'As the wheels turns full circle, The sky is perfect few puffy bright clouds against the morning sun. A bird catches the first flight, spinning in the sky'.
The above poetry is a whim of an eleven year old describing her dreamland, but kids talk and they all grow up. But wait a minute and think for a moment. Do we not like the wonder-words? What is so childish about visiting a park on a bike into the greens? Haven't we like that child wanted to grow up in a wonderland? Howsoever lusted we are of the technologies and gadgets, ultimately its in nature and people that we find solace in. We are social animals and the problem occurs when we forget this fact while envisaging a city.
Lewis Mumford stated about cities- “The city multiplies man’s power to think, to educate, to communicate and makes association which bridges or bypasses the nations, cultures, elites; these mixture and cosmopolitanism is the chief source of cities vitality”. For years city planners, designers and philosophers have envisioned and experimented in planning different kinds of cities. In my mind, a true future world-class city will be based on two principles- ‘Sustainability’ and ‘lesser greed’. The first major lesson that one learns from the past centuries is that all the demographic projections and surveys have been a failure for any cities, we have failed to project the number of people coming, going, living, working, renting, subletting and encroaching. The world-class city has to only be effectively grasped on the ground and in real-time. So I looked into the examples that have proved sustainable urban centers, bypassing the failure of the planning done for these so-called projections. The cities are made of the elements that form its system viz. the physical form, the cities economy, the governance, the services and its citizen. There are many cities in the world that have set some great examples of various systems forming the aforementioned. I start to make building blocks of my own world-class city.
Much inspired from the views of Rahul Srivastava (www.airoots.org), on ‘Dharavi’ of Mumbai this city will take its inspiration for its physical form, this utopia will not be an Architects city by any means yet Architects will be fascinated by the energy it exudes. A house is an object like any other and to build one you need knowhow and material. This city values lands and resources and follows the hyper exploitation of the space, people and opportunity as Las Vegas. Aesthetically, however, it is vastly superior to Las Vegas. Humanly even more so. No space can have a single use. Every nook of the wall will have a tool box set. Work at home if you can afford it. If you can’t then live at work. Either way no space can have just one function.
A heart of a city cannot be commercial greed enclosed in a mall. Not lured by international gimmicks, this city does have some stake in the international market but the economy is ‘sustainable’ and driven by ‘lesser greed’ which in turn makes it a very strong domestic market evading any global market crisis.
The basic amenities like water, sanitation, garbage disposal, electricity, public transportation etc. will be taken care by a very customer focused governance. The authorities are allowed to do their jobs without any hindrances or bottlenecks. The progress vs. parameters are monitored on a frequent basis. The governance that is focused and accessible by the citizens. The city is largely community driven as the citizens realize their responsibilities of using the natural resources. Every citizen is responsible enough to keep a check on his carbon footprints. Public spaces are much celebrated spaces. Narrow stresets where children play anytime without being hassled by any motor vehicle to over-run them and where every kid has planted a tree at least. A city where there are equitable solutions for every strata of the society. If only commonsense could accompany with some science no city takes time to reach the status of a world-class city. A city grounded in the reality, but dynamic and flexible for the change with time.
With human race increasing in numbers more than ever in the bygone eras and resources being consumed at the rates never before, we have to build cities in the direction where by all means we maintain the ecological balance by giving back to the nature. We have only one earth that contains all the humans and histories we know of, the way we shape our cities will decide the future of this planet. We need to take good care of it.