Contextualizing the Landscape Design to Cultural Traditions: A Case of Community Open Spaces in Pune, India

India has rich and diverse cultural heritage where cultural traditions are an important part of life. Festival celebrations are pause points in the routine life of the people apart from being rituals in religious traditions. Community open spaces are important settings for the festival celebrations and cultural activities. Historic cities had community open spaces closely integrated in the fabric of the city with spatial characteristics developed in response to the cultural traditions. The “synomorphy” (as defined by Roger Barker) of the spatial setting and the cultural traditions developed in the traditional settlements is evident even today in the old city cores of Indian cities. This paper takes case of the city of Pune to study the cultural traditions and festivals and their spatial settings in context of landscape design. Pune, an important city in the state of Maharashtra, is called as the cultural capital of the state. The paper uses a descriptive and qualitative approach to study and present the space-culture associations based on observation and activity mapping of open spaces in various parts of the city during festivals. Secondary data and literature is also used to understand the spatiality of the festivals and for triangulation of the data. Like many cities in the world, the city of Pune has grown rapidly in past few decades owing to the globalisation and technological revolution. The city on one hand offers state-of-the-art business and educational opportunities while on the other has strong cultural patterns evident even today in the celebrations and festivals. The simultaneity of the modern as well as the traditional probably makes the city an interesting livable place. The change in housing form and open space structure has resulted in the loss of domestic open space, which was earlier present in traditional houses and served as places for family functions and festival celebrations. Today, community open spaces are largely used for cultural activities and festival celebrations. The landscapes of the community open spaces are dominantly programmed to meet recreational activities and have very typical park-like character. Certain cultural activities that are best suited on a barren ground cannot be supported by the lawn. The lawn dominated landscapes have a lot of restrictions imposed on their usage as maintaining a lawn is an expensive task in tropical, water-scarce situations. Use of purely ornamental and exotic species of plants lacks any of the cultural associations that the native species have. Findings of the study point to the need for contextualizing open space design with an aim of creating culture-responsive settings conducive for cultural activities.

Hanging Gardens in Cities: Potential Benefits as a Retro-fit

Green roofs and walls are increasingly being incorporated in urban centers to enhance visual appeal and livability. However, holistic evaluations that quantify environmental, social, and financial implications of these measures are limited, as well as those that use a long-term perspective. At the same time, the discussion tends to revolve around the perceived benefits rather than the established or quantified ones. This paper, using a holistic evaluation of a project that received the Singapore Skyrise Greenery Platinum award in 2011, argues that the strength of the case for adopting or incentivising green strategies in high-rise buildings in the city-state is negative from a resource- and cost-footprint perspective. Assessment methods to quantify social values of the greenery strategies in buildings, such as therapeutic and biophilic benefits, are currently non-existent, as the established evaluation methods such as life cycle assessment focus on the production stages rather than the use phase. While the results reported here stem mainly from the inherited building characteristics, incorporating these greenery strategies at the early design stages and using a careful system design can reduce the burden.

Remoteness: Robin Hood Gardens

Remoteness commonly means the distance between things, either in space or in time. What distance is this? Distance is the length between two points, which is a quantitative feature, an in-between measurement. For example, in ordinary discourse we refer to remote places as distant places, the ones from which we feel physically or temporarily distant, the ones we don’t see, the ones that are somehow untouchable. Is this in-between only a linear measurement? In order to unfold this question, the present paper selects Robin Hood Gardens (RHG), a residential project in Poplar, London, designed by the architects Alison and Peter Smithson in the late 1960s and built in 1972. This case study is explored through two in-betweens: in-between Here and There and in-between Now and Then. “Here and There” discloses the relationship between one’s body and place. It focuses on becoming closer to or distant from Robin Hood Gardens; asking underlies our feelings of remoteness. We ask: why do we (not) get closer, why do we (not) approach? “Now and Then” presents the relationship between one’s body and time-space. It focuses on the feeling of remoteness in travelling across the space and moving back and forth in time. We ask: why do we (not) traverse between spaces and between the future and past in Robin Hood Gardens?