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Activating Public Spaces

Transforming desolate corners into thriving social spaces, in a neighbourhood that lacks usable common areas, shows the potential of placemaking tools and community-led initiatives in this public housing colony

Many residents of Natwar Parekh Colony came from slums where open, common spaces used for play, leisure and other common activities were available. In contrast, in NPC, such spaces make up less than 18% of the area, and most of what does exist is encroached by water tanks, parking spots or makeshift commercial setups. By focusing only on physical structures and amenities, the residents’ quality of living and their social bonds deteriorate. The lack of common spaces has a profound impact on the community – both social and infrastructural. Through design interventions led by the community, CDA is attempting to demonstrate the potential in such spaces that will help the people recreate their sense of collective ownership.

Working with the youth of NPC, CDA’s team identified desolate spaces that could be activated through art and design-based interventions. What was formerly a dimly lit corner for illicit activities was transformed into a bustling public space with a vibrant mural, plants and benches. The space is kept clean, hasn’t been vandalized, and with the addition of lights has become safe and accessible at night. This has become a prime example of how collective ownership and maintenance of commons can be nurtured through low-cost, people-led placemaking initiatives.