Structuring public place through the design of access systems : the design of urban public place, an addition to the "New Market" of Calcutta, India
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The addition and re-design of a 19th century covered market in the heart of Calcutta, India, is the design project to explore the larger topic of place-making within a specific culture. In Calcutta the divisions of society within the city are becoming increasingly polarized along the lines of religion and wealth, creating a real need for a public place accessible to income and class groups from all over the city. The 'ground level' public spaces of colonialism-parks and gardens-have been taken over by the city's poor. The only zone of interaction for the city's varied population is the street; a few 'street-like' built spaces-covered street-edge arcades and the· 'interior streets' of the city's covered markets still function as public places, creating a civic collective realm. An analysis of these public places shows that rather than a static conception of public place as open 'plaza' or 'square' (which would most likely be built upon and privatized), the routes of access- the 'interior' streets-within these places are used as public places. At a small scale, a variety of environments are created by local intensifications of the access zones. At a larger scale, differentiation in the access (or 'interior street') network creates differential degrees of access that serve the needs of various groups still remaining public at the collective size. The thesis proposes that the static polarities of 'public' and 'private' space be replaced by looking at the continuum of differential access that creates particularity within the built environment, yet structures the experience as a whole. In Calcutta, the complex divisions within society are congruent with the need for the fine gradiations of accessibility that are seen in the built environments of its public places. It is the need for different degrees of accessibility that differentiates the design of public place in Calcutta from that in Western society. The architecture of Hermann Hertzberger and Aldo Van Eyck has done much to reformulate the idea of public place as 'interior streetscape'. To underscore the difference with the Indian context, the thesis examines the assumptions of individual and collective that are implicit in their designs. The thesis also analyzes the intricate degrees of accessibility created by the access systems of traditional Indian built environments at the collective size. Drawing from these sources, the design project focuses on the design of addition to the old covered market as public place, focussing on the design of the access system as the organizational structure of the built environment. Through the design of the built environment's access system the aim is to accommodate the often conflicting needs of groups within it as well as allow for it's collective use.
Thesis (M. Arch.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1995.Includes bibliographical references (leaf 88).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology