By Savitha Hira
Here is an urban planning endeavour that urges the common man to ‘think big’ in terms of improving the quality of his civic life and simultaneously sustains the heritage essence of the busiest and amazingly alive metropolis – Mumbai.Architects and Urban Planners of repute, Brinda Somaya and Shivjit Siddu, along with like-minded members from the architectural fraternity, civic authorities and citizen groups have conceptualised an additional area of 51 acres in the heart of Mumbai city.
After months of creative research and planning, they have sought to give back to the burgeoning metropolis and its ever-thirsty populous, a slice of improved public space existence that will not only add on to the scenic landscape of the historic fort area, but befit a pragmatic conjecture in the wake of a growing economy and shrinking square-foot spread.
The Mumbai Esplanade Project, as it is called, is dedicated to the aam Mumbaikars, who alight in massive numbers (6.9 million every day) at the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST station) and at Churchgate stations from all over the large city to earn their living. These commoners generically bear the brunt of over-crowded local commuting by trains and the hustle-bustle of pedestrian movement rudely interrupted by intermittent traffic snarls.
A simplistic but versatile solution seems to be the construction of a large superstructure – esplanade - that will allow smooth transition of pedestrian traffic from the stations to the surrounding Fort area up to Nariman Point, with the vehicular traffic relegated to safe and signal-free underpasses. The two-pronged strategy will not only benefit the quality of life of the common man, but will also be a boon for the disabled and elderly commuters, who cannot climb down sub-ways.
The plan also proposes to create 2.5 lac sq. ft. of cultural space amidst landscaped gardens and water bodies and facilitate an additional 640 parking spaces around Fort and Marine Lines. It significantly proposes to connect the existing open spaces – Cross Maidan, Oval Maidan etc, into one large holistically integrated urban core – quite analogous to the Central Park footprint in NYC.
It is an initiative by aam Mumbaikars for the improvement of the city and citizen-participation is welcome.
An exhibition on the project is open to view at the Horniman Circle Garden from 18-20 Nov, 2011; from 10am to 7pm.