KALUPUR AREA URBAN INFILL AND CONSERVATION PROJECT AHMEDABAD, INDIA
AHMEDABAD AN HISTORICAL OUTLINE The City of Ahmedabad was founded after conquest of local territory in the 15 th century by Ahmad Shah Abdali on the banks of the Sabarmati River. It was later fortified by successive generations as a walled city that comprised of 12 gates initially and 189 bastions, growing eventually to 21 gates, 5 of which form an inner core around the Bhadra Fort. Over the next few centuries, the city grew steadily outgrowing the space within the city walls, spreading further outward even to the other side of the river. Eventually, most of the walls were removed, and today only the gates still stand, as well as a short section of wall also stands along the riverfront. The area within the boundary of the old wall is known today as the “old city”, and the difference will be easily visible to a visitor. The streets are far narrower, as they mostly predate motorized transport, and the city is organized into neighborhood units called pols. Lying on a trade route, it quickly became a prosperous commercial city, eventually adding industries like textile and fabrics that continue to flourish there during British rule in India. The old city gates still extant are the Shahpur Gate, Delhi Gate, Dariapur Gate, Prem Gate, Kalupur Gate, Panch Kuva Gate, Sarangpur Gate, Raipur Gate, Astodia Gate, Mahudha Gate, Jamalpur Gate, Khanjia Gate, Raikhad Gate, Ganesh Gate and Ram Gate. Each of the gates has beautiful carvings, calligraphy and some of them even balconies. Each is a unique island in the midst of the traffic, with people often sitting beneath them, and they lend an antique historical feel to the city, even as newer buildings have been built around them. Pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, rickshaws and cars still drive through them. However, many such sections of the walled city are threatened by the influx of new development at their edges between the gates. The inner core and traditional “pol” residential neighborhoods are preserved, but their fabric is constantly being eroded as a result of the diminished edge between new and old. This project addresses the edge of the old walled city near the Kalupur area between the Prem Gate and the Kalupur Gate, where an illegal vegetable market had begun to flourish along the deteriorated threshold between the old city’s traditional neighborhoods and the new commercial development beyond the point where the old city wall was broken down or buried under.
PROJECT LOCATION AND SUMMARY The walled city forms a ring of concentric and radial roadway networks. The radials lead towards the many gates and exit through them to the new city beyond. The inner core consists of mainly old traditionally planned neighborhoods that have grown organically around cul-de-sacs known as “pols”. These “pol” houses offer joint families a cosy enclave where generations flourish together socially. The architecture is rich in detail and responds to the harsh summer by means of narrow streets and screened balconies. Houses are planned around enclosed courtyards for privacy and daylight. The urban ground is profuse with local landmarks such as “chabutras” or pigeon perches that mark nodes of street intersections. This core is Ahmedabad’s heritage. This project is located between the Kalupur Gate and the Prem Gate. The 460 meter long site runs South to North, adjacent to the Kalupur Chokha Bazaar or Rice Market where wholesale traders do business outside the old city. To the south-east lies Ahmedabad Railway Station, linked to Kalupur by Station Road, an important arterial route. Local landmarks occur primarily around Kalupur Gate where a bastion remains extant, and its environs house the graves of local saints. Over time, the edge has eroded and the nodes have been cluttered with hawkers and their makeshift stalls that camouflage the area around the gate and bastion, threatening encroachment onto the grave sites. Deterioration has occurred in the architectural fabric that defines the edge . Several traditional houses have been converted into transport offices that serve an illegal vegetable market and draw a large volume of traffic onto this strip. The wall lies buried or depleted along the edge between the two gates, and over the mound of earth that covers it, lie a number of illegal shacks serving the vegetable traders. The inner core stands threatened by expansion of commercial activities along the edge as cross communication occurs between the truck companies and the market vendors. The mix of traffic includes handcarts, vans, trucks, scooters and rickshaws, while the pedestrian has lost a foothold in this congestion. The street is too narrow to handle the volume of traffic that the offices generate. The objectives of this project are primarily to legalize and rehabilitate the market vendors, provide orderly circulation routes and transitions, and arrest the expansion of commercial activity to the interior by providing alternate incentives.