The historic lake of Gopi Talao dates back to 17th Century and was a very important urban space for the trading city of Surat. The lake lost its importance due to neglect in the 19th and 20th century and became a health and social menace in the coming times. Gopi Talao is located in the walled city of Surat, The walled city area of Surat city is one of the dense most urban areas with an average density of five hundred to eight hundred persons per hectare. In the middle of the city, between the inner ring road and the outer ring road, a large open land named ‘Gopi Talao’ is located; a place once famous for being a Talao (pond) became difficult to be accessed by people and became a place for antisocial activities.
Second Award | DAF 2016 Awards
Category: Urban Design (Built)
Participant Name: Vishal Shah
Team Members: Niti Shah, Snehal Shah, Saloni Shah
The project ‘Rejuvenation of Gopi Talao’ as lake is a major leap in bringing back the glory of the historically and environmentally important public place. The project site is located in the heart of the old city (previous walled city) of Surat admeasuring 10.0 hectare (1, 00,000 Sq.Mt.), the original water body which was lost in the process of city growth and urbanization is rejuvenated as a lake and public park. The key components of the project are Public Park, Water body and preservation of historic step well present in the site. The project is divided into seven zones excluding the water body; each zone depicts the peculiarity of seven important features of the city of Surat viz… Historicity, Environmental Awareness, Diamond trade, Love for Food, Textile trade, Communal Harmony and the aspiration of being a futuristic city. The large urban open space with the water body is envisaged as a must visit tourist destination as well as an important part of recreational life of the people of Surat.
The project is going to benefit the old city area immediately and also the greater city of Surat with a population of 5 million people. The environmental impact of this project are far reaching, in the form of bringing down the temperature and improving the microclimate of the place, acting as a flood cushion as well as recharging the ground water table. The project of rejuvenation of Gopi Talao as lake and creating an inclusive public place for the people of old city of Surat is helping in improving the living conditions of the people in the immediate surroundings as well as making the old area more and more desirable for the people to reside, this project has given back the people of Surat its historic urban ‘place’. This project has discouraged outward migration in the newer areas of Surat thus retaining the essence of the old city of Surat. By creation of this state of the art public place the neighbourhood and the old city at large is provided with an essential recreational space which will be enjoyed by the predominantly Muslim population residing in the immediate vicinity.
The project is a torch bearer in Indian context and is seen as a catalyst for renewal of the medieval towns as well as generating a positive spirit for the revival of old cities in India as well as re-creating the forgotten Public spaces. The project is created on the principles of the phrase ‘ What is the City, But the people’, and this principle drives the project and its intentions and after a long labour of almost 14 years the place is presented back to the people of the city