One of the cruelest things society does is fails its people and then alienate them for landing at the bottom of the social strata as if it wasn't the rigged system that caused the downfall. Urban-design strategies like hostile or anti-homeless architecture uses elements of the built environment to purposefully guide or restrict behaviour. It often targets people who use or rely on public spaces more than others, such as youth, poor people, and homeless people, by restricting their dependability on them like curved benches where one can't lie down or boulders and spikes under bridges and overpasses where one can't take shelter.
A community landscape project in Mumbai went in the opposite direction and created One Green Mile — an undulating 200-metre-long linear park that extends beneath the Senapati Bapat Marg flyover. A collaboration of the Dutch studio MVRDV and local practice StudioPOD, this park is a streetscape development in the heart of Mumbai along one of the most prominent Business corridors of the city.
The park encompasses a play area, outdoor gym, seating, amphitheatre and a vachanalaya (reading room) for the use of the people. These zones are unified by their graphic blue furnishings, which include slides, climbing frames, chairs and tables creating a cohesive visual identity. Extensive greenery links the different areas, found across screens, planters and an archway to encourage biodiversity, cool the site and dampen the noise from the flyover. As part of the One Green Mile project, MVRDV and StudioPOD have also enhanced the site's accessibility by introducing paving, cycle paths and zebra crossings, as well as ample lighting to ensure safety at night.
One Green Mile is a refreshing display of good urban design that unfortunately is lacking in most metropolitan cities. American author Edward Abbey said, "growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" which doesn't sound too far from what we have been doing with our cities. Perhaps, a growth that wasn't just measured in GDPs and productivity, but also flowed multidimensionally through the quality of lives of the people improving the community could slow down the fast life people in urban areas often fret about.