Shortlisted Entries 2020

Peri-urbanism : Addressing the politics of in-between

Nikita Kulkarni
Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies | Mumbai

The thesis attempts to understand the specific opportunities that arise from the meeting of urban and rural. The peri urban zone is in a state of rapid change. The social composition of peri-urban is highly heterogeneous and subject to change over time. Small farmers, informal settlers, industrial entrepreneurs and urban middle class commuters all coexist in the same territory, but with different and often competing interests, practices and perceptions. Identifying the interface’s “Patchwork” structure and aiding to negotiate the conflicts between various social groups, the thesis aims to address different aspects that would be instrumental in the governance, development and experience of the peri-urban. 

Hubli-Dharwad are the twin cities of Karnataka, forming the largest urban conglomeration in Karnataka after Bangalore. While Dharwad is an administrative headquarters and the cultural and educational centre of the region, Hubli situated 20km apart is the commercial and business hub. Due to the interdependency of the cities, around two lakh people travel to and fro on a daily basis . To cater to this, a new BRT system is established, that intersects the Peri-urban landscape between the twin cities. In this mutual buffer zone which consists of villages around, a new Govt. township Called Navanagar is developing as a result of the new infrastructure .This region is springing up in a haphazard manner, majorly affecting the agrarian landscapes. These trends are expected to continue, and are seen in the form of rising population and buildings, loss of open spaces and farmland, changing land uses and occupational patterns, in turn giving rise to conflicts among various groups in the peri-urban Society. This raises some important questions: Who has the power to define what a landscape should look like? Can the politics of the contested land have a collaborative model ? Can infrastructure go beyond its function and become a civic space? Can this transition between the two cities have an identity which is emergent and not hegemonic ? Can Architecture serve as a catalyst to bring harmony in a conflicted space? 

In response to the above questions, This multiplicity of opinions and interests could possibly be resolved through collaborations and debates, thereby creating a win-win situation. The thesis proposes A new Planning model for the Peri-urban, which is more participatory rather than authoritative, taking into consideration all the stakeholders involved. Breaking the scales of governance into three levels, that would aid in the planning process. smallest, at a local level, proposing open civic spaces for the locality, At the neighborhood level, engaging with the everyday life of people allowing community participation and other at the urban-regional level which is the primary space of decision making, processing, production and dissemination of information. 

The Hubli-Dharwad highway is the inseparable part of the everyday lives of the villages around as well as the city dwellers. Strategically locating the intervention on the corridor would urge community participation in the decision making and would also aid in the place making of a non-place resulting to an emergent identity. The BRTS stops become an important threshold between the detached journey and the re-emergence into the city. The thesis intends to extend this infrastructure into a new kind of civic space that allows for many voices, languages and functions, which then could act as a catalyst for resolving the conflicts of the contested land.