Walled City Lahore should be redeveloped
Walled City of Lahore
Walled city is the oldest settlement of Lahore known as Androon Sherhar or Inner City. Mughal Emperors fortified the city with a massive wall, including the 13 gates. Walled City of Lahore prospered during the Mughal and Sikh empires. Many heritage buildings of Mughal and Sikh periods can be found there. These buildings have unique architectural style and features like arches, domes, wooden doors, jharokas, geometric floor & ceiling patrons, etc.
British period saw the decline of the Walled City of Lahore. British government destroyed the gates and massive wall due to the security reasons, but Roshanai gate were spared. Later all gates were rebuilt but now few exist. Rather than redeveloping the Walled city of Lahore, British government developed the other areas for residence and administration purposes. This trend continued even after the creation of Pakistan. Now walled city looks like a large slum area.
Problems face by the residents of the Walled City of Lahore
High density area
Walled city of Lahore has total area of 2.56 km square, whereas it’s population is 200,000. Population density of the Walled City of Lahore is 40,000 people per square kilometer. Many houses in Walled City of Lahore have no attached bathrooms, proper kitchens, living rooms or bedrooms. People are forced to live in these unhygienic houses without ample natural light or ventilation.
Narrow roads & streets
Walled city has narrow roads, as compare to the modern areas of Lahore. Primary roads are narrow, whereas secondary and tertiary roads leading to the houses are very narrow. Many streets are not more that 6 feet wide. Use of personal cars and public transportation facility is limited in the Walled City of Lahore due to narrow roads.
Many houses and buildings in the Walled city of Lahore have passed their use-able life and need to be demolished or replaced by new buildings. Many hazards have been recorded during the rainy seasons, when old buildings collapsed. Similarly, many buildings have been damaged by the earthquakes.
No proper sewerage and waste management
The government of Punjab is working hard to improve the sewerage and waste disposal system in the Walled city of Lahore. But still many improvements needed. Waste disposal would be improved only after the modern infrastructures is built in the Walled City of Lahore as large vehicles cannot move on narrow roads.
No modern parks, schools and hospitals
There are no modern schools, hospitals or parks in the Walled City of Lahore. Many old structures have been rehabilitated as schools or hospitals. But these buildings have no ample day light or natural ventilation. Similarly, due to high population density, there are no proper parks or recreational areas for the local residents.
Lahore is fast commercializing and same is the case with the Walled city of Lahore. Large commercial activities on this small area is disturbing the local residents. Other major problem is the new ugly structures that have no similarity to the glorious architecture of Walled City Lahore.
No proper parking facilities
Walled city of Lahore has many tourist sites, commercial areas and restaurants like food street. Everyday large number of people visit the Walled City of Lahore and park their cars on the streets, as there are no parking spaces. This creates traffic jams.
Redevelopment of the Walled City of Lahore
We should redevelop the Walled City of Lahore to provide the better living for the local residents. Walled City of Lahore can be redeveloped by taking the following initiatives:
1- In first phase we need the complete documentation of the walled city of Lahore. Every notable building and house should be documented, including the unique architectural features like arches, domes, jharokas, wooden doors, mirror ceilings, geometric floor patrons, etc.
2- The second step is to preserve the heritage buildings
3- In third phase we should rebuild the destroyed gates
4- In fourth phase we should demolish all buildings that are not of heritage importance
5- Fifth phase is to re-plan & rebuild the Walled City of Lahore. New development should have modern roads, hospitals, parks, schools, shopping areas, hotels, restaurants, houses, public transportation, parking spaces and sewerage & waste management. The new buildings or houses should adopt the unique and traditional architectural features of the walled city of Lahore.
Good example of redeveloping the Historic Areas
Recently, Dewan Architects and Engineers have won an international competition to redevelop a culturally and historically sensitive site in Al Kadhimiya, Baghdad, Iraq. Recognizing the importance of the historical local market and traditional houses at the Al Kadhimiya site and the need for the conservation of religious tourism in Iraq, Dewan Architects has formulated a thorough mix of contemporary and traditional architectural structures. The plan includes the preservation of all historic buildings. The plan also includes wide roads, parks, shopping areas, schools, hospitals and offices. The area is re-planned but as the area is a historic site, new buildings will have the traditional architectural features.
Although the government of Punjab is doing it’s best to help the local residents of the Walled City of Lahore by renovating the homes, preserving the heritage buildings, solving sewerage problems and paving the roads & streets. But these efforts are on small scale and problems are still there. Walled city of Lahore needs a solution which brings it to the standards of modern developments, where people can enjoy the modern facilities. For that we need to redevelop the walled city of Lahore. The new developments should have the mixture of modern and traditional architecture.