Here’s a summary of the 4th meet of the Urban Design Collective!
The meet was attended by Vaijayanthi Chelladorai, Prem Balasubramanian, Sakthivel Shiva, Ranga Rohini C, Nishanti Panneer Chelvam, Shreelekha Lakshmipathy, Parmesh,Mahesh Radhakrishnan and yours truly.
In line with my previous post, this time we went outdoors and walked the campus grounds of the Theosophical Society in Adyar on Saturday, 28th January. The walk was refreshing to say the least and the Great Banyan Tree (Adyar Aala maram) was a sight to behold. There was child-like excitement on several occasions when we attempted identifying species of trees/shrubs… both pedestrian and exotic varieties.
We also encountered a bat habitat which was truly spectacular and straight out of National Geographic among other things such as snake skins, ant hills and a herd of cows peacefully chewing cud and completely oblivious to everything outside the walls of the campus. We also managed to enter a few of the scattered buildings… a meeting/ prayer hall, a Buddha shrine with a lotus pond and a small church and walked past one section of the grounds along the edge of the Adyar river. Would have been nice if there was physical access to the river but fencing and shrubs denied us the pleasure. In total we had spent approximately 2 hours in denial… having left behind all the chaos that is typical to the notion of urban in our cities.
When we finished we moved on to the Besant Nagar beach where we had a spirited discussion on the nature and typology of open spaces in our cities and the need for more such lung spaces as we move towards a more urbanized future. We debated the case of the Theosophical society grounds and whether it being out of bounds as a choice of open space to most people in the city was desirable or not. The irony was further emphasized because we were sitting on the beach which is the only real free-for-all public/ open space a city the size of Chennai and growing does have!! Do we have to stay content with just that?? Why don’t we demand more inclusive city scale public spaces? We also brainstormed on a few minor interventions that could be done to the Theosophical Society to make it more a part of the city’s urban fabric without compromising its privacy.
All in all, a fine evening.
Over and out.