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Unit Occupied [Graphic Anatomy of Everyday Urban], 2019

Pedagogy developed by Victor Cano-Ciborro and Mansi Shah, following Rebel Bodies Rebel Cities
Taught by: Mansi Shah and Kruti S.
TA: Vaishal Patel
At: Bachelor of Urban Design, CEPT University
Students: Anushka Priyedarshi, Bhavya Trivedi, Daksh Tak, Hariyali Gajera, Hetanshu Pandya, Karan Patel, Kelly Shah, Kritika Vidyashankar, Moryada Swargari, Nisarg Shah, Prachiben Vyas, Sakshi Naphade, Saloni Nathan, Sharanya Pisharody, Shriya Dhir, Tanmay Kapoor, Zankhna Palmist

Unit brief

Public spaces in the core walled city of Ahmedabad are powerful expressions of cultural and historical fabric of the city. They serve as breather spaces and are generators of social and everyday events. Currently, many valued historic spaces of city have turned into parking lots, or storage areas, or have been occupied by vendors/ residents as private areas. The Unit ‘Occupied: graphic anatomy of everyday urban’ looked at 6 stressed public areas in the city and invited students to bold experimentation and innovation to uplift these areas. While doing so, the current usages, patterns of everyday life, and relations people hold to the site were to be extensively studied to arrive at appropriate and sensitive solutions to the challenges detected.

The unit followed a drawing-based methodology that was structured in three modules. The first and second module ‘narrative cartographies’ and ‘visual essays’ show detail and precise drawings of the space from an ethnographic viewpoint. In the third module, students developed design interventions to provide a spatial solution addressing the real and wicked problems of our cities, such as alternatives to contested or neglected heritage sites, design projects to address accessibility/ traffic, or new ways to organize marginal productivities.

To be able to learn, document and design a public space, the studio is structured in three parts:
First: Narrative Cartography- Detailed mappings of the everyday, capturing the realness of the spaces [2 weeks]
Second: Visual Essay- 3-dimensional representations of the public space [4 weeks]
Third: Design- Urban transformations in Public Spaces [10 weeks]

The first and second part of the studio essentially builds understanding of the context through very detailed drawings (mapping and axonometric views) being mindful of the ‘everyday life’ of public spaces. The third part of the studio- urban design is where each student provides a unique spatial intervention to address the challenges detected.

Studio sites

The studio has selected 6 public spaces in the core walled city of Ahmedabad to design interventions for improving the area in the context of the theme. The 6 areas have in common- a heritage landmark, they are the most visited places, witnesses heavy footfall, and are contested and occupied in different ways. These are:

  1. Manek Chowk (has a Maneg baug Temple and is a famous Market area)
  2. Mahurat pol ni chowk (Behind manek Chowk holds an old colonial Building of heritage value)
  3. Queen’s Tomb (The tomb- An ASI protected monument)
  4. King’s Tomb (The tomb- An ASI protected monument)
  5. Amrutvarshini vav and Panchkuva Gate (Vav and gate- have heritage value)
  6. Dhal ni pol (Area near French haveli)
Dhal ni pol
Mahurat pol ni chowk
Manek Chowk
Panchkuva Chowk
Raja no hajiro
Rani no Hajiro, Queen's Tomb
Narrative Cartographies
by Bhavya Trivedi
by Hetanshu Pandya
By Nisarg Shah
Visual Essay- 3-dimensional representations of the public space
by Shriya Dhir
By Moryada Swargari
By Hetanshu Pandya
Performances: Setting possibilities for design intervention
Performance set up
Small temporal interventions before taking over by parking
Inserts of play
Conflicts and site condition around Queen's tomb. ASI protected monument.
Home and lived spaces around the monument.
manifold complexities
Setting up the stage at Amrutvarshini vav
Screen at Amrutvarshini vav unused for years
Temporal activation, attracted local community
Design Interventions
by Anushka Priyedarshi
by Sharanya Pisharody
By Hetanshu Pandya
Final Jury and Exhibition
Pre-final review
one-on-one feedback
End-sem exhibition