Exploring Rural Urban Nexus through Planning Studio (B Plan II Sem 2019)

The absolute growth in number of towns and cities has been phenomenal in India over the past two decades, although the urbanization levels are still not more than 35% in conventional sense (Census 2011). It is being highlighted since sometime by scholars that the adage “India lives in its villages” no longer defines the rapid changes taking place at the demographic and at socio-economic levels especially with growing urban population, an increasingly diversified economy, and aspirational villagers in the influence zone of important urban areas (Gupta 2015; Pradhan 2012). This discourse has been guiding the nature of academic programmes related to development and planning in the country gradually taking focus away from purely rural contexts to urban. One may argue that this is rightly so since advent of information and communication technology, economic policies and connectivity has removed the silos of urban and rural from the socio-economic realm. However, despite these linkages it cannot be denied that the urban and rural still operate distinctly with respect to jurisdictions, environment, socio-cultural dynamics and quality of life. In this context, the Bachelor of Planning programme at the Institute of Architecture and Planning is one of the few undergraduate courses that still exhort the students to look towards micro-level hinterlands as the focal point of academic studio exercises. Moreover, it is a comprehensible scale of settlement pattern and community size to be working in the early years of undergraduate programme from where they move to the scale of bigger towns and cities in subsequent semesters. This year, the second semester (Ist year) B Plan students were asked to study and engage in planning exercise of four study villages in the outgrowth of Ahmedabad city which emerged with strong variations as an outcome of the study. Three of the four villages are also adopted ones by Nirma University as its mandate of social outreach and extension activities by the students. The objective of the study was primarily giving students an exposure to the rural areas thereby creating an understanding of the socio-economic and environmental dynamics especially as rural-urban nexus. The findings relate to the interesting phenomena in the area of demographic, socio-economic and land use changes over the last two to three decades. There are trails of primary sector activities which have seen a shift within themselves due to peri-urbanization while the increasing large-scale urban footprint put a question mark on long term survival of differently skilled villagers.

Author Prof. Aparna

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