An Urban Intervention

The Traffic Island, Udaipur, Design Inc.

A Traffic Island, an Urban Intervention, an Art Installation, a Human Reflection, which is set within the historical city of Udaipur in India. The design of this traffic island seeks to dissolve these boundaries and create a symbol of development – a meaningful and visual anchor in the city’s urban fabric.

What is the relationship between urban infrastructure and the city? How does this change the relationship of an individual to the city? Infrastructure constitutes the geometry of the urban plan, from the micro to the macro – molecular to the massive. It can be framed as an organising structure and response to the environment in terms of the growth in urban fabric. A sensitive and responsible response to the surrounding can go a long way in changing the nature of an individual’s behaviour to his surrounding environment, leading to positive changes and subsequent growth starting from the microclimate of the city to its larger urban context.

Design Inc was founded in 2000 by Khushboo and Kunal Khandelwal as a people-oriented design practice. With over 15 years of experience, the firm prides itself on not adhering to a specific sense of style or genre but chooses to interpret each client’s requirements through a design process of intensive dialogue, conceptualisation and material exploration. Coupled with this out of the box thinking, each project is looked as a process which then translates into a unique and personalised product for the client. Having successfully handled a wide spectrum of projects, both Khushboo and Kunal, strongly believe that design inspiration can come from anywhere: an explicit aspiration, a personality trait, a work of art – which can then form the core idea of the project. The firm works across fields of hospitality, residential, commercial and educational in architectural and interior design.

The City of ‘Udaipur’ in Rajasthan, known for its lakes, tourism and traditional architecture has shown a lot of progress in the last few years. It has been selected as one of the Smart Cities in Phase I under the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD). The urban fabric of the city is poised on the brink of development and changes to adapt to the smart city concept. The Traffic island, located at Ayurvedic College Circle, is an important traffic interchange in the city’s movement. It marks a significant node within the urban fabric which would impact how people navigate through traffic, and at the same time, in its own quiet manner, has the potential to function as a meaningful, eloquent visual anchor in the developing urban landscape.

The design of the traffic island sought to embody the smart growth of the city, set the correct scale for an intimate experience that would blend with the ideology, values and ethos of an individual in the city of Udaipur. It sought to retain these core beliefs albeit translated into a modern manner and tell the story of the growth of an individual leading to the development of his city. We wanted to create a landmark within the urban fabric which would transgress from the traditional elements of the city to its modern development and become a strong visual identification and subsequently an iconic landmark in the cities’ movement pattern.

Taking cues from its people, its rich heritage, its culture, traditional arts – the idea took root of merging art and sculpture through an urban art installation as the Traffic Island – creating a visually striking and symbolic intervention in the urban fabric of Udaipur, a modern architectural manifestation against the backdrop of the cities traditional architecture.

To translate this into a larger context, the design team embarked upon a collaborative exercise with their graphic team to create an interactive urban form, through a repository of dynamic, forward-looking vocabulary and imagery – which was then translated into an expressive sculptural installation that embodied the thoughts and ideas.

The installation’s arched frames denote the various stages of life, and the words that form them talk about proliferation of the mind. The gaps in these arches represent influences, which form the stimuli for introspection and decision-making in a personal journey of a human being through various stages of growth. These arches hence become symbolic of the parallel growth of an individual’s values and his growth with the development of the city – A city’s growth is fostered purely by its inhabitants.

The Traffic island was a linear elliptical form, so the installation was planned along the length of the island. To allow for visibility at the level of pedestrian and vehicular movement, the installation was made to take the form of arches at various levels and in varied angular forms. A water body situated at one end of the line of arches symbolises the lakes of the city. The arches were designed as an amalgamation of welcoming and inspirational words, in different languages showing the multiculturalism of the city, with the colour representing a potent point wherein the words made a difference to life of the viewer with some solid arches balancing the phases of the human growth.

The materials used were powder-coated MS frames, which were mounted on a concrete base to ensure stability in the event of vehicular mishaps or situations involving stray animals which are a regular occurrence in tier-2 and tier-3 cities of India. Granite sourced locally was flamed and used as panels along the edges while locally grown grass used to form the basic mound, on which the installation was mounted.

fact file:  
Architectural Firm : Design Inc.
Project Name : The Traffic Island
Location : Udaipur, Rajasthan
Design Team :

Khushboo Khandelwal, Kunal Khandelwal,Yashika Tijoriwal

Contractor : Vishvakarma Enterprises, Mumbai Graphics and
Creatives : Super Studio Mumbai
Photographer : ©Photographix I Sebastian Zachariah

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