In 2019, approximately 1/3rd of the Indian population lived in urban areas. It is estimated that by 2031 the rate of urbanisation is expected to hit 35% and by 2051 more than half of the country’s population will be living in the largest cities with population more than 1 million people.
“The combination of rising aspirations and growing middle classes on the one hand and inadequate planning for the inevitable increase in urbanisation on the other is creating a situation that is socially, financially, and environmentally unsustainable (Gore & Gopakumar, 2015).
What we must understand is that regions that are non-urban today are potentially the ones that will grow to accommodate 1 million people in the future. The day is not far when the issues urban agglomerates face today are visible in towns and villages that are neglected in the planning process currently. The rapid rate of urbanisation indicates that planners and urban policy makers must devote resources to identifying potential issues and preparing small towns and villages for the future.
The objective of Shared Spaces is to collaborate with stakeholders in 2nd and 3rd Tier Indian cities, particularly Urban Local Bodies, to assist them in implementing planning policies to address the following three key issues facing our cities today:
1. Inequality in Housing and the Built Environment:
With 1% of the population owning 73% of the wealth in the country, India is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Spatially, this translates into the lack of affordable infrastructure for people belonging to low-income groups. One of the primary consequences of this inequality is the lack of affordable housing, which is visible in the form of slums in every urban region in the country. As small cities continue to expand, levels of inequalities continue to rise and thus, there is an urgent need to prepare these cities for the infrastructure requirements of the future. This would involve housing, water, electricity, energy and transportation requirements of low-income groups.
2. Absence of Gender-Based Awareness in Planning Practices:
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, one woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. While the reasons for this alarming rate can be attributed to cultural and social elements, insensitivity to gender-based requirements in policies contributing to spatial development is a key contributor to this issue. Our objective is to develop inclusive policies to make public spaces safe for people of all genders. This aspect of our work would involve the designing of streets, parks and transportation hubs as inclusive spaces. We also work on promoting female and transgender led businesses and entrepreneurs.
3. Lack of Sustainable Policies in City Development:
Climate change is an imminent threat to our cities, as has been visible in the form of recurring floods in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttarakhand and many other regions of the country. In order to prepare our cities better for these potential disasters, we need to develop comprehensive plans to mitigate issues of climate change at local levels.
1. Research and Analysis:
We conduct extensive primary and secondary research on the aforementioned topics as per requirement. In terms of primary research we undertake surveys, mapping, data collection and analysis (both quantitative and qualitative) of the same. We also conduct extensive literature studies in existing knowledge available on the topics for any study we undertake.
2. Stakeholder engagement:
We believe that in order to implement the aforementioned changes there is a need for a united effort through partnerships between all stakeholders. In order to do so, we are engaged in developing a comprehensive list of potential partners based on technical and regional expertise. We are constantly on the look out for partnerships with like-minded organisations, hence if you believe there is a scope for collaboration with Shared Spaces please feel free to reach out to us.
3. Participatory processes:
Our key principle that guides the work we do is that the purest form of knowledge that can drive solutions for the future comes from the ground. Thus, we engage with communities through participatory processes and toolkits in order to analyse needs and get inputs from the people who matter the most in any urban planning process.
We are available to consult on topics of our expertise in any part of India.