Whitefield Urban Space Event

How well do you know your City? Here’s your chance to discover what used to be on the outskirts of the City – with the Whitefield Urban Space Event!

Event: Whitefield Urban Space Event
Date: April 26, 2008
Time: 3.15 p.m.
Starting point: Memorial Church, Whitefield

The event is free and open to all. More details at the Bhavan (080 2520 5305/6/7/8) or on the BCP website: http://bcp.wikidot.com/start.

The Bangalore City Project is an initiative of the Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore.

The Whitefield Urban Space Event will include visits to the Memorial Church, Our Lady of Lourdes Church and Kaolin Hill, and the Ecumenical Christian Centre. Presentations on the history of Whitefield, readings from letters on Whitefield and bird watching are also on the cards.

The Whitefield Urban Space event is designed not only to raise awareness about a unique historical settlement but also to emphasise the need for integrated, sensitive planning and development.

It is proposed to demolish the 120-year-old Memorial Church to widen the road for better access to the new international airport – an unnecessary move given that the existing main road is already 4-lane with a median.

Whitefield, the ‘Anglo-Indian and Eurasian Settlement’ was set up by the Eurasian and Anglo-Indian Association of Mysore and Coorg in 1882 on 3900 acres of land granted by Mysore State. The aim of the settlement was to make the Eurasian community, "especially its poorer members self-sufficient and thus raise their social status". (excerpts from Rev. Peck’s report)

The settlement itself was planned as a perfect circle with a central open area acting as a village green with agricultural lands around. The houses were very similar to the colonial bungalows of the Cantonment though on a smaller scale. The site is unique in that it is one of a very few planned ‘Anglo-Indian’ settlements in the whole of India.

As the settlement developed it became a popular resort for pensioners and invalids especially for shooting parties due to its salubrious climate and open countryside for miles around. One famous visitor was Winston Churchill – the inn he stayed in stands even to date.

However this peaceful rural haven has not only been swallowed up by the suburban sprawl of Bangalore but also faces immediate threats due to ad-hoc, haphazard and unplanned development. The setting of tree-lined avenues and bungalows within large gardens is being replaced by apartment blocks and commercial complexes. The need for some action is all the more urgent as it is proposed to demolish the 120-year-old Memorial Church to widen the road for better access to the new international airport – an unnecessary move given that the existing main road is already 4-lane with a median. It is also likely that the large central open area (the only park in Whitefield) may be given up for commercial and residential development, which will alter the setting and layout beyond repair. Even a single structure within the circular open area will mar the ambience.

The Whitefield Urban Space Event is being organised for the Bangalore City Project by Udbhava, a forum for urban design, built heritage, architecture and visual arts.

The Bangalore City Project comprises a group of concerned citizens from different fields, including art, culture, urban planning and architecture, as well as various organisations such as the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan and Udbhava. It aims to create awareness about art and culture in the City of Bangalore, by initiating discussions and programmes on a neutral platform – to publicise the importance of cultural infrastructure, as well as the history and importance of various places in the city that remain silent and veiled. One of the objectives is to help create a unique identity for the City, a concept that will bear special significance for the future, as Bangalore grows in manifold directions and on manifold levels

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