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Eco Warriors 2021

Productive Commons: DIY Urbanism

  • Tags

    CPUL, Continuous productive landscapes, vacant cities, urban public lands, ecosystem services, housing and nature, model, toolkit, framework for design

by Sakshi Naphade
A typical Gandhinagar sector under residential zone has about 35% land under public domain designated for small and large infrastructural developments for the residents of the sector. However, the majority of these public lands till date remain unused, unproductive and barren. This is visible across all the sectors when analysed. With such a large percentage of lands under public domain, it holds immense potential for a radical change which can act as a catalyst for economic growth and sustainable development.

So, the proposal gives a design framework to public spaces to create productive uses linked by a pedestrian network. The design is based on three key aspects: 1. Productive zoning for public land (under ecological, agriculture, social uses), 2. Pedestrian armature through public zones and 3. guidelines for architectural development in these zones.

CPUL Strategy
Developing these lands would create a continuous framework of productive landscapes for communities in the center of the sector, while also shaping active and accessible zones. The public lands will be available to an individual or collective via CRP (common resource pool) model. A model such as this one allows residents to lease and gives them a design framework to develop, to grow, to make forests, and to enjoy the benefits of the produce. The system will also create small circular loops, where waste can feed local farms, and produce can go to nearby residents and so on. The design will result in a healthier, more resilient sector that provides a range of ecosystem services.

Sector 4 of Gandhinagar currently has 63.3% total residential built with about 36.7% deposited under public domain. Currently, however, all these public land remain vacant, under utilized and is an urban eyesore for its built surroundings. These lands today serve as grazing grounds for cattle, places for shelter or are being privatized for parking or garden purposes. Hence, it was important to design a framework that not only serves the existing needs of the people but also lends itself to being a more productive and revenue generating model that can be utilized across the city. The pictures above show the existing land conditions of these public vacant land.

The catalog is broadly divided into 5 main productive uses. The uses are an amalgamation of land use categories mentioned in our development plans and productive uses. Each of these uses have been detailed out further and assessed by the ecosystem services it provides to its residents. The scoring has been done based upon four services that the productive land provides namely, provisioning i.e. food, fiber, medicinal services, etc.; cultural i.e. services that bring ethical values and existing values such as recreational or tourism. Supporting i.e. services that help the biological environment in nutrient building, soil formation and lastly Regulating i.e. services which help control air pollution, enable pollination, etc. All the public land in the sector will be zoned under the 5 main uses and then through a public participation tool, the detailed uses will be applied.

Common Resource Pool
For this, a public participation model called CRP has been devised. All the public land within the sector will be deposited under the CRP. The land can then be either leased out or bought by individuals. Each sector will have their own CRP site designed for them. The site will hold public notices asking for help or employment opportunities. Through the site one can buy or lease out land that they wish to cultivate or build upon. After purchasing it, the site shows the percentage of land utilized under each productive use, suggests a planting palette and shows the user amenities available to him under 1km radius. However, to ensure diversity and a heterogeneous distribution of the uses each sector will have a certain percentage of decided for each productive use that they need to fulfil. Click on the site URL below to check out the CRP site developed for sector 4:

Concept plan- Based upon this framework, a concept plan was designed at L scale to envision how the public land will be further developed. The public land was further divided into smaller parcels of land and then a pedestrian infrastructure of 2m was laid across the sector. Also to ensure that a cyclical loop of services is maintained the zoning was done such that all the main commercial activity is concentrated on the primary internal roads and then smaller loops of nutrients, food, electricity and activities are made available.

Sector Plan
The aim of the plan was to replicate the concept plan but with policies and regulations designed to further materialise it at a finer scale. As per the zoning, the public land was divided and public infrastructure was laid out. Built form regulations for all the public buildings were designed such that they compliment and support the overall land use patterns. For the block, each public building regulations are:

  1. The maximum frontage should always face the bigger street width.
  2. Each public building can have a maximum frontage buildout of 50-60% abutting the bigger street width.
  3. Ground coverage is dependent upon the plot size.
  4. Permissible FSI levied is 0.5
  5. The FSI levied will be incremental, if the builder wishes, he/she can re-develop thebuilding after every 10 years with an extra FSI of 0.5
  6. All the society level spaces must leave at least 30-50% free open space for the residents individual use. These spaces will be decided upon the common census of the residents and no zones will be applied upon them.
  7. All the periphery spaces reserved for tree  plantation and other other public uses will be dedicated for public institutional buildings like schools, commercial centres, etc.
  8. Existing gardens and parks can be retained if the residents choose to, if not they must be changed to whatever the zoning allows for them to change.

A catalog for the built form was also designed with varying floor areas. One can choose the built form from the catalog either in a combination of two smaller floor areas or build a large one as per the plot size. Each of these built forms have been designed with a modular and multipliable approach to satisfy the future needs of the people.

Continuous urban productive landscapes. Developing these lands would create a continuous framework of productive landscapes for communities in the center of the sector, while also shaping active and accessible zones. The XL plan thus highlights the layer of a continuous urban landscape across various sectors in Gandhinagar.