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Bodas Sanjana Vivek Sneha


A market stroll- Reimagining the socio-cultural matrix

The project envisions a market street central to Thane city as a vital corridor reflecting the city’s culture, heritage and social values. The market corridor connects the transit, residential and recreational areas that have kinetic and ephemeral elements. Can this corridor create a functional link between the ecological, cultural and recreational layers of the city? The project acknowledges these layers with aim of creating an image of the city at the urban core. The project is explored at three different levels, from a neighborhood context with varied city experiences that link the larger city goals the project is further imagined at corridor level with 4 distinct layers and a series of plazas that enhance the old city character and connect ecological layers of the city. Finally at the pocket level the plaza is visualized as an ephemeral and kinetic area that would activate the underutilized and engage people by creating a sense of place and belonging for the people.

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Seeding vision for the corridor-Thane city with an area of 128.23 sq. km and an ever-growing population is left with a dearth of open spaces in the city. The project explores the possibility of streets as important public spaces within the city. Identifying the unique corridor along the city core the project envisions market street as a vital corridor reflecting old city character with enhanced user experience and ecological associations.

Site Analysis: Reading the corridor-The market corridor is a part of a larger network of spaces that are distinct in character and activities. It forms a complex network of pedestrian and vehicular streets. The project analyses different layers of the site based on flow density, pedestrian activities, issues and opportunities. The streets have high pedestrian density and are crowded and congested at all times. Street collisions due to unmanaged traffic system and sidewalks occupied by hawkers disturb the market experience. Further the streets have temporal character. From a busy chaotic vegetable market, a part of the street transforms into a commercial market and finally into a hawker’s market with food stalls. Temporality is an important part of the street experience. The streets remain active around the day and also throughout festivals and seasons.

Reclaiming streets: Strategies-Studying various layers of the site the inference and strategies are explored with the aim of creating a functional link between the ecological recreational and cultural of the city. The corridor is imagined in terms of 4 streets networks (Cultural, ecological, recreational, residential) that extend wide along with the context and Links to the larger city. The second strategy is to connect ongoing projects like lakefront development and thane creek development and create ecological association that would achieve larger city goals (Enhance tree cover, avifaunal associations). Activating the underutilized areas along the stretch is the third strategy to create versatile activities and engage people. Enhancing the temporal and kinetic layers would help in creating an image and identity for the city.

Reclaiming Streets: Corridor-The master plan is reimagined based on the inferences and strategies. The journey through the corridor is imagined in terms of four distinct corridors wherein the user from a cultural area with various hawker markets and temple plazas travels through the residential shared streets, from there the journey would transition into an ecological area as a pause point with trees and shaded seating areas. Finally, as the user approaches the transit areas the experience would be recreational with active plazas.

Reclaiming Streets: Masterplan-The existing and proposed master plan highlights the difference between the overall pedestrian experience. The proposed design highlights and explores three distinct corridors in terms of increased pedestrian experience based on the strategies Enhance activate and connect. The cultural corridor that is the reclaimed pedestrian street, is visualized with plazas and engaging market experience along with the temples / active shop fronts. The experience then extends along the residential corridor which is a part of the shared street. When the shops are closed on weekends the streets are imagined to host happy streets that would engage residential users. The users then connect with the recreational corridor experience with café and plazas. Here the vendor markets are shifted along the underutilized area to reclaim space for shopping plaza and food stalls.

Pocket Details-The design ideas are translated from street and corridors to plaza design and details. From the overall master plan, the area chosen for further detail is the central node that connects all four corridors. The existing context of the pocket is studied here with important landmarks, user groups, vegetation and underutilized road edges. These are then considered for the design of the pocket with strategies for enhancing the old city character, activating underutilized areas and connecting the ecological layers of the city.

Pocket Details-Based on the 3 strategies enhance, engage, and connect the spaces are visualized in terms of seasonal plazas and an ecological corridor that connects the larger networks. The celebratory plaza explores the idea of enhancing city character by creating a sense of place and belonging for the people. The sunken plaza is treated as a day-day space for hawker markets and children's play area. Further, this space is the lowest point on site and hence would determine seasonality where it would convert into a floodable area and can be used for rainwater harvesting. The underutilized parcels along the site are activated by creating market and residential plaza that create semi-public spaces and connect people with the ecological layers along the site.

Blue infrastructure-The design and detail of the sunken plaza is explored with respect to topography, rainfall and materials as a flood mitigation measure. The design allows users to sit and relax, play sports, celebrate festivals in the sunken interior, it also acts as a flood storage area, collecting runoff from the surrounding streets and discharging it back into the system when drier weather resumes.

Kinetics: Every day and Seasonal transition-The spaces are imagined with respect to seasonal variations, activities and programs. From a day-to-day space, the whole area is imagined to transform into a festival space full of life and character. The material palette is explored in order to create the old city character and the idea of creating a sense of space for the people, further the planting palette is explored in terms of avifaunal associations creating a larger city link.

Conclusion-The spaces are reimagined in terms of three modules. The larger context figure connects areas along with the neighbourhood and visualizes the overall experiences along the neighbourhood. Furthermore, the market corridor reflects potential plazas and nodes reimagined to enhance experience and mobility patterns. Lastly, the detail pocket design connects to the user-specific experiences with kinetic elements and layers determining seasonality and distinct character of spaces.