Town Square: Bangalore
07.17.2013
Suryabala Sah in Planning & Urban Design, Reimagining Cities, The Town Square Initiative, Town Square

Image © Gensler

The Town Square Initiative is a yearlong volunteer effort in which Gensler designers set out to unearth and re-imagine unexpected open space in cities around the globe. All 43 Gensler offices were invited to participate in the conceptual project, in which we challenged our designers to identify open space in the city and re-imagine it as a town square.

Both rural and urban settlements in India have exhibited a unique way of defining town squares. In many ways, the country’s rural town squares have sustained over the years. However, the growing importance of urban life to India’s economy and culture demands the creation of new forms of sustainable public space within the country’s cities.

In Bangalore, the town squares have transitioned from spontaneous gathering spaces and temple squares to gardens. The question facing us now is what’s next? To answer this, Gensler’s Bangalore office recently embarked on the task of proposing a new typology of urban space that would be relevant for today’s context. We call this the Lakesquare.

The Lakesquare aims to create a ‘better city, better life.’ The premise behind the thinking is that the quality of urban space affects sociability. Our Lakesquare design forms the missing link between the built environment and city. This initiative is envisioned to trigger the much needed nationwide movement for a sensitive approach towards urban spaces.

Considering the geographical expanse and dense population, the city needs multiple town squares, each with a unique character. Hundreds of lakes dotted the regional geography of Bangalore once, of which only a small number survive now.

Image © Gensler

Reclaiming and rejuvenating Bangalore’s neglected lakes remains a top priority for many social organisations. Rehabilitating these lakes not only mitigates the problem of the city’s depleting water resources but also redefines its lost identity.

Image © Gensler

To address the need for multiple Town Squares within Bangalore, we identified three generic prototypical variants: Urban Core, Urban Oasis, and Urban village.

Image © Gensler

The three prototypes will trigger an urban movement and raise awareness for how lakes can rejuvenate surrounding public spaces.

Image © Gensler

Providing passive and active activities that draw from the strength and unique identity of each typological location is the key to the success of a lakefront town square.

Image © Gensler

The design for Ulsoor Lakesquare (Urban Core), in conjunction with several public conservation initiatives, aims for a conscious intervention.

Image © Gensler

It would open up the lake to the neighborhood, enabling enjoyment and appreciation of the great resource in the heart of the busy district.

Image © Gensler

So what’s next?

The tools needed to rejuvenate lakes already exist, but the Lakesquare movement would require careful planning from various experts. The Sherwood Institute, a San Francisco based non-profit, is working towards formulating a vision that would provide a road map towards a restored lake system in Bangalore. The Gensler Bangalore team plans to collaborate with the Sherwood Institute to propose practical and innovative design strategies in order to revive the lakes of the city, thereby providing the citizens of Bangalore with a much needed social space. We will also explore other such collaborations.

Suryabala Sah studied Architecture from Birla Institute of Technology, India and currently is a project designer at Gensler’s Bangalore office. She is a beholder for efficiency and is committed to deliver socially and environmentally efficient designs at all stages of her career. Her key areas of interest are Sustainable urban planning, Hazard resistant design and Design research. Recently she presented and published a paper on hazard resistant land use planning at Disaster Management 2013, Spain. Her enthusiasm, creative inclination and inquisitiveness make her to be an ideal team member to work with. Also a qualified artist, she loves to analyze, to innovate and to travel. Contact her at suryabala_sah@genlser.com.
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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