Friday, May 30, 2014

The Perspective of Densification of the Urban Spaces

There are many concepts related with the process of densification of the urban spaces in order to make them occupy an extra hand in terms of the population it was previously serving. With the rising number of dense settlements i.e. the cities, the authorities in the absence of the knowledge especially in the countries which are called as developing and also due to the political will generally are left with the solution of densification of them. The theory of densification could be well implemented in cities/towns which are comparatively at their younger age or are to be developed and planned from the scratch, but it seem pretty indigestible to implement such thing in the cities which don’t have enough places to build the social infrastructure, the number of open spaces, etc, an addition of the population in turn may imbalance the efficiency of the entire urban ecosystem.

For instance, the national capital of Delhi is one of the densest megacities across the Globe and it has not been left with many spaces for further development besides the peripheral boundaries of adjacent urban agglomerations. Master Plan of Delhi was restructured in 2001 with a perspective of the city up to the year 2021. The approach followed by the concerned authorities seem to have fallen short of the wider aspects of city planning and development which surprisingly raised the F.A.R. (Floor Area Ratio) just around 10 years after it was revised in 2001. The premise behind setting this example is – by raising the number of floors they have allowed the population to be added in areas which already lack in terms of social infrastructure, market places, green areas and a further addition without the provision of the basic requirements of a human being may introduce a set of new kinds of urban issues.  A city can’t be planned like a building is designed for a lifespan of 50-100 years. The vital impacts and effects it will generate in the future should be studied prior such steps are implemented. The carrying capacity of the ecosystem of a city also can't be ignored while developing to build sustainable future of the human settlements.

The densification process needs to get merged with other factors like their long-term impact, construction of an efficient and productive society, etc. The complexity has risen to an all-time high for the human settlements which is set to increase over the period of time with the advancements in different disciplines being made at an accelerated pace. The densification of the city spaces can be looked as short-term advancements which will have their economic and social cost in the following time period if it is implemented like it is generally being seen in many of the cities around the world.

There are advantages with the concept of compact cities – reducing the travel time, cost, carbon footprint, but they can’t be implemented in some of the comparatively mature cities like Delhi, as the densification of the urban spaces will have a direct impact on the city’s developmental story. The general advantage discussed with the theory is that it reduces the ecological footprint by reducing the mobility per person, but there’s no use of reducing it when it is not inter-related with the city’s ecosystem as a whole and basic human living values in general. It may seem to increase the productivity of the citizens but the productivity factor also holds co-relation with the quality of life of the inhabitants which is just not related with the mobility aspect in general. Also, densification will bring in some changes in the cultural transformation section as well and it should also be studied while implementing such concept.

Density Planning may prove far more beneficial and is quite significant to deal with the complexity, the urban spaces are experiencing in current times. Planning in accordance with the number of dwelling units per acre could deal the things from the wider window and help significantly in the development of sustainable cities of tomorrow. Density planning may prove one of the most significant tool especially for the developing countries which still have a major share of spaces to get converted in to urban spaces. By strategically increasing the number of dwelling units per acre, cities not only may lead towards meeting their sustainability objectives, but also will be competitive, resilient, and great places to live. 

Densification is a tool for the planners and the authorities which they should use more efficiently and with multi-disciplinary vision to plan and create efficient, better and sustainable urban settlements of the future.

Image from mw2