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Anuja Patil


Celebrating Liveliness - Reliving the streets

Palghar, a developing town is also known for its scenic landscapes and hence aspires to become a tourism destination. The chosen corridor is the main station street, connecting different parts and catering to various activities throughout the day - giving the street a dynamic character. To cater to this, the chosen pocket, i.e. the area in front of the Palghar station was reconceived as a single plaza as a one stop destination creating a welcoming and inclusive space for diverse activities. By celebrating liveliness, this re-imagined streetscape with ample tree cover in the plazas, creates a space closer to nature that also acts as a welcoming gateway for the visitors.

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Reading the City: Palghar is a developing town located in the proximity of Mumbai. The main entry to the town is either through the railway or the highway. The chosen site acts as a town centre and also caters to the inflow and outflow of public. The design questions how can it become a public realm than just remaining as a functional transport corridor?

Reading the Corridor: The street caters to different activities during different times of the day, which also gives it a temporal character. The street transforms from an early morning market street to a transit street to a shopping destination especially during the weekly markets. This also leads to congestion as it can be seen in these sections. Through the vehicular & pedestrian flow analysis, it can be understood that there is a heavy pedestrian flow. The street also acts like a lifeline for everyday activities from commuting to recreation and also has a historical & cultural importance.

Inference and Vision: The street acts as both a thoroughfare & a destination. And hence gives the liveliness to the town on which it thrives today. The street requires certain restructuring to make it more accessible and certain areas might require some activation to revive their character. Hence the vision is to imagine this as the gateway for the town that also acts as a town centre and provides a memorable & welcoming experience. This would also add to the imageability of the town, increasing its economic & associational value.

Design Strategies and Traffic Mitigation: The streets have been reclaimed for pedestrian usage, and a network of pause points are created to recognise certain landmarks, and also to anchor the public to the place by rebuilding the lost association. Measures are taken such as changing it into a one-way street, converting a part to fully pedestrian, while another to partial pedestrian, so that pedestrian movement is encouraged for reducing congestion & emphasising on the informal market.

Stitching the Corridor: In the entire 1.2 km stretch of the corridor, restructuring of the streets was done as per the changed movement pattern, certain areas were identified that could be reclaimed for continuous pedestrian movement, and create pause points at places that have active commercial & recreational activities throughout the day and certain historical nodes or the blank wall parallel to the station that could act as feature element of the town.

The Reimagined Street: The existing layout of the chosen 500 M stretch shows the primary entrance to the railway station, permanent vegetable market, shopping centre and restaurants, suggesting that there is a heavy pedestrian flow, yet the streets largely cater to vehicular movement. Hence, the reimagined stretch emphasis on maximum pedestrian movement & providing only 6.5 M wide carriageway to the vehicles while the remaining right of way was divided between the walkway, cycle track, informal vending area, outdoor cafe seating & pause points.

The pocket design: The area in front of the Palghar station was reconceived as a single plaza, designed considering the existing axis formed by the surrounding structures, the historical structures in the vicinity, and the axis formed by the station. This single plaza can be divided into 4 different plazas depending on the activity such as market plaza, the recreational plaza next to the eateries, the station plaza and the central plaza. This gives the space a temporality in terms of its usage and experience. View 01 shows the street in front of the station with a walkway for fast paced transit users and a leisure walkway for partial pedestrianised street. View 02 shows the street parallel to the station that has seating spaces for interaction, informal market in relation to the commercial shops acting as a secondary market street.

Material and Planting Palette: The town is in its transitory phase and hence the materials chosen are contemporary, yet reminds one of the past. The planting is done in relation with the existing trees in the surrounding to enhance the experience. There are 4 different types of tree characters that are chosen - avenue for directionality, plaza trees that create a sense of enclosure, feature trees & linear row shade giving trees.

The 2 views show dynamics within the street through daily & yearly variation. The first view shows how the space changes from morning vendors, to a shopping or resting place to a shopping & recreation destination in the evening. The second view shows seasonal variation from summer when the trees would be blooming to monsoon and post monsoon to create a welcoming experience when there is an inflow of travellers.

The plaza provides a comfortable shaded space throughout the year for various activities and also helps reduce the overall temperature and heat gain by the surface. In the larger context it also acts as a stepping stone for the urban avifauna and a landscape respite at the center of the town. This re-imagined streetscape with ample tree cover in the plazas, creates a space closer to nature that also acts as a welcoming gateway for the visitors.