, the need to reduce energy consumption and have access to renewable energy, correct water management, preservation - even gain of green spaces, regulating the growth of social inequality, the growth of physical and social mobility, of humans, of materials, of products and information…All these elements are pushing us to say that it is the metropolis that will yield the most efficient answers to these problems, on competitive, national and global levels. In this context, it is evident that small steps are no longer possible; an innovative and radical change is necessary. Innovation is a shift in perspective that requires time as well as clear and determined ideas.
The growth of Indian cities comes from an exponential economic development often accelerated by other markets. Today, with the changing global economy, Indian metropolises are confronted with an impending paradigm shift.
How must the economy manage the structure of emerging territories ?
With what socio-spatial consequences ?
In this context, two hypotheses emerge:
-Should we give priority to economically innovative activities which are developing on a global scale, without strong regulation of the important consequences this development could have on the lifestyles (generally speaking) of the inhabitants of the city ?
-Or on the contrary, should we imagine that it is the improvement of spatial, social, and environmental factors that will engender innovative activities, creating new, better working conditions.
Our idea is that the second hypothesis, even if it doesn’t reflect collective trends, is more interesting and fertile. We are convinced that before the lifestyles and performances of the residents can improve, there must first be a environmental, infrastructural, and urban reconstruction. In this context, the demand for growth in mobility must not be looked at negatively and condemned. Strong mobility is indispensable for an open and democratic society. All individuals should be free to travel in sanitary conditions, in good time, all over the city. The main goal of these strategy, is to reduce the use of individual motorized transport within the metropolis.
This implies the construction of a new geography of central urban spaces as well as open natural spaces (using multiple tools for urban renewal), by developing a grid on all scales to guarantee the most isochronous permeability and accessibility. In a prospective view, the urban fabric must become permeable, connected and accessible, in order for the city to adapt to the rising need for renewable energy, to evolving lifestyles, and to the amalgamation of diverse activities. The emergence of an urban form of “soft mobility,” will be capable of structuring projects on a local scale, and within a strategy on a metropolitan scale.
To guarantee this scaled permeability and articulation, soft mobility networks must be developed using and optimizing the already existing networks (railway, public transportation lines, pedestrian walkways, street networks…) and integrated into the city’s elements (public spaces, poles of administration, commerce, and leisure). This network must be organized by interconnection hubs. These spaces must manage flow, interconnections, and become ignificant poles in themselves—fundamental points which make the agglomeration more easily decipherable.
Project team : Thibault Nugue, Karun Kumbera, Violaine Buet-Kumbera, Berengere Mercier, Deepak Prasad, Alex Vuillaume, Magot Pons, Clara Daguin