Kochi, Ernakulam district, Kerala, India
achieving a liveable Kochi through reclaiming the public space on the road
The contemporary city is the result of a planning logic which considers efficiency to be its end result. It is, therefore, shaped by economic and political reasons, leaving other aspects of urban life such as leisure and socialisation to exist in-between.
This thesis proposes the creation of a liveable Kochi as a car independent city, where public transport and the pedestrian infrastructure provide a safer, more comfortable and more interesting mobility alternative to privately owned motorized vehicles.
Apart from the improvements to the walking experience itself, improving the walkability of a city has wider secondary effects. As Jeff Speck notes:
“Walkability is both an end and a means, as well as a measure. While the physical and social rewards of walking are many, walkability is perhaps most useful as it contributes to urban vitality and most meaningful as an indicator of that vitality.”
The effects of walkability positively impact other factors which contribute to the overall liveability of a place. Physical and mental health benefits, economic benefits, both for the city and the pedestrians who do not have to maintain vehicles, social benefits enabled by increased contact between people on the street as well as political effects in the creation of a more
The proposal combines a series of regulatory and infrastructural measures which aim to discourage the use of the car and invite people to walk more.
At the city level, a series of large capacity parking facilities at key points of entering the city create a park-and ride system which aims to keep traffic out of the city centre. This is combined with an extended public transport system which facilitates access in the city
In Ernakulam, vehicular access requirements and integration modelling were used to create a pedestrianisation pattern and a one-way vehicular system. Most streets in Ernakulam were pedestrianised or transformed into shared space, keeping 3 East-West vehicular corridors in addition to the external one-way loop.
At the level of the streets, utilities were eliminated from the street, creating more space for the expansion of the public space on the street. The public utilities, street furniture and planting contribute to a more comfortable walking experience. All design choices were made with accessibility and efficient drainage in mind, influencing especially the paving choices.
While infrastructural in nature, this project highlight the blurred lines of architecture, showing how design thinking has the potential to create appropriate responses to problems of all scales. At the same time, the strategic mindset applied in urban design proves to be of great value at the smallest scales of detail design also.
I am a part 2 architectural assistant, having completed my BSc and my MArch at the WSA. My interest lies in urban design, with both my master’s thesis and dissertation tackling the role of the personal automobile in the development of urban form and urban life. I like to approach design problems from a playful point of view, regardless of the scale of the intervention. At the same time, I approach all sides of a project (including strategic and technical) with a design-centred perspective, looking to find holistic solutions.