Image via The Hindu Business Line
Capital cities worldwide have two sides: they offer the best of everything – restaurants, amenities, accommodations, public transport, education, employment opportunities and much more; on the other hand, you also spend endless hours waiting in traffic, cramped living quarters, noise, air, and water pollution, improper waste management… this list goes on.
Is it possible to create a world-class modern city in a developing country without the negative aspects? History rolls her eyes, but that’s what, Amaravathi, the upcoming capital of Andhra Pradesh, hopes to do. Yes, it’s a highly ambitious plan. But the plan is to build India’s first truly world-class city, a model for smart cities in the digital age.
The Do’s That Have Been Done
The Andhra Pradesh government has managed to rope in Norman Foster, one of the world’s leading contemporary architects, to design the futuristic city. Foster’s firm Foster + Partners is in charge of designing the city centre which includes the State High Court and Assembly, along with several buildings that will house the state administrative apparatus.
The design will incorporate the most cutting-edge research and methodologies on sustainable cities, adapted to suit Indian requirements as well as aesthetic and cultural sensibilities. The design takes into account Amaravathi’s Buddhist roots by designing the High Court building along the lines of a stupa. The cityscape inspirations range from Lutyens’ New Delhi, Cental Park in New York City, and London’s Trafalgar and Duke of York Squares- all culturally cosmopolitan cities in their own unique ways.
Expect lots of green spaces, large shaded walkways that get people to rely on their legs instead of their wheels, use of solar energy panels throughout the city, dedicated cycle tracks for intra-city transport, electric vehicles and a great deal more.
Foster’s team has got the initial plan right by focusing on sustainable development. The site is on the banks of the river Krishna, which ensures a reliable freshwater supply. 51 per cent of the cityscape is envisioned as green space and another 10 per cent as water bodies (including waterways paralleling the major roads to facilitate water transportation).
Additionally, the state government has brought in Surbana Jurong, a Singapore-based urban consultant team. They are focused on creating jobs and homes for all of the city’s citizens. Surbana Jurong is also a consultant in several smart projects across India.
The new capital builds on the ancient idea of Navratnas – nine different areas, with each denoting a specific functionality. Some of the areas include – education city, tourism city, health city, financial city, government city, knowledge city, and sports city. The city development will benefit six neighbouring towns like Vijayawada, Guntur, and others creating an urban—peri-urban landscape, emulating Delhi and the surrounding NCR region.
In a nutshell, Amaravathi aims to emerge as India’s first fully-sustainable city, with world-class infrastructure and efficient resource management.
Will the Andhra Pradesh government be able to pull it off? That remains to be seen. But plans and funding are both there, so hopefully this will turn out to be just as magnificent (and smart!) as it sounds.