Re-Thinking the Operation of Public Parks to Adapt with the 'New Normal'

Unlock Shivaji Park

A proposal to rethink Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park post lockdown.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park is the largest park in Mumbai; situated in the residential area of Dadar. This park along with its several cultural and historic

values has a great green space where on a given day, folks come to walk, jog, run, play, exercise or even sit on the low boundary wall called katta. It is a popular

hangout for all age groups. For running, there are paths of 1.2km on the perimeter of the 28 acre park. The walkway is lined with large rain trees.

Picture Courtesy: Studio Infinity

It is important for people to start living in a world with coronavirus in it, at least till the time a vaccine is formed for the same. With the ‘new-normal’ in order, it is also important to re-think certain spaces to fit with the current situation. With 'Unlock 1.0' in operation in Mumbai, public spaces are opening for public, and so is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park. Shivaji Park being the largest park with diverse culture and activities practiced on daily basis, it is essential to re-think how to operate the park activities with social distancing and safety, in order to prevent people to get sick.

Post Lockdown Condition, Credit: Spoonagency

It is also important to prioritize people’s mental and physical health. Exercise and relaxation — both of which are crucial activities for maintaining both physical and mental health.

Intent of the Project, Credit: Council for Relationships

Activities At Shivaji Park:

● Walking

● Jogging

● Running

● Cycling

● Exercise & Fitness

● Yoga & meditation

● Simply sit

● Talk in groups

● Sports


Aim:

● To re-think public space in a way that it keeps public comfortable as well as safe.


Objective:

● To develop a hyper-local model by implementation of social distancing.

● Creating more safe, roomy option for walking.

● To generate a sense of responsibility among public.

The Proposal

Aspects of the proposal:

● Segregation of pathways into tracks for walking and jogging.

● Making the tracks uni-directional.

● Adapt hyper-local programming for safe, physically distant norms by creating a physically distant block between tracks.

● Apply social distancing of 6 feet rule to these tracks.

● ‘X-ing’ out the spaces on benches.

● Marking Safe spots to sit on undisturbed seating like ‘katta’.



● Posting way-finding arrows and significant signage for people’s awareness.

● Dedicating selected portions for senior citizens only.

Site Plan

The proposal has been developed as a model for a public park where people

can walk, jog or sit without coming into contact with one another. The idea of the design is to split the existing two pathways which are separated by the Katta into four tracks, such that it forms two unidirectional tracks each; allowing people to enjoy the park while also following social distancing guidelines. Each track procures scales with six feet markings, organised alternatively in adjacent lanes. Only one person is ideally allowed into the six feet space at one time.

Such design is important because our habits are triggered by cues built into our physical environment. If everything looks and feels the same, we will habitually revert to old behaviors.


Proposal Drawings:

Proposed Site Images:

Signage:

In difficult times like these, signage plays an even bigger role than before. It is necessary to use the signs to communicate in a friendly way and not induce stress among people. For that matter, the colour palette and typography of signage is of utmost importance. When selecting the signage system, it is important to fully consider what is most important to the people who are returning to these spaces. It should be considered introducing friendly messages like ‘welcome back', ‘lets wash our hands to protect each other’ or ‘let’s wear masks’.


There needs to be constant reminder of the situation in order to keep the people aware. Signage like smart sitting spots must be implemented to direct people. Helpful signage like these makes people know that new measures have been implemented.


When used correctly, instructional signage, positive messages, and iconography can enhance the user experience. New signage and way-finding graphics, when thoughtfully implemented, can encourage practices to help people navigate in this new world.


Scope of the project:

● This project can be developed as a prototype and can be implemented in other parts of Mumbai.

● The project is estimated be completed within 7 working days from the date of commencement.

● The project is estimated to be valued between ₹5-7 lakhs.

● This amount may be evaluated with material sourcing, sampling (if required), designing of plans, policies, ideas and signage.


Conclusion:

The concepts of inclusion and social distancing seem contradictory. Despite today’s very real health need for us to keep physical distance from one another, psychologically – we need to be and feel connected more than ever to continue carrying out our philosophy of “people helping people.” In a city like Mumbai, social distancing is an oxymoron. But we can – and should – be social at a distance, especially right now. New Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park is going to be the place for exercising, decompressing, and socializing at a safe distance — especially for those at greatest risk of isolation and infection. By focusing on the user experience, we can ultimately transform this challenge into an opportunity, creating more enjoyable and connected places for everyone.


Proposal by: Ar. Chinmay Jawale, Ar. Saloni Shah & Ar. Pooja Jain


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