With a century-old history of being one of the most important commercial streets in the city,Laxmi Road has its own iconic aura. Fascinated,a group of students decided to uncover the reasons that make this area so consistent in attracting commercial activity. Although it started off as a project for their Bachelors course in Architecture,six students from VITs Padmabhushan Vasantdada Patil College carried on the documentation and studies about Laxmi Road,which has now resulted in an exhibition titled Laxmi Road Punes Life Line on the Edge.
Held inside Vishrambaug Wada,an important landmark on the road itself,the exhibition will be on till Wednesday. The team of students include Ashik Jain,Swarda Vaidya,Sanchi Solanki,Tejal Nahar,Anurag Mulay and Gaurav Shah,who were mentored by Prasanna Desai,Hrishikesh Ashtekar and Minal Sagare as project guides. The group has documented their research in the form of charts containing photographs,statistics,diagrams and text to unravel the charm of the place and also,what plagues it now.
They divided the entire stretch of Laxmi Road which expands from Alka Talkies Chowk to Belbaug Chowk into eight parts and studied it thoroughly. They concluded the study of each of the eight parts by compiling issues pertaining to each area and note down possible solutions all of which they have put on display. Giving a peek at the groups background work,Jain talks about a chart that explains the concept of Peths in the city. Peth is a native word for settlement. We have also put up a cultural map of Laxmi Road and another one to highlight the accessibility to the road from various parts of the city, says Jain.
He further explains how the city was divided into old and new areas in 1972 called C1 and C2,and how C1 was further segregated into congested and non-congested areas called R1 and R2. Laxmi Road,an eight-kilometre stretch falls into the congested part of the old city.
Comparing the concept of a mall to a bazaar,the students point out that while a mall offers better security and facilities such as toilets and air-conditioning,and caters to a specific section of society,the bazaar offers a colourful buzz that includes people from all sections of societies. The mall is like a burger; it has a select number of shops in a set atmosphere. The bazaar,on the other hand,is like an Indian thali,which can have various permutations and combinations of shops and hawkers, says Vaidya.
Solanki says that while the stretch from Limbaraj to Belbaugh Chowk faces the issue of poorly arranged hoardings and signboards,which hide the architectural designs of the old buildings,Vijay Talkies Chowk which mostly consists of residential societies lacks recreational space. Another issue that they point out through their project is the unmanageable traffic flow on Laxmi Road.
We suggest that the road be made into a two-lane stretch,one fast lane for private vehicles and the other one for public transport. There must be more footpaths along Laxmi Road,with benches and trees for shade to enhance the shopping experience, says Solanki.