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Two landmarks stand out amid bustling city of Navi Mumbai

Artist Village in Belapur and Kharghar node are masterpieces of urban design

mumbai Updated: Apr 08, 2018 00:53 IST
Padmja Sinha
Padmja Sinha
Hindustan Times
Navi Mumbai,Belapur,Kharghar
Utsav chowk at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai.(Hindustan Times)

The sloping, titled roofs, narrow lanes, the lush greenery give a quaint touch to Artist Village.

The six-hectare space at Belapur’s Sector 8 with around 600 houses stands out among the city’s plush high-rises and modern landmarks. Enter the quiet area and the old charm is visible in its nook and corner.

The twists and turns remind of an actual village. The bungalows stand testimony to the changing landscape of the area.

When Nila Damle, a Kathak dancer, came to live in the Artist Village 18 years ago, she was impressed by the ambience. “The village is self-sufficient and has been planned well. Open gardens and lush greenery in a city is a luxury. The area has been designed such that it gives ample space to residents as well as opens door for interaction with neighbours,” she said.

Artist Village at CBD in Navi Mumbai. ( Bachchan Kumar/Hindustan Times )

When the village was first visualised by well-known architect Charles Correa in 1983, it was designed for artists, giving them a creative corner in a city of concrete jungle.

The village was first visualised by well-known architect Charles Correa in 1983. ( Bachchan Kumar/Hindustan Times )

“The unique design by the architect allows free movement and each house is connected even with open space and rooftops. Over the years, the single houses have been converted into two-storey bungalows, but the ambience is intact,” said Damle.

Over the years, the village, once known to house only artists, started allowing other residents.

The houses started changing from one-storey to two. More cars came in, turning the open spaces into parking lots.

“But, it is still a beautiful fusion of nature and the concrete design,” said calligrapher Achyut Palav, who has been living here for 20 years. “Artist Village still justifies its name as many artists still live in the village.”

The well-designed village became an inspiration for another renowned architect, Balkrishna V Doshi, who recently won Pritzker Architecture prize.

When Doshi — the then consultant for Cidco — was asked to design Kharghar node, he visited the Artist Village.

The well-planned wide roads, easy connectivity and aesthetic look of Kharghar is the brainchild of Doshi.

The masterplan of the picturesque Kharghar was laid down in the 90s by Doshi whose creativity shines in all the modern landmarks of the node — Central Park, Utsav Chowk, Shilp Chowk and the golf course.

Urban planner Sandeep Thakur said, “Planning Kharghar with open spaces, footpaths and hangout zones was meticulously and gave a certain character to the area. But, the planning body has failed to retain that. The open spaces are encroaxched, footpaths are occupied by vendors and the popular landmark Utsav Chowk has been converted into an open food court.”

Ramesh Dengle, Cidco’s chief planner, said that it was not easy to plan 40 Sectors spread over 2,000 hectares.

“But, Doshi did that aptly. The planning was done keeping nature in focus — the greenery, the hills and waterfalls. The township was planned so that both it does not interfere with the natural surroundings. Though bringing everything to a perfect sync was difficult but architect Doshi made it possible,” said Dengle.

First Published: Apr 08, 2018 00:53 IST