Public realm, neighbourhood concept, streetscape, underutilized spaces
The Public Realm, an interface between the public and the private, is a vital aspect of the built environment that helps to give a city its identity. Despite being a highly significant contributor towards shaping the urban life and the quality of urban spaces, the fact remains that the concept and idea of meaningful public realm remains largely ignored, especially within neighbourhoods with their series of unmaintained and misused public spaces. Such is the case of the Modern Housing Complex at Manimajra, Chandigarh, where the planned open spaces and parks have been increasingly converted into parking lots, garbage yards with uncontrolled vegetation, or spaces that promote antisocial activities, all of which together affect the livability and attractiveness of the ‘model’ colony.’ This paper is based on a study of Manimajra’s Modern Housing Complex, that was undertaken in 2012-13. The objective was to focus on the public realm and to devise design strategies for a livable neighbourhood through a community-based vision for an improved, high quality Public Realm making the neighbourhood more vibrant, safe and a truly liveable place. The study was based on an understanding of how the physical pattern and organization of a neighborhood influences perception and understanding of public places, multiple forms in which public places are manifested, different ways in which public places are understood, and various manners in which public places are used. The study reinforced the notion that the design, condition and quality of the neighbourhood streets and spaces have a major impact on the quality of its inhabitants’ life, and their careful designing and quality development can help to create successful public places.