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Designing Indian Streets as Social Public Spaces - Contextual design and planning in Bangalore

Sneha Mandhan's (MCP '14) thesis explored how streets in India have traditionally been the public spaces around which social life has revolved. They constitute the urban public realm where people congregate, celebrate and interact. The hypothesis that forms the basis of this thesis is that there is a need to understand and design these urban streets as living corridors through which one perceives and understands the city, and the places where one has daily social encounters.

Using Bangalore as a case study, this thesis analyzes spatial and social forces that shape street experience and culture at the scale of the city, the locality, and the street itself. By performing a reconnaissance study and an analysis of the street patterns in fifteen localities within the city, along with a detailed spatial analysis and interpretation of four different types of streets, I shed new light on the social life of different types of streets, and suggest ways in which the stimuli for these social lives can be understood and used to formulate design guidelines for streets in Indian cities that are currently undergoing similar transitions in their development.

Through this process, she proposed a method to identify urban typologies that relate to the physical and social conditions that occupy the city, along with a set of criteria that can be used to assess, plan, and design streets that are more contextual in nature.