THE URBAN PARK. To induce the freedom between neutral spatial possibilities - where the PAST appears and disappears as fragments in a dream; the beauty of the ruin; this landscape / architectural apparatus dissolves, dematerializes and proposes new foci. To enhance the landscape (NATURE) within which the interventions, negotiations and interactions of MAN reveal the essential yearnings for activity, gathering, solitude and nature.
The Central Jail had an existing configuration inspired by the panoptican prison design - a concept of punishment as a means of social reform through discipline and isolation.
POSITIONS The Freedom Park site is: A. Peripheral to the old city & new cantonment. B. Lies on the main North South Axis from the Old Fort to the Palace.
The urban landscape along the old axial street is one wherein the old fragment/ruin is a marker in the new built landscape. The markers enable a reconstruction by memory of the underlying order of the city. Clearly the strategy must be for revitalization of the area through instructive recreation …. The broad city strategy is to strengthen points along the axis - which can become a point of reference / cognition for historic Bangalore and represents shift from power invested in monarchy to democracy. ADAPTIVE RE-USE The existing buildings - the barracks, the quarantine dormitory, the gallows etc. are seen as resources for adaptive re-use. The primary elements of each of these are seen as the walls with fenestrations, the plinth, the roof truss and the roof.
TRANSFORMATION. The process of transformation of the hospital walls comprises making inserts and placing them in a new context of use (exhibition, ice cream / snack outlet, coffee bar, a theater, book browsing etc.) and spatial experience by enabling a quality of lightness of the roof (by the seemingly floating roof). A strong skyline that takes and reflects light differently due to the indents of the surface. It faces the people’s court that makes it a prominent destination and in close proximity from the Ramachandra Road access. The parallel walls that become the exhibition gallery follow a similar pattern of architectural transformation. The Tower however we wish to remove the outermost layer that has been added to it a few years ago and retain the original inner core in its original state.
STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT OF THE SITE
01 The pattern of the land slopes gently from North to South (8.8 m) implying the path of surface water.
02 By memory and configuration the axis of the watch tower recalls the older panoptican order. A sufficient and significant remnant even the solitary tower and the access walls between the periphery and the central tower of the central jail.
03 The implied lines of force of the axis generate possibilities. These inform the primary access sides to the park due to the area development around, the traffic movement pattern and inflow from different parts of the city as it exists and as envisaged.
04 The landscape is understood as strands that suggest a directional flow of movement - of water and people.
05 The built markers dot the landscape by indenting the land. Each is abstract, bold, and elemental. By spatial recall each is a zone of possibilities for people and moments - an abstract composition which by memory and recall refers to spatial archetypes such as the columned pavilion, court etc. Each derives its scale from the different volumes of people gathering.
06 The earth is marked by indents along (the lines of force) the movement through from North to South and vice versa. Each is a zone of possibility (seating, discussion, rest, the museum and tree formations are water percolation points. Trees lightly dot this earthscape and move with it. Landscape of the earth markers, warp up towards the higher contours. These are opportunities of visual mediation / screening / guiding view entry, for rest and seating for individual / group use.
07 The spatial thrust of the existing axis informs the loose linking of the information/ corridor. As the curved marker reveals its spaces, one is engaged spatially with the axis (which movement culminates in the observation tower and beyond).
08 Floated in the warping green landscape is a paved floating plate. Freed from its association with spatial building enclosure, this 'plaza' like space is dislocated to become court of eastern light and western reflection. At both ends of the East & West it is contained by high ground and dense planting. A place to enjoy the vastness, the shade, the spray of the mist fountain. The plaza is faced by the tower that can be used for viewing the park and the surrounding areas and being a souvenir outlet.
09 The berms / rip wrap slow the surface water flow for percolation. They are placed on the landscape in a pattern in keeping with the flow of water within the site between the mounds and low points so that they cause maximum water recharging of the soil and do not erode the soil.
Indian urban spatial history is often considered as fragments in an intricately woven palimpsest. The fragments cognitively connect in the mind of the user to create meaning. The Urban Park strategy to layer spatial memories (of a formal spatial history such as the “panoptican”) and the discovery of the ruin amidst the new apparatus that creates decentralized foci (and thus by position, anchoring and movement dissolves the former built apparatus) is one that is inspired by the evidence of the palimpsest.