Mumbai: Re-imagining street markets after lockdown

Updated: Jun 26, 2020, 07:36 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Bandra-based architects and urban planners create six modules that could help address issue of public spaces; work began on first phase almost a fortnight ago at Grant Road's Bhaji Galli

The circles painted at Bhaji Galli, Grant Road
The circles painted at Bhaji Galli, Grant Road

About six weeks ago, a group of architects and urban planners belonging to the Bandra Collective created six modules that could help address the issue of public spaces post the COVID-19 lockdown. In its first phase, the collective, which designs public spaces pro bono with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), re-imagined street markets with a single aim: maintaining safety in the early period post the lockdown.

Work began a fortnight ago on the implementation of the first module that comprises physical distancing circles — painted yellow on the road adjoining shops at Grant Road's Bhaji Galli. The circles allow people to effortlessly maintain physical distancing, even in crowded markets. The circles also show them how to move, where to queue for shops and vendors, and keep safe from vehicular movement. The circles can also be implemented at other public spaces such as bus stops, railway ticket counters, kids play areas and hawker zones.

Circular grid to help

"At Bhaji Galli, we are looking at implementing a strategically designed circular grid, with additional demarcated walking space in between, complemented by effective signages that communicate its usage to the pedestrians," said Samir D'Monte of SDM Architects. He added, "In the coming weeks, we aim to scale it up in D ward as well as implement it at August Kranti Maidan and at Napeansea Road and Walkeshwar. We are also in touch with Asif Zakaria, Municipal Councillor of H West Ward, and will implement it at Pali Market in the coming week. Pali Market, with a similar context as Bhaji Gali, will follow a similar strategy for implementation."

Alan Abraham of Abraham John Architects said, "To just put out signs with text is hugely ineffective. Instead, we believe that simple tactical design measures are more communicative in guiding people and have based the design of the modules on this understanding."

The designers and architects believe that in order to ensure maximum efficiency, all six of the modules, along with effective monitoring, will help maintain law and order. As of now only one module i.e. the circles has been implemented.

Going in circles

Speaking to mid-day, Prashant Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner of D Ward, said, "These architectural designs will help since we are in the unlocking phase now and people need to be reminded of the social distancing norms. As of now, people are following social distancing at Bhaji Galli, we are also planning on implementing the circles idea at Girgaum Chowpatty."

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