Published on February 19, 2020

Ahmedabad: Hundreds visit famed Manek Chowk daily – some to shop for the jewellery, some to get the rare wedding ritual-related goods, mukhvas or simply to hog on the delicacies offered by the night food street. But how many notice the Baba Manek Nath temple – embedded in history of the city? Or the majestic colonial architecture of old stock market opposite Muhurt ni Pol, considered to be the first pol (planned community living spaces)? How many could enjoy the grandeur of Bashah no Hajiro and Rani no Hajiro in the vicinity while shopping for the imitation jewellery and trinkets?

It set off the tutors Mansi Shah, Kruti Shah and Vaishal Patel to lead a studio in monsoon semester at Cept University themed ‘Occupied: Graphic Anatomy of Everyday Urban’ where students explored six spaces in historic Ahmedabad city and suggested design interventions. The studio was among the five that were included in CEPT Excellence Award Exhibition 2020 that concluded recently.

“We did not get into conventional legal/illegal debate and also refrained from using word ‘encroachment.’ Motive of the exercise was to give sensitive solutions to the usages of these spaces with better seating spaces, removal of parking and dignified spaces for living and working,” said Mansi Shah, an architect and tutor for the course. “The outcome aims at restoring heritage value while ensuring that the city gets a good public space.”

For example, the integrated planning for Manek Chowk and Muhurt ni Pol suggested a performance area where a building currently obstructs the view of old stock market. It also suggested guided pathways and earmarked spaces for seating so that the visitors don’t feel the square as crowded.

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