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In Central Vista revamp, firm to focus on trees that restore Lutyens era look

In a response to The Sunday Express, HCP Design, Planning and Management — the government’s consultant for the project — said it is working on a replantation strategy for trees which aims to, “in principle”, bring back the original design by Lutyens.

Written by Shivam Patel | New Delhi |
July 19, 2020 5:05:48 am
Central Vista revamp, focus on trees, restore Lutyens era look, Delhi news, Indian express news Old Jamun trees, predominantly planted in the Central Vista Avenue in the 1920s, are nearing the end of their lifecycle. (Archive photo)

Old Jamun trees, predominantly planted in the Central Vista Avenue in the 1920s as part of British architect Edwin Lutyens’ design, are approaching the end of their lifecycle and will be replaced as part of the area revamp, The Sunday Express has learnt.

In a response to The Sunday Express, HCP Design, Planning and Management — the government’s consultant for the project — said it is working on a replantation strategy for trees which aims to, “in principle”, bring back the original design by Lutyens.

“The trees that will need to be replaced will be the ones approaching the end of their lifecycle. The original tree palette had two major species, Jamun and Ficus. Mainly three types of Ficus were in the palette — Peepal, Banyan and the Wild Ficus. These three trees have an estimated lifespan between 200-500 years. While Jamun, the predominant tree that Lutyens planted in the Vista, has an average lifespan of only about 100 years,” it said.

“Most trees which were originally planted as part of Lutyens’ design for the Vista must be close to 90 years old now. Hence, it will be the species with average lifespans of about 100 years that will need to be replaced with reasonably matured trees,” it said.

A detailed physical survey, which would cover aspects such as canopy girth of the trees, girth of the stem, the tree size and location, among others, is already underway to identify the number of trees that need to be replaced. It is expected to be completed in two to three weeks.

The Central Vista is an iconic precinct in the heart of New Delhi. It extends in a three-kilometre stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate and has buildings of historical significance, including the North and South Blocks and the Parliament House, which were constructed in the 1920s under the British Empire and designed by architects Lutyens and Herbert Baker.

In September last year, the Central government announced a revamp of the Vista, which includes construction of a new Parliament House and 10 new Central Secretariat buildings in the precinct. The project is expected to be completed by 2024.

The firm told The Sunday Express that in the original design, the Rajpath — the grand processional avenue between India Gate and Vijay Chowk — was flanked by the Jamun and Banyan trees in rows of five on either side.

“The trees were planted in a combination of diagonal and square grids… The strict geometry of the planting and the austere palette were crucial to establishing the formal order and spartan character of the Avenue,” it said.

Over the years, however, more than 35 species of trees have come up in the avenue, among them rows of bottlebrushes, for a picturesque element, and two more rows of Jamun were added to the original 10 rows. The firm said these plantations have been done without any reference to the original palette of trees or formal order of the landscape, resulting in a disorderly look.

“On either flanks of Rajpath — between Rajpath and the canal — we are aiming to go back to the Lutyens design. Between the canals and the secretariat blocks, a more diverse palette is being considered, which will also include some flowering trees, a celebration of biodiversity in this public space, while restoring the formal order and grandeur with the original grid,” the firm said.

In this area, between the canals and Secretariat buildings, the trees will mostly be of indigenous variety and first priority would be given to the 35 species that already exist in the Vista. The plants and trees that are “out of place” in the precinct would also be transplanted here, the firm said in the response.

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