Designing for Future Urban Development

Post-independence, the most conventional approach to urban planning in India has been the top-down approach, where land-use and zoning regulations are finalised with regard to statistics like urban area and population. Although this approach is logical in terms of early and high level planning, it fails to acknowledge the contextual nuances of local neighbourhoods. As a response, researchers and urban planners are now favouring the bottom up approach where participatory planning invites more local stakeholders to contribute to the planning process.

Amid expanding cities, congested roads, and dense urban cores, the future of city development must be critically looked at from these two perspectives simultaneously- One from the top-down perspective, with the preparation of city plans and town planning schemes, and the other, from a bottom-up perspective focusing on restoring the everyday experience of people by improving scale, walkability, and safe, open spaces.

This collective intervention will help local urban bodies and people to actively participate and drive the change in a sustainable manner, and at the same time ensure that with the top-down view-point, there is a long-term planning strategy in place. This can offset exclusionary urban planning and ensure social and environmental equity with a practical approach. It will further ensure that during the process, there is a balance between ambition of the master plan and the on-ground realities of urban neighbourhoods. 

The underlying idea that enables a comprehensive approach to planning is the coming together of multiple stakeholders on a common ground. A well-planned city can enable industrial growth and job creation by appropriate land segregation. It has the possibility of creating ample recreational areas with healthy landscaping and heterogenous neighbourhoods that make commercial and residential zones easily accessible. This ultimately adds value to people’s daily lives, strengthening the sense of community through the creation of interactive public nodes at regular intervals.