SMART CITY BHUBANESWAR MUST REFLECT ITS CULTURAL IDENTITY
Today, the State capital city of Bhubaneswar will celebrate its 68th Foundation Day. It was on April 13, 1948 that first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had laid the foundation stone of the city. Since then, Bhubaneswar remains a celebrated model of modern architecture and city planning with the prehistoric past as a Temple City.
Bhubaneswar is one of the planned new towns in the post-Independence period. World renowned German architect and urban planner Dr Otto Koenigsberger prepared the city’s first master plan in 1948, drawn on neighbourhood principles, for a population of 40,000. The city remains a notable paradigm of modern town planning and architecture in India.
Bhubaneswar before becoming the capital of Odisha in 1948 had been a temple town with series of ancient sandstone temples, heritage ponds and water tanks. Koenigsberger wanted Bhubaneswar to be a modern city
In his introductory notes, he said the plans of very few towns in India were laid out by experts. Odisha was fortunate to be able to build a new town specifically designed for the purpose of a capital to be equally convenient for functioning of the Government and everyday life of its inhabitants. Architect Julius Vaz played an important role in shaping the skyline of Bhubaneswar. He designed most of the Government buildings. Vaz adopted the Hindu style of architecture with some modifications to take advantage of modern methods of construction and to meet new social needs of the people. None of his works in Bhubaneswar is a copy of buildings from other area. It is original and unique.
Koenigsberger specified a few guiding principles and climatic design features essential for buildings in the city and suggested the Government buildings not to be designed for air conditioning in the initial stage because the weather was agreeable enough. According to his guidelines, most Government buildings have impressive corridors, which are also intended to protect the walls of office rooms from direct sun rays.
Neighbourhood units were designed by Koenigsberger with the best amenities and facilities of urban life, with units placed at short distances to give people easy access to school, hospital and other amenities. He suggested seven types of roads – footpaths, parkways, cycle paths, minor housing streets, major housing streets, main roads and main arteries -for seven groups of users for seven different functions. The layout of housing was designed with parallel rows to admit sunlight and fresh air. Contemporary neighbourhoods facilitate pleasant and comfortable environment.
The effects of climate change have been observed since last few years in the city. It has been found to be excessive heat in summer both during day and night .The temperature in summer is ranging in most of the days around 40 degree celsius, which not only affects the health and comfort of the people but also demands more energy. The number of rainy days has been decreased, and the groundwater level has decreased by one meter in the major areas of the city.
The rapid urbanisation has become a great concern for heritage conservation. There are many threats to cultural heritage sites. Due to development pressures, archaeological sites are neglected or surrounded by poorly planned commercial development. The fine architectural elements are gradually losing their importance. In many areas, there are encroachments and narrow heritage routes. The monuments and the cultural activities associated with the monuments play a very important role in the lifestyle of the people of Odisha and give a special identity to them. It is necessary to improve awareness of cultural heritage due to its historical, social and aesthetic significance.
Urban transformation is a habitual process in the evolution of cities. In the imagination of any city dweller in India, the picture of a Smart City contains a desire list of infrastructure and services. To provide for the aspirations and needs of the citizens, urban planners ideally aim at developing the entire urban area which is represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development – institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure. This can be a long term goal and cities can work towards developing such comprehensive infrastructure incrementally, adding on layers of smartness.
In the Smart City proposal Bhubaneswar got the score of 78.83 points and topped the list. In Bhubaneswar, the plans are (1) the construction of the Bhubaneswar Town Centre District (BTCD) for which a 985-acre will be developed as a model area with better urban mobility and waste management system. The boundary of the district is
defined by properties fronting Janpath Road on the east, Udyan Marg on the south, railway tracks on the west, and Maharshi College Road on the north. Key city landmarks in the district include: Ashoka Market, Master Canteen Chowk, Bhubaneswar Railway Station, City Bus Terminal Ram Mandir, Rajmahal Chowk and its immediate surroundings. (2) The city administration will build cycle tracks along the town centre.( 3) Development of facilities such as drinking water and sewerage has already been taken up under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut) scheme. (4) Besides planning to roll out a fleet of 565 buses to connect all the 67 wards of the city, the administration is also promoting non-motorised mode of transport. (5) Rahagiri to promote no-car days has already started in the city, (6) Pedestrian-friendly traffic signals will also be introduced. (7) Open spaces and parks to be developed to make the city ecologically sustainable. (8) Safe refuse points will also be introduced for female commuters. By pressing a particular button, those in need of help can inform police. (9) The city administration will also install at least five surveillance cameras at 26 major traffic junctions to check crime. (10) An online parking ticket system will also be introduced.
Cultural heritages are fundamental aspects of our identity and must be transferred to the next generations in the best possible conditions. The new trend in creating Smart Cities for the future should reflect our cultural heritage. One major challenge is the restoration of water bodies. All historical buildings and temples in the old Bhubaneswar need to be protected and conserved. The central area of Bhubaneswar designed by Koenigsberger is a special urban heritage site of the city with outstanding planning features and has a public value. The buildings designed in this area by architect Vaz are the important landmarks of the city.These buildings with special architectural interest along with the site should be protected from alterations by regulatory techniques.
Smart City should address the social and cultural needs of the people. Architects should design climate responsive buildings to provide thermal comfort to people and reduce energy consumption. The buildings, power systems can be brought down considerably by the integration of smart technology in building design. Architect should incorporate Intelligent Building system right from the preparation of the design brief. Right from the concept stage the building elements such as heat load calculation and energy consumption, security system, fire protection, water supply should be considered. Design strategies should promote social inclusion and equity and ensure equitable access of infrastructure and amenities to its people.