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Bridging Public Space and Transit When Rethinking a Mumbai Junction

Six winners have emerged in a design competition, held by the BMW Guggenheim Lab, to improve a hellacious five-way junction in Mumbai.

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With nearly 20 million residents and a fast-multiplying number of cars moving them around, Mumbai, India is one of the world’s most traffic-clogged cities. A good place to observe the jumble is the five-way Kala Nagar traffic junction, on the city’s sprawling edge.

There, dense crowds jostle through public, commercial and retail space along a busy highway. Already, the city has invested in skywalks, buses and elevated expressways to battle the car traffic and pedestrian congestion. Yet bus stops remain packed, crowds overflowing onto the street and the skywalks and flyovers are seldom used.

For all these reasons, the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a traveling urban-focused ideas project, chose the site for a design competition.

Launched in November, the competition invited architects and designers to propose inventive solutions to the problem at Kala Nagar Junction. Six winners emerged, with three representing professionals in the field, two coming from students and one based on votes from community members and visitors to the Lab.

The judging phase was split into two categories, with a jury of experts in planning and urban development picking the top 10 design proposals from students and professionals. The 20 total submissions were then displayed last month at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, where guests touring the museum got to vote for their favorites.

The proposal that won top prize, by architect Radhika Mathur, emphasizes bolder and brighter colors for street signs and road markings, allocates spaces for pedestrians boarding buses and suggests beautifying unused space with consistent landscaping and gardening. The project design creates a functional site bridging together issues of transportation and public space in a city where 89 percent of residents use public transit.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority has commissioned the Mumbai Environmental Social Network to study a real-life redesign project, and it may invite a list of competition participants to become part of the process, according to the competition outline.

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Tags: infrastructurepublic transportationurban designcommutingmumbai

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