ISLAMABAD: In light of the fast-changing landscape of the capital owing to rapid urbanisation, a body of architects in Islamabad have called for revisiting the master plan of the city, with due input from expert urban planners and professional architects.

In this regard, they put forward a number of proposals to bring Islamabad at par with other major cities of the world.

Members of the Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP), along with other architects including Kabir Malik, Haroonur Rashid, Muhammad Attique and Fahim Gilani, held a joint news conference at the National Press Club (NPC) on Sunday.

The architects said that master plans of cities are supposed to be revisited and revised after a certain period of time has passed. The master plan for Islamabad was supposed to have been revisited in the 1980s and again in the 2000s, but this was never done.

“There is a need to revisit the capital’s master plan, which is long overdue,” said IAP Chairman Hammad Husain.

Pointing to the vast change in the capital in the past 20 years, the architect gave an example of the current state of traffic in the city, noting that no one could have imagined its current state when the master plan was drawn up.

Criticising the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for changing building by-laws without considering long-term impacts, the architects said that the authority should ensure that changes to the rules control urban sprawl and that it should not affect the urban design of the master plan. Furthermore, the change in rules should ensure that floor area ratio (FAR) of the plan remains intact.

“Our structure of [utility] services cannot meet requirements of high-rise buildings,” Rashid complained while commenting on the new trend of building high-rises in the capital. He claimed that these structures could also contribute to high crime rates.

Earlier, Husain said that Islamabad was one of the few planned capitals of the world. He added that there were certain issues plaguing the city which needed to be addressed by the authorities to turn Islamabad into a developed capital.

In this regard he pointed to the observances of Enrique Penalosa, the Mayor of Bogota, who visited Karachi last year. Penalosa, Hussain said, had pointed out that the port city was designed for the small elite that owned cars and that there were very few rights for pedestrians.

“The same is true for Islamabad,” the IAP chairman said, adding that the capital was not pedestrian friendly as it lacks footpaths or walkways along many major roads.

“Every morning students, office workers and labourers can be seen walking on the roads, risking their lives. If one wants to walk from Faisal Mosque to the Blue Area, or from Zero Point to Faizabad, he will have a very hard time with fast traffic and no walking space,” he said.

Hussain added that traffic planning was the job of traffic planners but traffic engineering was not, but in Islamabad, it is being handled by the traffic police, who are only supposed to enforce traffic laws. He pointed to the temporary barriers and obstacles placed on the roads to block them or divert traffic without any warning markers.

The architects urged the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz to entrust traffic planning to qualified traffic engineers.

Further, the architects also urged the CDA to ban all rooftop billboards before progressing to ban and remove roadside billboards as well as to maintain Islamabad’s serenity.

They also urged the authority to build and maintain public toilets in all commercial areas, parks and residential areas.  CDA was also requested to engage professional architects by IAP to add creativity and aesthetics to Islamabad.