Belongingness and Urban Form - Spatial and behavioral approach towards renewed place association

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Submission Summary
In contemporary times in the metropolitans, with the pressure of urban development (especially in developing countries), not much attention has been given to public life and public realm. More focus has been on provisioning based on predetermined requirements rather than actually understanding the different groups of people, their use of public spaces, their needs and aspirations. This limits the choices of spaces available to the different groups. Hence, the quantity of spaces which are able to contain the diversity of the city and can foster new social relations, sense of belonging to the city are lacking. The importance of stronger association to city spaces, place attachment and sense of belonging is attributed to positive emotional bond between people and places that affects people’s values and attitudes, their responsibility and stewardship towards city spaces, their sense of community, security and satisfaction, their participation and engagement with others in the city and the local identity. (Sattarzadeh, 2018). Different people associate to the city in different ways and hence creating places for people should not just be a spatial exercise but a socio-spatial exercise. Through urban design interventions, the everyday spaces that these people use can turn into more meaningful places that offer choices of activities which match with their behavioral preferences and thus can become places of renewed associations to the city at large. Delhi, the capital of India, is the second most populous city in the world and is expected to become the most populous city by 2028 with 3.7 crore people. So, the questions arise, whether the city that is home to such a large and diverse population will even be worth living in? What will make the city sustain its social and cultural diversity? What would it hold for its citizens that would enhance their everyday lives? What would the city offer which would make the citizens feel associated to it? The planning in the city has mostly been based on generalized needs and calculated requirements. People have been completely left out from the planning and design process of the city. This has created an urban environment which detaches people from the public realm and has weakened their sense of belonging to the city. The city has grown in a way where cars have gained more importance than the people. The pedestrian environment in most parts is unengaging, boring, difficult to traverse. There are very few places which allow diverse socio-economic groups of people to engage in activities and stimulating experiences other than work and their mundane daily routines. East Delhi particularly, where one can see the aspects relating to belongingness and associations, weakened bonds between people and places, more intensely, is selected as the test bed for this study. The intent of this paper is to reinterpret the public spaces at local level in relation to the needs and behaviors of different user groups and see how they can be transformed into spaces of collective engagement and renewed association. It involves a detailed site study to understand people and places in the specific context, identifying the various people groups, their behavioral preferences, existing associations and the factors affecting them, their needs and aspirations, existing setting and identifying the associated issues and potentials through field observations, secondary data, online and field surveys and interviews. The design idea focusses on transforming mundane everyday routes to networks of mentally and socially stimulating spaces that are congruent with the lifestyles, routines, needs and aspirations of different groups of people fostering social behavior which encourages collective engagement and thus creates association at different levels (neighbourhood, community and district).
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5: Uniqueness and connectivity. Al-Baraha: unlocking urban futures
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School of Planning and Architecture , New Delhi

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