Buses used to be the preferred means of commute in many Indian cities because of their practicality, wider reach, availability, cost-effectiveness and less intensive infrastructure. In city of Delhi the bus services started decent, well managed and efficient. The state run Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) grew to cover the entire city under its 657 designated routes. Continue reading “Ignorance Of Bus Based Public Transport In Delhi”
It is widely acknowledged that health constitutes the core pillar of Human Development, and is a key indicator for assessing achievements in capability enhancements and well-being. Healthy people are more productive and their contribution augments economic development and fuels growing incomes. On the other hand, ill health stifles the full realization of psychological, social and economic capabilities, and has financial implications in terms of loss of income & productivity. Continue reading “Housing And Health”
Being a Calcuttan or a Kolkattan in today’s context; it is of profound interest to explore certain pockets and landmarks of the city, which in their own way speak of both architectural and cultural characteristics which take back to an era in spite of some drastic changes witnessed in modern context of the city, society, people, surroundings and many more of such aspects.
Hence triggered the idea of walking down such memory lane thus capturing the elements which evoke an usual quest to know about the reminiscent from the past that develops an intense perception regarding the influence of colonial architecture in a city which used to be known as, “The second city of the British Empire” or “The city of palaces”.
The photography mostly revolved through the Dalhousie area and partly in areas such as Esplanade, Park Street and Red Road (presently Central Kolkata).
Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
Dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), the structure made of white makrana marble got completed in 1921 and has an architectural influence of revivalist Indo Saracenic style which has a blend of British and Mughal elements.
Architect – William Emmerson
Central Telegraph Building
The oldest part of the sprawling building has been shown in the picture. The telecommunication services in India began in 1851 from this building, which was operated between Kolkata (then Calcutta) and Diamond Harbour, 21 miles away. Telephone services viewed by the British as a tool of command and control came in practice in India from 1882.
Experts and local historians say, this was supposedly designed as an Italian clock tower, but it never came to contain a clock.
St. Andrew’s Church
As most of the churches in the city are Cathedrals or Anglican church, this is the only Scottish Church of Kolkata with the characteristics of comprising a clock tower and a spire.
The structure got completed in 1835 and in today’s context it stands beside the Writers building amidst many other heritage and commercial buildings of a congested central zone of the city, which has the blend of nostalgic perceptions of the past and the overcrowded footfall of the present day Kolkata.
History says the old Kranny Barracks or buildings of the Writers of the East India Company have been turned into Bengal Secretariat, which comprised of 19 plain three storey buildings in 1776 with least architectural beautifications.
Perception of the present day form is that of a Gothic structure which is ornamented with Ionic Columns to support the pediments, the typical entrance pattern is repeated thrice on the southern part of the building complex, one of which is been showcased in the picture.
Local experts and historians believe the Gothic style ornamentations were done at a much later phase since its inception. The reason cited was that of its ordinary appearance and resemblance to a warehouse, hence the ornamentation done for aesthetic upliftment in a later phase.
GPO (General Post Office) Building
The original location for the first Fort William, where many British prisoners were imprisoned, it is the central post office today and also houses a postal museum. The domed roof rises over to 220 feet.
Situated at the western face of BBD Bag (Lal Dighi Square), Dalhousie area, it is surrounded by mostly the heritage buildings of colonial era which has been converted into offices in present day context.
Royal Insurance Building
Situated on the western side of Dalhousie square and opposite to the GPO building, this insurance office was built in 1905 and truly reflects the Victorian style as it showcases the eclectic mix of historical styles and its fusion with Asian influences.
On the north east corner, this building sports a dome added with features such as bay windows, decorative trim embedded on the sides of the façade, projection of turrets clearly indicates the Victorian style adopted in the architecture of this building
Architect – Edward Thornton and William Banks Gwyther
This depiction is that of a random office in the vicinity of the Dalhousie square area, just opposite the famous landmark Raj Bhawan (Viceroy House).
This is a not so famous landmark or a building, which caters as a present day office building.
But there is an intriguing question, if one visualizes the architectural elements or aspects of this building that comes to the mind.
Ornamental additive elements in form of pediment, raking cornice, abacus, ionic columns which enhance the appeal and aesthetic of the facade of the building depict… neoclassical or Palladian form or style of architecture?
Many such intriguing aspects were explored in a place which was once a colonial capital.
The journey will be concluded more profoundly and thus unfolding numerous quests and interesting architectural fact file in the upcoming part of this series : “Capturing the Colonial Calcutta – Reminiscences of an Era”.
Over half of the world is urbanized now. An ever growing population and increasing activities in a developing city bring about tremendous pressure on the urban land and its housing sector. Urbanization has resulted in people increasingly living in slums and squatter settlements and has deteriorated the housing conditions of the economically weaker sections of the society. The problem of Urban Housing has always been an inevitable outcome of growing urbanization.
Huge housing costs in urban areas have induced the economically weaker sections of the society to occupy the marginal lands typified by poor housing stock, congestion and obsolescence. It is apparent that substantial housing shortage looms in Urban India and a wide gap exists between the demand and supply of housing, both in terms of quantity and quality.Housing as a lot of people understand is not just limited to a shelter with four walls and basic amenities. Housing has all physical, social and economic dimensions. Decent, affordable housing is fundamental to the health and well-being of people and to the smooth functioning of economies.
Housing other than providing shelter and infrastructure serves as the area where an abundant supply of social relationships and services are accessible; such places are for social intercourse, education, recreation, sports, social welfare and health protection services, shopping and transportation.
According to the Abraham Maslow’s theory on human needs, there are five stages of human needs which are physical needs, security, love and belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. These five stages are organized in a pyramid form starting from the basic stage, (physical need) to the highest reaching stage (self-actualization). Housing as a whole should be a component that can help deliver these needs to us especially to the marginalized group where the housing shortage is maximum.
The volume of housing shortage in the economically weaker sections is so huge that while providing affordable housing to them it only gets limited to their shelter needs with some infrastructure, while the other equally important factors like ‘inclusive development’, ‘public participation’ and ‘right to the city’ etc. gets lost in the process. Thus forming various small clusters of EWS & LIG housings within the city which somehow start acting as ‘exclusion points’ of the city for them instead of providing an environment for their overall development. Such development has already resulted in socially fragmented cities where the elite class wants the informal working class to be practically invisible to them, thus avoiding any such development near their luxury housings with perfect views.
To bridge this huge social gap between the high class and the EWS it is important to develop inclusive cities. A development that stimulates the feeling of belongingness among all its citizens irrespective of their economic status and is socially impartial to the marginalized should be encouraged. Even though the rich and the poor don’t share the same places all the time but at least the visual acknowledgment instead of creating barriers is much needed.
Inclusive spaces without any barriers, be it visual or physical, to respect the presence of every citizen could be one of the ways to overcome the fragmentation of the society.
Housing being a major part of development can play an important role to achieve this. Thus it is very important that in all the new policies for ‘Affordable housing for all’ these factors of social inclusion, participation in development and ‘right to the city’ are equally significant.
For a development that is spatially, resourcefully and socially just to all its citizens it is important to have all the above parameters equal importance in the policy implementation for affordable housing. A housing which is affordable and inclusive is the need of the day!
In a sorry development, a modern architectural marvel was demolished. The landmark symbolized India’s tryst with modern architecture. The cast concrete structures designed by architects Raj Rewal, Kuldip Singh and engineered by Mahendra Raj stood witness to numerous exhibitions and trade fairs. Though well known to architectural community these modern ‘monuments’ were not ‘popular’ amongst masses.
Amidst wi-fi dreams the city has started abandoning its heritage, its identity. The sense-of-belonging to cities has seen rapid decline and they have been reduced to basics of being economic engines.
The demolition of Hall of Nations on night of April 23-24′ 2017 has resulted in a debate about definition of heritage. It has also highlighted lack of public discourse and popular participation in development of urban habitats in a nation on massive urbanization drive. The destroyed structures formed part of modern ventures in world’s 2nd largest urban centre, which essentially prides of its history and diversity.
In the wake of such situations we observe lack of professional and educated participation from architects, planners and urbanist in urban governance. The management and government of urban centres is often left in the hands of a creed oblivious to issues of urban environments, management, heritage. This is true not only regarding built environments but a wide gamut of issues including urban pollution, safety. Equally essential is sensitizing general population about environments they inhabit and participate in decision making regarding their cities and not just be a mute audience to ‘their’ governments.
Hall of Nations, Pragati Maidan, Delhi – 1980-2017