Saturday, February 22, 2014
Urban planning process or the plan is not a neutral tool; it reflects the aspirations and is an expression of the desired model of urban organization.
A holistic ‘urban policy’ necessitates a shift from current practice to include tools for correct identification and evaluation of social and urban needs at both the macro and micro-level.
Planning as a tool should be a much more significant process than it generally receives in the contemporary planning activities of the nation or state. It can effectively regulate the urban form, its structure, productivity of the inhabitants, economic well-being, social well being, environment well-being and others which will eventually guide the state on the paths of development based on the living human values.
Foreign Models aren't directly Transferrable
It is a common observation that the plan documents of large cities neither reflect a vision, nor do they provide guidance for the future. Planning documents are usually based on general principles, more or less common to all the cities, essentially made up of rigid regulations. These documents often ignore the context specific realities of each urban area and are not capable of responding to their specific urban needs or anticipated urban trends. Each town has its own specificity or constraints determined by history, geography, and economy. Planning strategies should focus on issues peculiar to each town by raising important but simple questions such as the identification of main constraints and the kind of development that is envisaged to overcome the constraint in the next ten years. In what conditions can the urban areas and institutions meet the future economic challenges? The type of transportation systems that are to be set up and finally even what kind of planning process are to be adopted.
Within the plan methodology, the number of players involved is far too many. The players have roles in different stages of the life cycle of infrastructure provision include feasibilities, planning and implementation. Hence diverse planned projects with varied priorities are conceptualized and implemented independently, during the master plan preparation or immediately thereafter. This forces the master plan to necessarily integrate them. Various projects supported by funding agencies and institutions are largely operating under the premise that infrastructure projects must address project technicalities and be viable. While the isolated projects may meet the criteria, the combined external benefits are rarely assessed or measured. In many cases poor utilization of the infrastructure or damage to the environment can be attributed to such isolated efforts
Too many jurisdictions
Consensus across institutions is weak and hence the acceptance of a plan with final commitments from all involved parties is rare. This is particularly true in case of large cities where jurisdictions and departments are large in number. For instance, the cantonment and operational areas of defence establishments, which occupy prime locations in the city, can hardly ever be integrated into the planning system. Service delivery is also adversely affected by fragmented institutional arrangements as is documented by research of land use in Ludhiana.
A McKinsey study predicts that deficiencies in per capita water supply, sewage treatment and solid waste management, affordable housing and public transport will widen. While India’s cities continue to generate growth, says the McKinsey report, they fall short of delivering a basic standard of living to their residents across all major quality-of-life indicators. The critical lesson for India from China’s urban experience lies in re-shaping and strengthening municipal governments in order to meet development objectives. Given their powerful States and lack of democracy, Singapore and Shanghai may not be appropriate models for Indian cities, but cities like Gurgaon is a potent warning. Market forces and private wealth, Gurgaon shows, in the absence of an effective state, have failed to create a liveable city.
The above discussed things play a significant and crucial role in the overall developmental process with special reference to the second most populous nation of the World i.e. India. The country has experienced a tremendous rate of development since its independence, but it would have been more of a worth developmental story to listen if these issues would have been sorted out at an initial stage.
Image by Hindu Business Line
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Planning for all age groups is an inviolable principle; in practice, however, planners have been unduly preoccupied with certain age groups. The general approach to community development and planning has been in consideration with child- or family-centered. With the rising medical facilities the life span of the race of human beings is also increasing considerably. The effects can be seen in many of the developed countries and is steadily hitting the developing world. To create the spaces for the aged population hence should be a key consideration for the planners while designing the urban spaces. Over the past 25 years the number of people aged 65 and over has risen to 17% of the UK population, an increase of 1.7 million, and by 2035 this will rise to 23%. What's more, as the global population ages, growing numbers of us are choosing to living in the city.
If the aged were no different in character and kind from other age groups, then there would be no need to consider them as a separate group deserving special consideration in the planning context. But there is a growing body of evidence that the process of aging, in which there is a gradual attrition of physiological and mental faculties as well as economic resources, has definite implications for environmental planning. It is an oversimplification to say that planning, as it is presently conceived and carried out, will automatically meet the needs of elderly citizens; if anything, some fresh thinking is required.
The success of the planning exercise depends variably on the weightage of the predictions made. The Cities aren’t an entity which are formed or developed in a certain time frame. The planners, especially in the developing world has to be more aware of the changes not only in the field related with the urban planning, but also the advancements, improvements and changes being experienced at an accelerated pace in the factors involved in the field of human settlements.
|The Two Sticks|
Source :- http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/key-issues-for-the-new-parliament/value-for-money-in-public-services/the-ageing-population/
The ageing population can’t be ignored in any sense as if the planning exercise is wisely done, they may become a guiding lamp for the inhabitants and their amount of experience can’t be denied in the formation of the healthy society. One of the things which are a differentiating factor among the rural and urban settlements is the lack of proper guidance to the urban youth by the elderly society which to many extent is still the same in the rural backdrops which subsequently leads to the increase in the crime rates. It may be regulated if the needs of the ageing population are taken care of with the planning tool as well as their mergence with the young minds by providing social spaces that encourages it.
|A Moment Of Hapiness|
Source :- http://comluv.com/work-relationship-even-grow-old/
Recognising the practical needs of different generations within cities will be central to the process of making cities more age-friendly. An ageing population ultimately creates more demand on social and healthcare systems and this presents a number of challenges for the project. By recognising the diversity among older people – by promoting inclusion in all areas of community life, and by anticipating and responding to people's needs – cities can capitalise on the significant resource that older people provide. Through the economy, community life, volunteering and civic participation, we can foster a socially-engaged, active older population which will be positive for everyone living in our cities.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Digital cities are being developed all over the world. Digital cities integrate urban information (both achievable and real-time) and create public spaces for people living in the cities. The topics include telematic applications, car-free cities and so on. Why do regional information spaces attract people given that we are in the era of globalization? We realize that the Internet has triggered global businesses, but at the same time, it enables us to create rich information spaces for everyday life. Business requires homogeneity to allow global competition, while life is inherently heterogeneous reflecting the different cultural backgrounds. People are starting to incorporate the Internet technology into their life. Digital cities will integrate people’s everyday life and business on the Internet by using a city metaphor.
In the US, 80% of incomes are spent within 20 miles from home. Even though the economy has become more global, everyday life remains local. For people with problems with their health, the worldwide network cannot have much impact. Local networks of people with the same problem are more valuable. Digital cities will provide the infrastructure for networking local communities.
The concept of digital city can be said to have been applied in Amsterdam, where communication between the municipal council and citizens were started to be made via texts and modems at first. Terminals were placed at public spaces such as libraries. The success of this experiment increased the interest of the citizens in the Internet. In the first ten weeks, 10,000 people registered with the digital city and 100,000 accesses were recorded. The system continued to grow, and in 1996, an average of 48,000 users visited the digital city every week. The smart Dubai is a promising example. It will add around 5.5 billion US$ to the total GDP of Dubai and will also add around 27,000 jobs.
Digital Cities may prove beneficial at large as it includes the participation of the community and the integration of the advancements made in the field of Science and Technology. However, its implementation and design will play a crucial role in determining its success. The developing world is still competing with the rising technological trends and they will have to invest in the various researches in order to make their large and densely populated cities - a healthy experience for the inhabitants. Technology and advancements are always good, but their way of incorporation in the living style of the humanity is what, is more important. Inventions generally doesn't gets failed, but its the humanity which fails to understand the criteria of its use and limits.
|Community Participation is very crucial in the Success of the Digital Cities.|
Sunday, February 9, 2014
|Source : -http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/25/prehistoric-human-social-networks-much-like-our-own-study-finds/|
Consciously or unconsciously, all of us are historians. We can plan for the future only because we remember the past. We can add to our knowledge only because we do not lose memory of former experiences (Strayer, Y., Joseph. Gatzke, W., Hans). Language facilitated the transmission of culture – the life ways of a group – from one generation to the other. Cultural adaptations have allowed the human race to spread across the globe. ‘A critical feature in hominid evolution is dependence on cultural learning. Through culture people create, remember and deal with the ideas’ (Kottak, Phillip, Conrad. Mirror for Humanity). The increased acceleration in the overall developments leading the advanced humans of today with its changed way of living especially in the last two centuries had given a limited time to understand the entire phenomenon with which it was undergoing. Prior to it, the phases were long enough (I’ll be writing about the different transitional phases that the race of humanity has experienced in the past, once I gets finished with its details and research work) and the developments were occurring at a comparative very slow rate, hence a sufficient time gifted to the human race was grabbed by him wisely. But, the set of inventions lead to the advancement of the societies and its culture leaving behind the roots of our existence far behind and of very less importance.
The settlements earlier were mostly self-sufficient, although trade used to happen as well. The human race used to maintain a balance between him and the nature. But, for the last two centuries around, emphasis has been given to extend in terms of area and infrastructure leaving behind the standards of human existence and its way of living. Humans, as the trends goes by, has learned from his mistakes and evolved rather into a more prosperous society, will emerge in this case as well and the trends of basic living standards of human lives will gain back its importance with certain changes in the approach, increased awareness in the inhabitants about the cities/urban space, they resides in and reformulation of the urban planning academic module with the inclusion and emphasis been given towards the trends of the human settlements, characteristics of a human being, its natural behaviour, as the place meant to evolve after the implementation process(as the city grows) will be a place for him to live-in. The ignorance to these things has been largely paid by the human community and the changes are to be made at the ground level itself.
The study and knowledge of the past trends of development makes the prediction for the growth efficient and comparatively easy. The ‘Forward Planning’ approach may be reframed with the current planning approach as the acceleration of the current development of trends seem to be getting even more complex for the coming decades and it’s the duty of the planners to provide in with the living values which the human being deserves and relates with even more efficiently in order to increase the productivity for the increasing burden of population especially in the developing countries like India and China.
|Source : - https://www.sciencenews.org/article/laws-transformed-early-human-society|
|San Bushmen who are direct descendants of the first Modern Humans Photograph: National Geographic Society|
Source :- http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10009121.shtml
Friday, February 7, 2014
The concept of the urban and the rural spaces are generally differentiated with the type of activities performed in both of them. Though their functioning is relatively inter-dependent and inter-functional, they are at large treated as separate entities and their planning is also generally done in isolation. The increasing population has to get accommodated in the urban areas, especially in the developing world to increase the level of education, awareness in order to make advancements at par with the developed world in the future times, but the usefulness of the both of them can’t be over-rated in any sense. The urbanites has to be circulated by a large amount of agricultural and rural products, without which their survival will become the question of their existence and rural population needs the market where there products can be sold out as it’s the major part of their earning. Hence, for a sustainable growth – the two of them should be planned together so that the needs and survival requisites are made at a comparatively nearer location to make the settlements a self-sustaining system in general. ‘As the moment of the urban majority approaches, it will become increasingly important to think critically about the meaning of urban-ness, to set aside habits of thought that have placed city residents and rural villagers in separate conceptual categories, and to recognize the many ways in which their lives and well being are intertwined... there is a growing understanding that it will need to be replaced by more graduated measures of the urban-rural continuum, one which recognizes the connectedness of rural residents to multiple urban places.’ (Urban Population-Development-Environment Dynamics in the Developing World, June 2002, Kenya)
The other interesting standard that could be placed in to increase the efficiency of the human settlements lies in the present standards which divide the spaces as urban and rural areas. They are generally measured in terms of the demographic profile, density, area, no. of motorised vehicles, etc, which are in direct contrast if the standards of the quality of life are measured. It will also become more and more important to conceive the cities not in terms of the well being of their average resident – which is generally superior to that of the average rural villager – but rather as places of astonishing diversity and inequality, in which substantial populations live in slum neighbourhoods facing threats to health that are as bad or worse than in rural environments’ (Urban Population-Development-Environment Dynamics in the Developing World, June 2002, Kenya). This will look a little unusual in the first perception, but when thought of as the life of the humanity and its basic living values, the readings and the set standards gives somewhat which can be said to as a translucent image. The cities aren’t the physical entities rather they are as lively as the organs of our body. The daily habits and schedule effects the functioning of the organs, likewise, the human interferences effects the functioning of the system, in which they live in. The complexity of the urban settlements has increased and is increasing at an accelerated pace every moment that passes by; therefore, it’s a real high time to raise the aspects covered in the contemporary planning processes to a wider level and all the factors involved should all be planned in integration with each other. The establishment of the concept of Urban-Rural Continuum in this respect should play a significant role in the future planning, developments, formation and growth of the human settlements. For the new developments and the new cities to be planned in the coming times, this concept if planned wisely should prove beneficial at large and the efficiency of the urban-rural ecosystem could be maintained at a higher level.
Images from fignet
Analysing Inter-relation and Inter-dependence is very significant.
The core hypothesis of the traditional urban and transport planning – ‘growth of mobility’, travel time saving by increasing speed’ and ‘freedom of modal choice’ are myths and do not exist in the real urban and transport system. This is the reason why urban planning and transport planning based on traditional non-scientific assumptions is creating continuously not only more transport problems, but also environmental and social as well as economic problems all over the world, where these principals are applied (Hermann Knoflacher). The road traffic congestion is a recurring problem worldwide. In the developing nations being the growing economies, the problem is acutely felt in most of the cities. In a research work performed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, the reasons for the much intense problem of traffic congestion in respect with the second most populous nation of the world i.e. India were quoted as – infrastructure growth is slow compared to growth in number of vehicles, due to space and cost constraints and the traffic being generally non-lane based and chaotic, is largely different from the western traffic.
The role which transport engineers and planners have played in the total process of urbanization is very critical in the efficiency of the urban settlements of the past. This has to be based on perceiving the settlement as a system and isolation planning will worsen the scenario in the coming decades. There’s one good example quoted by Mr. Knoflacher in his research work under the title of ‘Success and Failure in Urban Transport Planning in Europe – understanding the transport system’ which raises the role played by the traditional transport planners resulting in the higher level of issues and problems which flourished after the lack of information and study of the urban settlements. ‘If traffic flow exceeds the capacity of a road, traditional transport engineers tend to add additional lanes to reduce density and enhance the speed. This is the effect of traditional transport education. If density is decreased, the car transport sector becomes more attractive, more people use the car, the speed is enhanced not only locally; this produces more car traffic and finally the same congestion appears, but only on a higher level.’... ‘This has been studied on an urban motorway in Vienna where traditional transport planning had forecast a reduction in traffic flow when the motorway was opened. Ten years later, the urban roads had more traffic than before and there was about four times more car traffic on the motorway. This was because the motorway produced its own urban structure consisting of urban sprawl and economic activities along the motorways.’ The solution to any urban problem if done after studying and analysing the causes and the roots of them has a greater chances of taking its stand in the future. The planners have rather seem to have got indulged in the ‘trial and error’ method in spite of looking in for the long-term approaches. The idea is not in against with the technological advancements and the rising standard of living, but ‘Have the race of Humanity forgotten the concept of quality of life which it deserves and is worth of?’
Planners have to understand the complexity of urban systems and should understand the fact that ‘a little change or a small policy implemented may result into catastrophic situations in the coming decades. The transport planning is a very critical factor that determines the shape and functioning of an urban settlement. The models proposed by various transport engineers and planners, for instance ‘transit oriented development’, will not enhance the efficiency of the urban system if other factors involved in its efficient functioning will be ignored or less emphasis will be given on them. The transport system has its very vital role in the whole of the urban progression and developing just for the sake of present convenience will surely give the birth to a set or urban problems in the coming decades. Planning for flyovers, by-passes can’t be provisioned just for the sake of the rising traffic congestion. It has to be dealt with integration of the other significant factors which I’ve been discussing through my blogs for the efficient functioning of the urban settlements. Nothing in case of the urban settlements can be planned and designed in isolation with the other phenomenon. The inter-linkages and inter-connection should be wisely understood. The conclusion of the research work mentioned above states that ‘There can be no solution for a sustainable future of the traffic problem through conventional methods and measures. If we do not learn from the past, we have no chance of surviving in the future.’ The problem of traffic congestion is widespread around the cities across the Globe and if we didn’t understood the diverse effects of the things done in present on the future trends, the situation will only get worse and complex to sort out. Transport planners and engineers should understand the significance of their job and should understand the complexity of the system rather than promoting for transit-oriented developments blindly.
Image from valleymetro
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
One Thing Ignored gives Birth to different Problems and Issues
National populations are being recomposed by urbanization in ways that channel more and more citizens into relatively smaller dense geographic units – cities (Panel on Urban Population Dynamics, 2003). Dynamics of Development of an Urban Settlement are intense and complex. For different persons it may vary according to one’s interest – for some it may be the economic development, for some it may be demographic development, for some it may be a combination of different subjects. This blog writing will try to focus on the various significant dynamism characters of an urban settlement. Dynamics is defined as the forces or properties which stimulate growth, development or change within a system or process. For planning, developing and growth of an urban settlement, its dynamic of developments has to be studied intensely and wisely providing some hierarchical manner to develop the urban settlements as a self-sustaining systems. If the focus is given in the developments happened in the last couple of decades in the field of architecture and urban planning, the most discussed topic may be found to be as that of sustainable development. The sustainable development is directly related to four significant factors – the efficient relationship of the natural system and the man made systems, the economic factors which regulates the growth and ability to handle and answer the various questions that arises with the various infrastructural developments, the healthy formation of the society which imparts the urban settlements; its shape and characteristics over a period of time and also relates with the efficient functioning of the urban settlements, the policy making process and the ones which are related in the formulation and implementation of them; political interferences, plays the crucial role in the management and development of the urban settlements. There may be the other inclusions as well into the list, but these have a general impact on all the urbanization process going on across the Globe.
The natural system comprises of a different set of factors – the hydrology, the river system, the green areas and its growth, the environment, geographical conditions and topography to name some. Any human settlement for an efficient and productive environment, the human-nature relationship has to be understood. For Humans, it may be easy to conceive the changes occurred in its own made system than perceiving the changes experienced by the natural system. The natural system as the economic activities or education advancements is continuously at a dynamic state. This dynamic state can’t be ignored if the efficient sustainable urban settlements of the future have to be planned.
The economic factors of development though well known by a major section of the urban society, but it can’t be planned in isolation with the other significant factors. The irony of the recent developments has been that – most of them emphasizes on the economic development in isolation, which may not be able to resist in for long. The advancements in Science and Technology has boosted up the economic activities like never before and which is a good sign as far as the development and evolution of the race of humanity is concerned, but it can’t be the lone guiding lamp for the process of development The inventions aren’t that generally fails, but human himself generally fails to incorporate them in his way of living. The aspect has to be wisely dealt with in the future developmental processes.
The healthy formation and growth of a society is also of upmost significance as they are the guiding factors that shape the urban settlements in true sense over a period of time. The heterogeneity character of the urban society imparts the characters of a ‘sub-culture’ which further regulates the growth of the settlements. Lewis Mumford described city: a geographic plexus, an economic organization, an institutional process, a theatre of social action, and an aesthetic symbol of collective unity. The urban characters are impacted by the living style of the inhabitants and thus the formation of a healthy and active society can’t be ignored in any sense while carrying out the planning exercise. The city is a melting pot of races, peoples and cultures, and a most favourable breeding ground of new biological and cultural hybrids (Louis Wirth). The significance of the social infrastructure and its relation with the productivity at work of the inhabitants should be underlined.
The political interferences and the policy making process can be said as the head of the urban settlements as the critical policies and regulations are prepared by the persons involved. Although, there is a feed-back process after the formulation of the master plans and other norms and acts, but the transparency and public involvement is a serious issue. Also, the implementation process, especially in the developing world is adversely affected either by the multiplicity of the organizations involved or due to the political will. The political scenario though can’t be changed in an eye’s flick, the awareness of the significance and the role which the participation of the community and the inhabitants can play need to be spread and population awareness schemes need to be launched for the same, especially in the countries of low education level.
These are the four significant dynamics of development in relation with the planning, development, formation and growth of an urban settlement. The dynamism of the urban settlements is intense and complex and can be further studied after reading and understanding the above mentioned significant dynamics of development.
Image from reclaimistanbul
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Can Urban Planners be defined as the 'doctors of the urban spaces'? A Doctor is more responsible I guess.
Louis Wirth related the process of urbanism, industrialism and capitalism: ‘it is particularly important to call attention to the danger of confusing urbanism with industrialism and modern capitalism’. Wirth strongly held the view that the true effect of urbanism will occur only with the evolution of the cities and the cultural interactions of the immigrant people over a period of time. Therefore, the principle for the healthy construction of social structures and society can’t be forbidden as planners designs the urban spaces for the human beings to live in, but it is the society that eventually leads in shaping the cities in accordance with its needs and comfort. Cities are a product of growth rather than of instantaneous creation. Lewis Mumford described city: a geographic plexus, an economic organization, an institutional process, a theatre of social action, and an aesthetic symbol of collective unity.
|The Modern and Advanced Human Settlements|
Source :- http://www.gaiaonline.com/guilds-home/kakusei-city-monster-tournament-open-accepting/g.387667/
The profession of urban planning is young comparatively (related with the advancements as a discipline) and its theories have experienced significant changes over the period of last century in terms of developments, evolution and scale of the subject. Heather Campbell defines planning as the interface of knowledge and action ; ‘as an activity concerned with intervening and taking action to realize better place-based outcomes, one might assume that the better informed such judgements are, the better the resulting outcomes are likely to be.’ The process of urbanization is at a rapid pace which leaves the human race with less time to think (related to the span-time of the various transitions experienced by the race of humanity), research and make necessary and appropriate shifts towards the contemporary urban planning approach. The scenario in terms of technology and advancements is changing every moment and thus a change in the approach generally followed by the urban planners is required to help save the existing urban spaces by reviving them sustainably, as per human living values and human-nature relationship and also to help save the process of urbanization which is yet to be done in the developing countries. Cities have evolved into a more complex space inter-linked by a number of natural systems, disciplines of humanities, social sciences, economics, politics, anthropometrics, environmental science etc., and thus the development and the growth of them has also changed significantly.
Since larger countries like India and China are still on the developing track and there is still very much left as far as the Urbanisation is concerned and countries which sets them as developed will be involved in a more intense and advance developments, hence the usefulness and responsibility of the urban planners will increase substantially and they should be in a position to solve the urban problems successfully. It is a real high time for the fraternity to learn from the failures committed in the past and try to enhance and improve the success story to build the real sustainable cities of the future. The cities have to be stopped taking as physical entities. The job of the urban planner directly influences the lives of the thousands of people and hence the exercise should be done based on the wider aspects of the modern urban settlements. He can be said to be performing a bigger task than being performed by a doctor at his profession or by an engineer advancing towards technology, as the role of the urban planner is to provide a healthy medium for all the professions to flourish. The productivity of the inhabitant is managed by him at large. The responsibility is big and I’m sure the fraternity will grasp it with both hands.
“And, finally, we have to be rather modest. Urban planning is not an exact science. We are all still learning in all parts of the world. Nobody possesses a complete methodology which is "fail proof," so we have to learn, we have to face our own failures, acknowledge them and learn from them, and eventually we would be able to demonstrate that urban planning really adds something to a city and makes a city more efficient. "
ALAIN BERTAUD (former chief urban planner, World Bank)
Images from gaiaonline
Images from gaiaonline