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LEARNING FROM INDIA’S CITIES

Last month, Allies and Morrison’s Alfredo Caraballo and Daniel Elsea travelled to India to participate in the Van Alen Institute’s International Council meeting, held in Mumbai the week of 12 November.

With the theme of ‘building blocks of urban citizenship,’ the Council looked at three case studies in the city in which Mumbai’s citizens were facing urban liveability challenges: 1) the potential for upgrading of interstitial public spaces in the Edwardian Ballard Estate; 2) opportunities to enhance social connectivity between slums and newly constructed housing projects in the north-eastern district of Mankhurd; and 3) a rethinking of Mumbai’s overall mass transport infrastructure. The Council divided into three teams, one each led by Alfredo and Daniel, to generate ideas in charrettes held at the School of Environment and Architecture (SEA) which were then presented to representatives of Mumbai’s civil society, property and built environment sectors. The Council also visited local architectural practice Studio Mumbai and urban planners StudioPOD.

Alfredo then travelled on to Bangalore to deliver a keynote lecture at the BMS College of Architecture at the school’s annual inter-collegiate architecture festival. His talk covered the role of tall buildings in changing cities, drawing on examples learned at the practice’s projects in both London and Toronto, stressing the importance of context, culture and composition in the design of towers, either standalone or in an ensemble.

In an interview with the Indian newspaper, The Hindu, Alfredo remarked, ‘Cities are increasingly becoming generic in the manner they are planned, making it difficult to determine which culture they belong to…Bring contextual difference into our buildings so there is legibility. If everyone wants iconic structures, our cities will cease to look different’.

The practice’s second project in Bangalore is coming to completion, Miraya Rose (pictured first above) is a new residential development in the city’s historic Whitefield neighbourhood.