Project Name: Khan Market Regeneration
Location: Khan Market, New Delhi.
Architects: Studio Symbiosis
Design Team: Ar. Britta Knoble Gupta and Ar. Amit Gupta
One of the key challenges of urban intervention emphasises on creating a language which gauges with the multi-dimensional aspects of scale, users and the physical extent of the project. The Khan Market redevelopment proposal aims to model these aspects into a unified whole; instilling into the space, a sense of congruence based on the idea of ‘Harmonic Pixels’. Creating a distinct homogenous vocabulary to enhance the spatial quality, the use of ‘pixilation’ was done, animating the archetypical market into an experience of leisure.
Initiated by the government of India, ‘The Khan market’ venture was once a small business programme instigated as an opportunity to the people displaced during partition, after Independence. Today, it is considered as one of the most expensive retail high street in the world, transforming into a fashion cum food hub with an array of well-known brands and restaurants.
In the past six years, much has changed for this friendly neighbourhood market, which now boasts the remarkable development of an Indian urban space but also reflects the frequently visible problems of any average, over-crowded Indian Bazaar.
Citing an increase in new business and a changing market place, the experience of shopping in Khan Market currently remains overshadowed by extreme parking problems, sewer stench, uneven walkways, draughts of air-conditioning vents and kitchen exhausts to name a few. What is not so evident, yet apparently persists as a major fire hazard are the narrow staircases; inadequate for the exodus of people sitting in the restaurants, also portraying a total disregard for the elderly and physically challenged to access them.
The redesign proposal for Khan Market by studio symbiosis ensues a sense of rhythm and pattern into the presently disparate space, creating a symphony through gradients and vertical/horizontal movement. The concept for the proposal explores different spatial layers of movement, activity zones, recreation zones and elements of social interaction and also it’s treatment as an urban insert with the ambiance of an open Indian bazaar.
A multi-level, underground parking was proposed below the plaza to cater to the congestion caused due to parking of vehicles in and around the periphery of the structure. This would eventually free the surrounding area of the pollution, clutter and give the adjacent landscape, the attention it deserves.
The Urban plaza proposed above the parking, at the centre of the existing C shaped structure, was planned with the aim of providing a relaxation point amidst the bustling periphery of the major activity zone; and in the process transforms into a much needed relief space. It is essentially intended to be an element of a social layer where events, interactions and gatherings can be held in the evening, adding a communal sense to the surrounding shopping area.
Following the concept of harmonic pixels, this main urban plaza is formed by the combination of various layers of different elements, all of different gradation. The elements of water, light, grass and pavement would be laid along the central main plaza with varying gradation, all of which is derived from the demographic study and existing movement patterns of the people visiting the market. Retaining the old trees and landscape, adding street furniture and fountains.
Currently the narrow steep staircases and closely spaced walkways for the upper level restaurants are inadequate in case of fire or emergency, hence integrating fire exit staircases is a major necessity. An addition of an urban corridor to the Upper level plaza in the form a balcony was made; this corridor/balcony would quintessentially serve the dual purpose of connecting both the levels and facilitating horizontal and vertical movement. The proposed balcony or walkway would be connected to the lower level with staircases, lifts and an escalator at regular intervals.
Complementing the ideology of pixilation, this balcony will have varying depths to reduce the monotony of the walkway, broadening at the corners and intervals. The depth will differ based on the required occupancy of the restaurants and need of the shoppers.
The presently unused terrace would function as a service zone which would free the lower level walkways of the existing clutter of the air conditioning units and the wiring associated with it. The air conditioning units would be taken on the roof top and shared if possible amongst two or three units, making the experience of navigating through the lower level lanes more pleasant.
The proposal goes beyond the confines of simple problem solving, as it rightly questions the treatment of a public space catering to such a wide audience with varied tastes and sensibilities, transforming the monotonous ‘Khan Market’ into a pleasurable haven for every shopaholic.
Studio Symbiosis is a multi-disciplinary architectural practice with focus on cutting edge contemporary architecture. ‘Symbiosis’ being a key term to the practice, reflects upon their ideals on the inter – relationship between architectural design and the surroundings at a global scale. Their architectural practice echoes the latest developments in building techniques, material systems, computational knowledge and the exploration of contemporary design forms deduced and translated into a formal building solution.
– Surabhi Verma, Volume Zero.