When Edwin Lutyens designed New Delhi, he visualised a garden city with low-rise buildings and wide, tree-lined avenues.
That was in the 1910s when Delhi's population was 2.3 lakh. Today, the city is teeming with 1.7 crore people and lakhs more travel to the capital for work every day.
Is it time, then, for Delhi to grow vertically as union urban development minister Kamal Nath said recently?
Architects, town planners and urban designers are divided over the prospect.Said KT Ravindran, chairperson, Delhi Urban Arts Commission, "What we need is higher density in low-rise by redeveloping existing plotted areas."
On the contrary, architect Hafeez Contractor, who has designed many high-rises in the NCR, believes Delhi needs intense development and new building by-laws to allow skyscrapers. "However, the Lutyen's skyline should not be tampered with because it's not just the face of the city, but the face of the country as well," he said.
AK Jain, former commissioner (planning), Delhi Development Authority, feels much the same way as Contractor. "Delhi can't have the luxury of farmhouses and gated colonies any more. There is no harm in building high-rises and existing areas should be redeveloped to cater to 40% of Delhi's housing needs," he said.