Cities are always growing and so do the needs of people. These needs can be at any level, from basic facilities like roads, telecommunication, potable water, sewerage system, etc. to good quality environment. Quality of environment / life in urban areas is governed by the way urban development is shaped. The awareness of good quality of environment is more now-a-days as compared to few decades back.
We have to realize that basic urban facilities are the means of development and not development by itself. It is conventionally believed that urban development is the responsibility of Local Bodies, to some extend they too feel the same. But there are multiple stakeholders that facilitate urban development. Like the developers, architects, engineers, NGOs’ citizens, etc.
Urban development is not just restricted to physical expanse of a city. In fact, urban development is human development in cities where there is vibrancy, character, identity, and more importantly there is quality of life.
There has to be a shift in the focus, there has to be a shift in the thinking of the Local Bodies that they are no more ‘Service providers’, but should change the role and act as ‘Growth facilitators’, which is true urban development.
Local bodies will have to formulate a Vision, Character (Image of a City – as defined by Kevin Lynch), reflecting the cultural identity of the place. Every city has its own character and this character can be seen in many aspects, like the predominant architectural language, signage, street scape, vegetation, construction technology, density, etc. Urban design projects like public plaza, gardens, street design, riverfront, etc. tend to reflect this character of the city.
Implementation of good urban design projects is very difficult in India. There is a huge gap in implementing urban design projects, due to lack of funds, which results in the project not getting implementing as envisaged. Unfortunately, in India “GOOD DESIGN” comes with a higher cost. This is where the compromises start.
In such situations the local body can implement urban design proposals through private partnership, either directly or indirectly. Directly will mean identifying sponsors and implementing the urban design projects. And indirectly will mean, formulate urban design guidelines, which are different from conventional building by-laws. Urban design guidelines are meso level rules, applicable to a neighborhood or similar scale, whereas by-laws are micro level rules, restricted to plot level development. This is how urban design projects can be plugged with real-estate projects.
Urban design will help real-estate companies / developers bring their developments to life by integrating it to street scape. For example, the urban design guidelines can specify compound wall design, color, texture, plot edge plantation, etc. This homogenous design standard will help in developing character to the particular street. The guidelines may change according to the land use of the neighborhood.
Urban design will also help companies and developers respond to people’s needs of good design. Citizens are willing to pay more for the design that reflects ‘World-class Quality’ .
As mentioned above, developers are one of the stakeholders for city’s growth and are responsible for the ‘Real Development’ of our city. Street scape can be implemented through real-estate development. Developers will eventually realize that investment in urban design will result in growth of the company, as the salability of their project will widely increase with GOOD DESIGN IN A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD.