Saddar Downtown Area Revitalization – Measures To Re-Establish Human Friendly Urban Centre

Sadar Karachi area

By Iqra Wazir

ARCHI TALKS is a series of events for Architects, Engineers, Consultants, Researchers, Academicians and representatives from the field where they gather and express their views, concepts, ideas on various topics. The core philosophy behind the sessions is “Sharing Knowledge-Building Future”.

The second session meet up was held at Agha Steel’s corporate office on August 12, 2017. The focus was on the project presented by the guest speaker Architect Hafeez Habibi, Partner CG. It also provided an opportunity for professionals belonging to different organizations for discussions andinteraction with each other.

The session was opened with recitation from the Holy Quran and a brief introduction of Agha Steel Industries’ by Owais Afridi Managing Brands at Agha Steel Industries followed. He highlighted the salient features and showed his gratitude to the guests for honoring the event with their presence. He announced that sessions will be held in future as well to bring forward the trending ideas and upcoming projects. He further requested the prestigious Architect Mukhtar Hussain on the floor to share his experience with Ar. Hafeez Habibi.

Mr. Mukhtar said that “From the first assignment that he did for me as a student to all the work I have seen from him until now is always a remarkable output. Having him at the helm of a project is a privilege for Karachi. He designs in aesthetical design language and forms, turning them into most innovative combination of structures and architectural requirements with logical solutions. Architecture always involves a lot of detailing and Hafeez has knack of achieving it.”

The event smoothly flowed towards the presentation by Hafeez on his project “Saddar Downtown Area Revitalization” under Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Program Directorate of Urban Policy and Strategic Planning Government of Sindh. The project is undertaken by the collaboration of WorldBankand GOS. The program aims to enhance public spaces in targeted neighborhoods, improve urban roads infrastructure for smooth mobility plus access to congested areas and increase city’s capacity to provide administrative services. The intent is to make Karachi a resilient metropolitan city with livable and green character.

The heart of the city Saddar and its environs i.e.; the inner city area has mixed Land use with progressively worsening Infrastructure, crumbling built environment and dilapidated Heritage Buildings.

Old town is known for its past glory and diverse character. The colonial stone buildings were maintained and public spaces were there in accordance with the needs of people inhabiting them. The rapid growth of population and infrastructure that continues to increase till date erased the shine of these areas and caused severe damage. The irresponsible attitude led to the present situation where the city has lost its identity, assets and glorious architectural character.

“The site includes Saddar, Pakistan Chowk and their environs. We intend to suggest appropriate planning and measure to re-establish the once vibrant and human friendly urban centre to shed this neglected and deteriorated physical environment of Old town. Burns Road is the most famous traditional food street which invites people from rest of the city still. However, the current physical environment is destroyed with the chaotic traffic, encroachments, no public facilities, ignorance towards needs of pedestrians and inadequate parking etc.

“We want to turn it into a destination and not a thoroughfare” – Habibi

Architect Hafeez Habibi presentation

The proposed development approach is a revolutionary deviation from the contemporary attitude with human as the prime factor. The vision is to design experiential spaces for pedestrians, up gradation of environment and free these areas from traffic interfering human flow. We have proposed design interventions that are characterized by their inclusive, accessible and comfort based designs that rely on creating places rather than structures. The educational and cultural zone including DJ Science College, National Museum and Arts Council will be uplifted with public square and recreational spaces.”

The interventions include minute detailing. Some of them are sports recreational complex, Pakistan chowk turned into piazza, Cultural streets, Elevated pedestrian piazza for administrative zone, Redevelopment of Aram Bagh and masjid. There will be places to hold academic events. The educational character of these active spaces shall encourage healthy behavior and intellectual development.

“We have linked different spaces with strong pedestrian Trail through plazas and landscaped shades of old trees. Regal chowk to pedestrianized commercial activity with typical ground level and pedestrianized street link with underground parking,Emphasized pedestrianized movement in part of Zainab market with parking in basements. Most important aspect of our design scheme is the rerouting strategy through which we will channelize the traffic, eliminate on street parking, support massive pedestrianization and reintroduction of trams/carts.

The term “Koocha-e-Ilm-o-Saqafat” is coined for the merger of Educational and Cultural Zone in our Design Scheme. Furthermore, He gave review of Planning Process of these areas.We are developing the Commercial, Food and Recreational zone, Communal zone, Administrative zones.”

After the presentation, the final session of the program was a deliberation on different aspects of the project. The question and answer among the speaker and guests proved to be highly informative and thought provoking. One such question was by Architect Komal Pervez regarding the preservation of heritage trees and landscape of the concerned areas. Mr. Hafeez Habibi highlighted the fact as an answer that preservation of trees is ensured in all design interventions and strategies. Another question was raised regarding the timeline of the scheme upon which it was cleared that it will be delivered in phases.

Proved to be the seamless opportunity for representation of individuals and bringing together the generations of Architects with the young professionals. The session was graced by professionals including Ar. Hafeez Habibi, Partner CG, Ar. Murtuza Shikoh, Editor ARCHI TIMES & A+I, Ar. Mukhtar Hussain, Managing Director at FNMH Architecture, Shoaib Arif, Professor King Fahad University, Saudi Arabia, Ar. Komal Pervez, Principal Architect at Landscape Architecture Studio, Ar. Mumtaz Jilani, Architecture & Planning Professional and Chief Architect at NESPAK, Ar. Khadija tul Kubra, Principal Architect at Design Studio, Ar. Saba Baig, Project Architect, Consultants Group, Ar. Mahwish Ghulam Rasool, Head at Interior Design Dept at Indus Valley School of Art And Architecture, Ar. Iqra Wazir, Owner Art Pallete Studio.

Mr. Hussain Agha, Executive Director, Agha Steel Industries was graced the event and showed his immense gratitude to the guests for making the meeting productive and sharing the information acquired through years of experience or education to support the initiative taken for the greater good. His enlightening statement “We make buildings and buildings makes us” showed the dedication of Agha Steel and? Industries to collaborate with Architects and Professionals.

Group of Architects

The Book “55 Architects of Pakistan” was presented to each guest followed by “signing the board” activity to enhance the essence of the collaboration and venture. The program was concluded with Independence Day celebrations by cake cutting ceremony and healthy discussions amongst guests.

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