Updated: November 28, 2021 10:34:46 am
(Written by Grishma Patle)
The present plan of Chandigarh is based on the grid-iron pattern whose structure is defined by a carefully planned road network consisting of seven types of roads.
The Seven ‘V’s (Les Sept Voies) are:
V-1 ROADS: These are for fast moving traffic that connects Chandigarh to other towns. They have dual carriage-ways lined with trees and distinctive lighting that makes the approach to Chandigarh heart-warming.
V-2 ROADS: These are vehicular arterial roads. In Chandigarh that are identified as ‘Margs’. Madhya Marg and Dakshin Marg are the two principal V-2s of the city. They merge into the V-1s. Other important V-2s are Jan Marg, Himalaya Marg and Uttar Marg.
V-3 ROADS: These make the next layer of connecting vehicular roads binding the sectors to the arterial roads. The regular grid formed by the V-3 roads define each sector’s boundary.
V-4 ROADS: These bisect a sector and have shopping areas and other conveniences located along them. Connections with adjoining neighbourhood were made through these roads, forming one long continuous ribbon from east to west besides the bands of open spaces that cut across the sector in the perpendicular direction. The V-4 shopping streets cut through the sectors with shops on their southern side. They are placed keeping in the mind the direction of the sun so that anyone walking along the commercial area will always walk in shade.
V-5 ROADS: These are the circulation roads within a sector. They meander through the sector giving access to its inner lanes,
V-6 are access roads to the houses.
V-7 ROADS: These were planned to be the streets running through the middle of the sectors in the green areas. They are intended for pedestrian movement only. The bicycle tracks are conceptually planned to run parallel to these pedestrian pathways.
These 7 ‘V’s were planned in a manner for the city to have a comfortable pedestrian movement within and in between the sectors, while also permitting the benefits of fast movement for vehicular traffic. Because of this layout, the sectors are easily walkable – it barely takes 15 minutes to reach from one corner of a sector to its centre.
Le Corbusier likened this road network to the blood circulation system of the human body. This structured planning of the road network not only defines the urban pattern of Chandigarh but also filters the vehicular and pedestrian traffic in order to enable smooth movement throughout the city.
THE RANDHAWA TOUCH: It is notable how the character of the road network designed by Le Corbusier was further enhanced by the landscape plan devised by one of the most enterprising custodians of the city, M. S. Randhawa. Being an ardent botanist he specified the trees to be planted along the roads in different parts of the city on the basis of their form, foliage, colour of flowers and shape. To give a separate character to the streets each route is planted with a different colour of flowering tree along with fruit and other trees. The roads are therefore cladded with avenues of trees acting as a green buffer.
Over the years however, Chandigarh is witnessing many changes in its movement patterns. As per a recent survey, Chandigarh has the highest per capita ownership of motorised vehicles in the country. With an extensive growth in daily influx of cars, from within and outside the city, today Chandigarh is facing problems like heavy traffic on roads, long waiting periods due to congestion during rush hours and increasing demand for more parking spaces especially in the commercial pockets of all the sectors.
With the changing scenarios challenges are rising, but with challenges the authorities are trying to come up with solutions too. Some of the noteworthy projects undertaken recently include the laying of cycle tracks throughout the city to segregate the vehicular traffic to promote cycling as a more sustainable and comfortable experience (The cycle tracks were initially there in Le Corbusier’s plan as V-8s), the creation of an underpass from sector 16 connecting Rose Garden to sector 17 (this underpass has reduced travel time between these sectors without disturbing the main routes and has also become a hub of socio-cultural interactions) and introduction of smart and sustainable public transport systems such as smart bikes available in every sector, e-buses and e-rickshaws to make city more healthy and self-sustainable.
Le Corbusier planned this beautiful city sixty years ago with a very powerful vision. The road network that forms the structure of the city is one of the most successful aspects of its planning and continues to show the ability to adapt. But effective management of this change is becoming a necessity now. Various proposals such as flyovers and a metro system, are being put forth by the authorities. It is humbly suggested that keeping the strong heritage value of the city in mind, they should instead look at less intrusive solutions such as a strong public transport system which could include introduction of small buses for peak hours or maybe a tram line on strategic routes.
(The author is an Assistant Professor at CCA. The article is mentored by Ar. Saumya Sharma, Assistant Professor, CCA. It is a part of the series of fortnightly articles by students and faculty of CCA on the Making of Chandigarh)
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