The Urban Design Studio focuses on Understanding the scale and intricacies of an urban area and synthesizing an interface of architecture that address the objectives like; Understanding the series and complexities of elements and layers affecting the growth, development, decay and overall character of an urban area, Identifying the projects as infill which enhance the overall experience of urban living and Designing the identified project with all architectural inputs learnt in previous years. The studio exercise aims to establish interactions between the river and the city through various layers of urbanism and further introducing some conscious architectural interventions to enhance the overall experience of Vishwamitri in Vadodara.
The data analyzed led to some of the common observations like; Water retention in a non-perennial river, Flooding in monsoons, neglecting the river, impermeable river banks, pollution, solid waste dumping, slum encroachment, illegal activities and other crime development on the neglected banks. On the contrary, the river has a very rich ecosystem having some of rare species of flora and fauna on its banks. Sayaji Baugh – historical and still functioning public park of Maharaja Sayajirao’s reign are the lungs of Vadodara. Vishwamitri is also one of the rare rivers with habitat of Crocodiles in such an urban area by having more than 250 reptiles as per the latest census. Geo- technical data analysis proves that the soil of the riverbanks is alluvial in most of the river length that is suitable for most of the urban activities and at the same time for the habitat of crocodile.
The Policy recommendations include preservation of eco-sensitive zones and proposing layers of public activity zones. The historical and religious importance of the river can be revived by redeveloping some of the old temples on the bank can also bring life to the river. A stretch of the river is proposed for public where recreational activities such as a community and science center, and multi-purpose pavilions for city exhibitions could be designed to attract more people towards the river.
Redevelopment of slums situated on the banks was one of the interventions proposed by the students, but the most crucial intervention was regarding the water retention in the river throughout the year and managing flood situations in the monsoon. Students came with some innovative ideas of rejuvenating the old water-channels to divert the water to the river, diverting all natural and artificial drains to STP before being released in the river.