Tracing the Archaic Urban Design Theories from the spectrum of User Preferences in the Post-Coronavirus Scenario in India

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Tracing the Archaic Urban Design Theories from the spectrum of User Preferences in the Post-Coronavirus Scenario in India

Ar. Aditi Mahajan,

Sinhgad College of Architecture,Pune, Maharashtra, India

Abstract The archaic urban design theories emphasize on segregation or zoning of areas in form of industries, towns and countryside or public, semi-public and private zones. The urban fabric comprising of central business districts, zone of transition, zone of commercial belt, zone of institutions, zone of residences, the suburbs and countryside. This idea evolving the concept of Urban Land use Pattern which further segmentalizes the space into industrial, commercial, residential, public, semi-public and open spaces which are well connected by transportation systems. This paper attempts to explore four existing urban design theories and inquire the relevance of the timeworn theories in the post-Coronavirus disease of 2019 scenario. The qualitative data being generated with the aid of survey, interview and observations of specific user group being inhabitants of urban cities of India, falling in the bracket of 25-45 age group. The study of user preferences is not confined to a particular urban zone, city, town or district but deals with generic survey of users from different cities stating their perception on the archaic planning systems in the post pandemic situation.

Keywords Urban Design, Theories, Segregation, Land use, Post-Coronavirus, User

INTRODUCTION

In Indian context, the agrarian society being driven by agriculture has shaped the rural design in form of clusters of small residential spaces in and around open fields. There was an absence of commercial, recreational or industrial zones within the agricultural economy. Instead, there were provisions of small kiosks and shops in the vicinity of villages. The entire area being well connected with the zone of transition in form of narrow streets to broad highways that led to the development of a unified design without any segregation or zones.

With the advent of industrialization, there was sudden shift from agriculture-based economy to trade or industrial based economy leading to the growth of rapid urbanization. The urban form shaped up with the industrial zone, residential zone, commercial zone and recreational zone. This paved the way for zoning and segregation of the urban area based on its usability and function. There was a distinctive identity of every space, allocated with specific typology as per the zone. We are supposed to live in a particular residential area, go for work to a particular institutional area, travel for entertainment to a particular recreational area, shop our needs in a particular commercial area. In generic scenario all the cities or urban regions in India follow the same pattern of transition.

Post Coronavirus disease of 2019, there has been shift in the usability pattern of the users or inhabitants within these zones. The pandemic leading to restrictions on movement and public gatherings, there has been drastic change in the functioning of urban spaces. This paper tries to explore four existing urban design theories and assess its relevance with respect to connectivity or transitional functionality in post-COVID scenario. The urban design theories explored are not implemented in the Indian context, but these theories are largely adopted in the global context. The basic outline of these theories is studied and the relatable pattern with respect to Indian context is considered. The user preferences survey questionnaire is framed based on these relatable patterns that have been picked up from the explored theories.

EXISTING LAND USE PATTERN

The existing land use pattern in India is classified into residential, commercial, industrial, public, semi-public, transport, recreational and water bodies. All the land use patterns have been allotted specific percentage of land mass within the urban space. The distribution and allocation of all activities within the city is carried as per the land use map. The land use pattern varies from region to region based on all the planning related allied aspects.

METHODOLOGY

Qualitative information with the help of Survey and observation of four existing urban design theories was very useful to explore the existing planning methods. The Survey helped in understanding the user preferences to identify the relevance of age-old theories in post-COVID scenario. The qualitative data comprising of the user movement, functionality and observations are considered as per the survey with reference to formulated set of questionnaires for interviewing, data collection and observation.

FOCUS OF THE PAPER

The paper focuses on tracing the relevance of age-old urban design theories in the current post-Coronavirus scenario with respect to user preferences and identifying the user perspective based on the connectivity pattern and land use fabric. It attempts to study four existing theories and understand its pattern in terms of usability, accessibility and connectivity. The theories selected have not been implemented in Indian context but identification of the basic layers of the planning system which are commonly considered have been used for the study.

Sector Theory Homer Hoyt

  • City develops in series of sectors instead of rings.

  • As the city grows the activities expand outward in wedge.

  • More realistic than concentric zone model.

  • Land use within each sector is kept the same, uniform land use pattern sector wise.

  • The central business district is located in the center of the model.

  • All activities placed in the sector serve a particular function.

Table-4

Source-Google

Sector Theory Homer Hoyt

  • City develops in series of sectors instead of rings.

  • As the city grows the activities expand outward in wedge.

  • More realistic than concentric zone model.

  • Land use within each sector is kept the same, uniform land use pattern sector wise.

  • The central business district is located in the center of the model.

  • All activities placed in the sector serve a particular function.

Table-4

Source-Google

Focus

User Preferences (Based On)

Exploration of 4 Urban Design Theories

Post-COVID

Post-COVID

With Respect to User Movement

Tracing Relevance of Archaic Patterns of Urban Design Theories

Tracing Relevance of Archaic Patterns of Urban Design Theories

Table.1

With Respect to Usability and Connectivity

Multiple Nuclei Theory Harris and Ulman

  • The theory reflects decentralization.

  • CBD is not the nucleus of the modern city which leads to emergence of multiple nuclei.

  • Nuclei are disconnected and are not dependent on each other.

  • Conflicting land uses have been kept apart. Eg. High Cost Housing and Industries.

  • This model led to several independent points of prominence.

Table-3

Source-Google

Multiple Nuclei Theory Harris and Ulman

  • The theory reflect decentralization.

  • CBD is not the nucleus of the modern city which leads to emergence of multiple nuclei.

  • Nuclei are disconnected and are not dependent on each other.

  • Conflicting land uses have been kept apart. Eg. High Cost Housing and Industries.

  • This model led to several independent points of prominence.

Table-3

Source-Google

Source-Author

EXPLORATION OF URBAN DESIGN THEORIES

The four archaic urban design theories considered for the purpose of exploration based on its land use, connectivity and usability were selected as follows-

  1. Central Place Theory- Walter Christaller

  2. Multiple Nuclei Theory- Harris and Ulman

  3. Sector Theory- Homer Hoyt

  4. Concentric Zone Model- Ernest Burgess

The basic concept and pattern of these theories were studied and the relevance of same theories in the pandemic situation was tested considering the user preferences.

Central Place Theory Walter Christaller

  • The urban hierarchy of settlements is based on the functions available in the settlement.

  • Functions and services attract people from urban areas and remote areas.

  • Every urban center has an economic reach.

  • Places of same size are spaced same distant apart.

  • The theory illustrates how settlements locate in relation to one another.

  • Hierarchy of settlement-Hamlet, Village, Town and City.

Table-2

Source-Google

Concentric Zone Model Ernest Burgess

  • The city grows and develops outwardly in concentric zones.

  • The inner most zone or nucleus is the CBD, followed by industries and then housing zone.

  • Population density decreases towards outward zones.

  • This theory shows the relation between socio-economic status and distance from central business district.

  • Formation of zones is based on accessibility in distance to city center.

Table-5

Source-Google

TRACING THE PATTERN

The exploration of four urban design theories provides a base for studying the common pattern in all the above listed theories. All these theories have been fragmented into different zones namely- Central Business District, Factories, Housing, commuter zone etc. The function and activity taking place in each zone is specific and categorically placed. All these zones are well connected to each other and create an interdependent platform.

Tracing the Pattern

Usability/Function Connectivity Land Use

Specific/Confined Transition from zone to

zone

Segregated

Source-Author

The familiar pattern traced out in all the four theories can be categorized under three heads- Usability or Function, Connectivity and Land use. It can be seen that in all the four theories the usability pattern is specific or confined to a particular zone, while the connectivity pattern stresses on transition from one zone to other zone known as zone of transition and the land use pattern emphasizes more on the segregation of spaces within each zone.

USER PREFERENCES SURVEY

The survey was conducted in two stages, each stage was further sub-divided into two parts (Part-A and Part-B). Part-A form was posed with questions in pre-COVID scenario and Part-B form was posed with questions in post-COVID scenario.

Tracing the pattern

Table-6 Source-Google

Tracing the pattern

Table-6 Source-Google

In the first stage of survey the users dealt with gathering information related to their travel and accessibility pattern of each zone. The list of zones was tabulated in the questionnaire form and the users were asked to fill the maximum accessed zones during a week and during weekends. This helped in mapping the usability pattern of the users in both pre-COVID and post-COVID scenario.

In the second stage of survey the users were posed with the common pattern studied from the four archaic urban design theories and were then posed with questions based on connectivity and land use pattern. The information regarding user preferences in terms of connectivity and land use pattern was gathered in the second part. The relevance of age-old patterns was enquired and possible recommendations were postulated.

User Preferences Survey

Tracing the pattern

Table-7 Source-Google

Tracing the pattern

Table-7 Source-Google

Stage-1 Stage-2

Part-A Part-B

(Pre-COVID) (Post-COVID)

Usability Usability

Traced Common Pattern of Urban Design Theories

Millennials(25-35) Gen-X(35-45)

(Relevance of age-old patterns enquired in post- COVID scenario in connectivity of zones)

SELECTION OF USER GROUP

The users being the common people residing in any urban region from India were considered for conducting the survey. The users were categorized in two groups as- Millennials Group and Generation X Group lying in the bracket of 25-45 age group. The millennials group considered in bracket of 25- 35 age and the generation-X group considered in the bracket of 35-45 age. The user group selected for filling the survey questionnaire form were majorly from these six cities namely Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Nagpur. A total group of 180 users were considered in order to acquire the qualitative data, around 30 users from each city was considered to generate the responses for the user preferences survey report.

Information on user accessibility pattern in zones Probable Recommendations Postulated

ANALYSIS OF SURVEY DATA

The data of 180 users from different urban areas was collected and assessed in the table given below. The qualitative data was assessed in the two stages of survey.

It is clearly seen from the Survey of stage-1 graph that the major user movement lies in residential, institutional and commercial zones. This movement requires transition from one zone to another using the network of transportation, so the zone of transition connects all the segregated zones together. Though in Post-pandemic scenario there is a change in this movement pattern as the user preference has slightly changed from being dependent on movement from zone to zone, to being confined to a single zone. The user preference attempts to fetch major usability resources in and around the same zone, rather than travelling from one zone to another. Hence, as the graph of Survey Stage-1 indicates the percentage drop in Part-B activities is clearly visible. This in turns reduces the need for dominance of a particular zone over another, as there is a distinctive change in the accessibility pattern amongst the users. The graph also indicates clear difference in the usability patterns in the zones during weekdays and weekends.

This leads to the second part of survey, where the common pattern studied from the four archaic theories were listed in the survey form and the users were asked on their perspective and preferences to assess the relevance of those age-old theories in the current post-pandemic times. The part-A survey had generic data of all users responding as per their usability patterns within the zones. While the part-B survey includes opinions of two groups-Millennials lying in the age group of 25-35 and Gen-X lying in the age group of 35-45 on their preferences, as there is a possibility of change in opinion with varied age groups.

As all the four theories explored have a common pattern that emphasizes more on segregation of spaces as per their function in form of zones. So, zoning or categorization or segregation plays a major role in evolution of each of the theory. The user movement is governed by these specific segregated zones. Hence, the users were posed with set of questions to inquire their preference based on the current method of segregation or need for new method of integration.

The below user preferences graph clearly indicates that in pre- COVID scenario the millennials and Gen-X both preferred segregation and zoning, while in the post-COVID scenario the responses in the graph depict a distinctive difference in the user preferences. Both the age groups prefer integration of spaces.

User Preferences

180

160

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

0

Segregated Integrated

User Preferences

180

160

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

0

Segregated Integrated

CONCLUSION

The work presented in the paper aimed to contribute towards the exploration of four age-old urban design theories and access its relevance in the present post-pandemic context based on the user preferences. The qualitative data generated from the survey clearly indicate that the old pattern of segregation of spaces in form of zones is less preferred by the users in the present scenario. Rather major number of users prefer integration of spaces considering the ease of functionality and movement in the present post-COVID scenario. The paper further tries to provoke the thought of creating self-sufficient and self-reliant integrated zones in small pockets spread over the urban region, which will increase the functionality of each small pocket with reduced dependency on zone of transition from one zone to another.

REFERENCES

  1. Ahmed S. Abd Elrahman, Moureen Asaad, Urban design & urban planning: A critical analysis to the theoretical relationship gap,Ain Shams Engineering Journal,Volume 12, Issue 1,2021

  2. Abbas M. Hassan, Hyowon Lee, Uoosang Yoo, Evaluation of the contemporary urban design through the classic urban theories: Cairo and Gwangju downtown as a case study, HBRC Journal,Volume 10, Issue 3,2014

  3. Finding Lost Space: Theories of Urban Design, By Roger Trancik

  4. Urban morphology and the problem of themodern urban fabric: some questions for research A Levy – Urban morphology, 1999 – urbanmorphology.org

  5. Place Identity: Symbols of self in the urban fabric

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