Today, development in the form of metro trains is being juxtaposed with heritage structures of south Bombay
Citing the example of the foot overbridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road station that witnessed a stampede on September 29 in which 23 people were killed, leading architect and conservationist Rahul Mehrotra said “monofunctional infrastructure” should be done away with.
At the release of his book, “Ephemeral Urbanism”, at the NCPA on Monday, Mehrotra was answering a question regarding the stampede. He was asked, referring to big ticket projects like the bullet train, if all attention was being given to those who had it. Mehrotra said: “One is that, in a democracy, the only way things will move is if the people’s voices are heard on these matters… secondly, from a design perspective, the problem is caused by monofunctional infrastructure. We should just ban it.”
He said Infrastructure like foot overbridge that serves a single purpose, should effectively be banned. “Instead, we should embed infrastructure with enough space so that it is able to serve several functions. The FOB at the station should then be able to hold small shops, or vendors. And this cannot be done speculatively or retrospectively but only if infrastructure is carefully pre-planned. Flyovers are so tall that if a slab is inserted horizontally, the space underneath can serve a dual purpose of a night school or a night shelter. It also reduces the burden of population on available spaces in the city, which are already rapidly diminishing,” said the architect.
Today, development in the form of metro trains is being juxtaposed with heritage structures of south Bombay and many residents of such buildings are opposing it.
“It is too late for this debate. This is a problem of design, which wouldn’t have occurred if the role of planners and government was engaged simultaneously. Now, it has to be thought in terms of being a trade off,” he added.