Xiao Gong and Zhiyun He
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Located on the proposed Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, the city of Surat plays an important role in the production and exportation of textile and diamond in the world market. It is known as the diamond capital of India, one of the fastest growing metropolis in the world.
The rapid development of industries led to an explosion in population of 2 million people in the past 10 years and an imbalanced growth pattern in Surat City. While the high demand for accommodation and further industrial development has put huge pressure to the city and causing congestion in the centre, most of the rural villages, which are located further away from major roads, remain relatively isolated due to lack of infrastructure. They are left out of the development process without any benefits.
Therefore, the research proposal looks at creating an integrated urban network at the periphery of Surat to facilitate the projected urban growth of 1 million habitants. By taking an infrastructural design approach, we look at how the forty-four existing villages and settlements can be utilised, reorganised, and activated to form a series of inter-dependent community clusters, which together caters the multiplicity of urban growth such as migrant population, cultural diversity, meaning of transportation, and job demand. Major aims of the proposal include:
– Create a multi-dimensional infrastructural network.
– Provide accommodation and social facilities for 1 million habitants
– Provide opportunities for inter- dependent relationship between agriculture and industries.
The development of the project went through a range of scales. The largest focused on the relationship between Surat city centre and the rural villages. By analysing the existing development pattern, the density of settlements, and the distribution of worker’s movement, the overall distribution of the proposed polycentric clusters were structured to bring travel efficiency and balanced development.
Then the project zoomed into the cluster scale, in which each village, as main components of the cluster, is addressed with hierarchical order to form an integrated network with all other villages. Based on the hierarchy of villages, a catalogue of road systems were designed as a prototypical base for laying out the whole road circuit in the cluster scale. The final road circuit not only provided sufficient transportation network for different road users, but also formed a solid foundation for the generation of associated urban spaces.
Finally, the project looked at the finest scale of everyday living spaces in the village. With respect to the traditional Indian village layout and the meaning of common spaces, a building catalogue were proposed to explore how architecture and urban spaces can be generated along with our proposed road typology, to provide a modern urban scheme while fostering the traditional quality of Indian life.
As summary, being aware of the power of transportation network, our design of the infrastructure system has not only provided sufficient roads, but also allowed the shift of economic powers from privileged zones to individual villages, encouraged social communications, and the emergence of other urban dimensions in rural Surat.