Culture is the key to our cities and it makes cities more livable, responsive and adaptable. History of urbanization demonstrates that culture is also a key to several urban trans-formative processes, enabling the formation of key civic architectural precincts, monuments, heritage, traditions and largely vibrant public realm. The public realm of the cities breaths through the social and cultural constituents formed by its historic urban fabric. The place-ness condition is uncontestably a repository of distinctive culture. The GLOBAL REPORT on CULTURE for SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT by UNESCO brings about important argument on culture as sustainable model for urban development: What is the role of culture in urban development? How has culture influenced urban development across the world? How can culture make a difference for our urban future? 

Photo Credits : Manoj Parmar Architects (Hyderabad & Jabalpur)

Cities worldwide responds to globalization process of homogenizing differently and often they manifest themselves in reflected images of large cities. Jenifer Robinson in her literary work on “ORDINARY CITIES” brings about the Southern Urbanism discourse as non-hierarchical and beyond developmental-ism model. It is perhaps due to the intertwined or enmeshed condition of history, culture with globalization process in emergence.  The cultural discourse is re-emerging as symbiotic relationship between place, culture and economy (Singh, 2018). The cultural expressions give people the opportunity to identify themselves collectively, to read the traces of history, to understand the importance of traditions for their daily life, or to manifested realities. These are fundamental social and human needs that must be addressed in the context of urban development processes. How do we translate these realities into effective policies in sustainable urban planning?

The history of urbanization in Indian context is the key response to the social, spiritual, religious and economic needs in cities. The contemporary modes of planning paradigm often neglect or fail to represent the intrinsic and networked condition of Indian historic cities. There is a urgent need to identify the forces that underpin such historic networked conditions that are often being neglected in planning process and threaten this valuable relationship with diverse historic circumstances in contemporary urban development process. The emergence of cultural argument encompass the cultural territorial aspects of public realm, activity pattern along with history, heritage and enabling the cultural sustainability system within  the planning mechanism.

Perhaps its a time for bringing the theoretical inputs on place and people in forefront, sourcing knowledge by cutting across disciplines of Urban Planning, Urban Design and Urban sociology and moving towards the balance and inclusive economic development for the benefit of urban communities. There is a large benefit in safeguarding cultural heritage, the diversity of cultural expressions, strengthening of the sense of place (genius loci), and  the integrity of the urban fabric and the identity of communities.

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