“The traffic in Mumbai is immensely congested and chaotic,” says the Guggenheim Museum’s David van der Leer. “Many people commute for four hours every day, and I have had my fair share of endless travel times.” The curator heads up the museum’s BMW Guggenheim Lab, a traveling pop-up event and exhibition space that has been docked in the city of 18 million people for the last six weeks.
Van der Leer and the lab’s other organizers singled out one traffic interchange as particularly gnarly and, with the Mumbai Environmental Social Network, launched a design competition to address the Kala Nagar Traffic Junction last fall. Today, they announced the winners.
A jury that included former Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa and Mumbai traffic police commissioner Vivek Phansalkar selected the top five projects from a pool of 43 entries. In the professional category, winner Radhika Mathur presented a plan featuring a pedestrian skywalk and dedicated bus lanes, Sweta Parab and Hrishikesh More designed a series of circular pedestrian promenades, and Mayuri Sisodia and Kalpit Ashar proposed weaving together multiple modes of transportation on two floating, angular islands. In the student category, Andres Perez and his group suggested a wide, tree-shaded pedestrian plaza, while a team from the D. Y. Patil College of Architecture included an elevated pedestrian walk with seating and concessions tucked under a freeway overpass. The competition also presented a people’s choice award to Vedika Tulsiyan, Jaynish Shah, and Karan Sancheti, who proposed an ambitious pedestrian ramp with bleacher seating capped by an elevated, gable-roofed garden.
The professional winners each received an award of $1,300, and $375 went to the student winners. The people’s choice winner will get $275.
The BMW Guggenheim Lab chose the Kala Nagar junction because it connects a tangle of north-south as well as east-west thoroughfares. Some 60,000 passengers per hour negotiate the intersection during rush hours, and that number grows by roughly 10 percent every year, according to Trupti Amritwar Vaitla, a Mumbai-based architect and one of the lab’s other organizers. But the interchange is also bounded by an atypical amount of open space. “It has potential to become more than a node in a series of transportation networks,” says Amritwar Vaitla. “Space on and around the junction can be used as public spaces for people transferring from one mode of transportation to the other.”
The Guggenheim team presented the winners to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, which is overseeing redevelopment of the junction and has agreed to implement some parts of the proposals. But Van der Leer stresses that the primary goal of the lab is to inspire people in the places it travels to advocate for changes in their own cities. The lab launched in New York in 2011 and had a stop in Berlin last year. The Mumbai iteration, designed by Tokyo’s Atelier Bow-Wow with local firm SDM Architects, opened in December and closes January 20.
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