Creative Urbanism in Indian Cities

Very recently, I wrote a longish article for a Swedish publication titled as ‘Celebrating Informality in Indian Cities’. The point that I have made in this piece is that the ‘informal’ in our cities are often regarded as ‘unplanned’, ‘illegal’ and ‘encroaching’, yet they continue to serve a very essential function of creating multi-functionality in urban space. For example, a road become a vegetable market in the morning, a streetside eatery in the evenings, while serving as a carriage way during the day. Every festival season, the road sides are converted into makeshift pandals that showcase rare creative talents like moving mythological scenes. While all this plays havoc with the ideals of conservative urban planning,  I have asked the question – Why Not? Why are we modern, Indian urban planners actually planning for these creative informal inputs.

Recently I read an interesting article by Oli Mould (, where he argues that its time urban planners make way for temporary creative urban development projects or ‘pop up urbanism’ in cities. He speaks predominantly about European and American cities which are now experimenting with ‘creative urban inputs’ to revitalize neighborhoods and cities.

To quote his parting sentence, Oli Mould says, “By allowing planners and architects the opportunity to create rough edges, design spaces that don’t have any specific commercial operation and to facilitate places that encourage engagement; cities will become places less about security concerns and consumerism, and more about citizenship, creativity and play.”

I thus continue my argument that this ‘pop up urbanism’ is what we already have in Indian cities. Every corner is creatively addressed by local communities. In our quest toward planning modern, efficient and sanitized cities, will we, Indian Planners, forgo the creative expressions of the community that is making the cities more people friendly, less consumeristic and vibrant?

Once again, this point is controversial. Efficiency and discipline, two requirements of a public space, is seriously compromised when ‘creative’ inputs come from citizens, isn’t it? While, creative urbanism ensures vibrancy, there is a serious lack of efficiency to put it mildly, and utter chaos, to put it bluntly. But if these are the aspirations of the people, how can planners and urban governance officials address it so that the city retains a semblance of order and yet displays creative or pop up urban quality.

No Comments

Post A Comment