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Competition: Connaught Place, New Delhi

An open international ideas contest has been launched to rethink New Delhi’s iconic Connaught Place (Deadline: 15 August)

Open to students, professionals and institutions – the competition seeks conceptual masterplans to regenerate the historic Central Business District (CBD) which completed in 1933 as the centrepiece of Edwin Lutyens’ vision for New Delhi.

The call for concepts aims to generate ideas to revitalise the popular but deteriorating circular market place which is arranged around three concentric roads and features a mix of offices, shops and entertainment spaces.

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Source: Image by Vladislav Bezrukov

Connaught Place, New Delhi

According to the brief: ‘The sprawling circular market was the largest of its kind in India. The structures have been continuously transformed by the inhabitants/tenants/shop owners while keeping the external skin same.

‘On the flipside, the structure already has started to crumble because of losing strength and usage violations by its tenants. A series of maintenance activities have to be done every day to make sure the market is still in shape. But the insides are decaying considerably making it impossible to ensure 100 per cent safety of its occupants. How would the next century of this place be, under such an existential question?’

The 42.7 km² district of New Delhi was designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker as the new capital of the British Raj in 1911, and organised around a dramatic central mall known as the Raj Path. New Delhi remains the centre of India’s government and is home to several national museums, institutes and sporting venues.

In 2015, the government withdrew an ambitious application for the area to be granted UNESCO world heritage status over fears the status could limit future construction projects. An international contest for a new National War Museum in New Delhi’s Princess Park area was held three years ago.

Named after the seventh child of Queen Victoria – Arthur William Patrick Albert, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn – the circular market place is a busy and prestigious commercial district despite the deteriorating state of its existing buildings.

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Partly inspired by the Royal Crescent in Bath, Connaught Place features an inner circle, middle circle and outer circle with seven roads radiating from a circular central park.

The latest contest invites participants to re-imagine the area and propose new ways to revitalize the Robert Tor Russell-designed structures while respecting local heritage and their cultural significance.

Judges include Pandya Yatin Narendraray, principle architect at India’s Footprints EARTH; Tejas Kotak, executive director of the Hunnarshala Foundation for Building Technology and Innovation; and Mi Sun Lim, principle at UAE-based 5+design. The competition language is English.

The overall winner will receive a $1,500 prize while a runner-up prize of $800, two people’s choice awards of $450, and two honourable mentions worth $200 each will also be awarded.

How to apply

Fee

Advance registration until 15 May: 20$ students, 30$ professionals, 75$ institutions
Early registration until 30 June: 30$ students, 50$ professionals, 125$ institutions
Standard registration until 25 August: 40$ students, 70$ professionals, 200$ institutions

Deadline

The registration deadline is 15 August and submissions must be completed by 25 August

Contact details

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Team Uni

The organiser discusses their ambitions for the competition

Why are your holding an international ideas contest to rethink the future of Connaught Place in New Delhi?

Connaught Place is the crown piece of Lutyens Plan of New Delhi by Robert Tor Russell. Conceived as a commerce hub or CBD by the British it has been constantly growing and has become one of the most vibrant recreational and institutional space attracting local, regional and international visitors throughout the year.

This role made Connaught Place a hub of many things – social activity (circus, events, protests, etc.), political activity (rallies, parades, road shows, etc.), cultural activity (celebrations, festivals, etc.), economic activity (workplaces, business centres, etc.) and accessibility (with all the national highways passing through the area).

As the building has lasted for almost a century, it has now started to crumble and decay due to tremendous pressure on its infrastructure. Being a CBD, words like performance / innovation / growth / scalability come by default as expectations. However, being one of the oldest market places in India, the nostalgia and heritage ties are impossible to lose. Which is why we ask, how would the next century of this place be, under such an existential question?

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Source: Image by Kabi1990

Connaught Place, New Delhi

What is your vision for the how the important commercial district could be transformed?

We feel the participants will have to think from the economic point of view being a market and the cultural/heritage/social point of view being a hub of all things New Delhi. The designer will have to negotiate between the two with a model that has the ability to withstand the growth rate New Delhi would realistically achieve. At a more close level, Connaught Place is one of the most inclusive market places in the world, which should be consistent in the redesign.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

We expect a vast spectrum of architects to apply, including many who have interacted with Connaught Place personally or have read about it. This place speaks to many cultures, organizations and individuals, and we believe every designer will have amazing ideas to contribute to the endeavour.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Uni is a home to one of the fastest growing pool of design challenges where we are bringing meaningful problems that are being solved by the best designers of the world. We are planning to host an upcoming architecture mega challenge series based on Generic City concept by Rem Koolhas in major countries of the world. You can expect news on these in the coming month.

Are there any other historic market space renewal projects you have been impressed by?

None in particular that has relevance to this project – every city market is different and you need a different approach to design each one.

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Source: Image by Carlton Browne

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Great Yarmouth Market: Q&A with Hudson Architects

The London practice discusses lessons learned designing an upgrade for Great Yarmouth Market in England

How will your project deliver a landmark overhaul and upgrade of Great Yarmouth Market?

Great Yarmouth Market sits at the heart of the historic Norfolk town, and is a cherished feature of the life of the town, contributing much to its character and the local economy. We have sought to improve facilities and functionality at the market for all users: traders, local retailers and members of the local community, and our approach seeks to provide a variety of flexible spaces and market experiences that will allow this very traditional shopping model to survive into the 21st century.

Hudson Architects' proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

Hudson Architects’ proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

Hudson Architects’ proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

While we are introducing contemporary elements, we have avoided ‘landmark architecture’ – the market itself is a local landmark and our approach has sought to tap into its ready-made and rich personality. As well as a new shelter for the permanent market we have identified opportunities for temporary market stalls, and dedicated space for eating, gathering, cultural and arts space. Together we feel that expanding the market offer and the range of activities within Great Yarmouth’s town centre will enhance its appeal to residents, traders and visitors.

Hudson Architects' proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

Hudson Architects’ proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

Hudson Architects’ proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The main features of our overhaul are new contemporary stalls in the permanent market, set beneath a sculptural market roof. The stalls represent an evolution of traditional stalls, and are simple structures designed to give traders good quality and flexible space that is easy to look after. The multiple-pitched timber truss roof is informed by traditional market stalls, with a crisp contemporary appearance that will enhance Great Yarmouth’s marketplace and the activities beneath. Again this is a relatively simple structure that provides natural ventilation and shelter, and will be economical to build and maintain.

What advice would you have to contest participants on rethinking the future of Connaught Place?

To dedicate time early in the project to fully understand the cultural, economic and political context of the brief. Whether a UK town centre or heritage business district, the multiple stakeholders of urban realm redevelopment projects are often both passionate and territorial. For the best built outcomes ensure that consultation is thorough, timely and genuine.

Hudson Architects' proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

Hudson Architects’ proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk

Hudson Architects’ proposed revamp of Great Yarmouth’s historic market place in Norfolk