Surat Lignite Power Project, Surat

This company town is located on a site of 33 hectares and was built to house employees of Gujarat Industries Power Corporation Ltd working at a major power station near the village of Mangrol. It was planned to accommodate 500 housing units. Necessary commercial and social infrastructure was also developed alongside as the site was located in a remote area and it catered to all sections of employees. The design would have to follow the housing standards laid down by the Bureau of Public Enterprises. However the negative effects of a hierarchy based entitlement that was inherent in these standards and would have led to socially stratified neighbourhoods were largely mitigated by grouping of different housing categories in clusters with shared common areas and open spaces. Mixed neighborhoods, it was felt, would result in better interpersonal relationships between company employees.

The success of any township plan lies in strong community activity at all levels. Interaction between members at the neighborhood level is especially important. Before the advent of motorized vehicles, the street was the center of all neighborhood activity. It brought people together – it was a safe place for casual meetings and chance encounters apart from its function as a thoroughfare. Houses overlooked the street with stoops and verandahs from which neighbors could communicate with one another.

While interaction at the neighbourhood level has been taken care of by careful planning of the housing clusters and intervening open spaces, a town center was created by combining compatible social and commercial functions into a central activity node for the whole development. This node comprising entertainment facilities (open air theatre, recreation center) shopping, commercial (bank, post office) official (township administration) transport and communication (Bus terminal, telephone exchange) centers would form the town center. The buildings in this center are planned around large plazas and external circulation spaces and are linked to the pedestrian network at the head of the green belt.

There are two distinct circulation systems in the township linking all the facilities. One is the pedestrian grid which is an internal network of pathways and the other, a ring road is independent of the pedestrian network running in a loop along the periphery of the residential area meant for motor vehicles.

A three storeyed cluster development was found most appropriate for a majority of the housing types. In multi-level developments the upper floors generally do not have success to open spaces unlike the units on the ground floor. By combining two types of units in one cluster ample terrace areas were available to all units on the upper levels.

The land use plan has evolved mainly on the basis of topography and wind directions. Soil conditions are seen to be uniform throughout the site. The residential zone is planned on high ground as it facilitates easy drainage and reduces the cost of the sewerage and storm water disposal systems. At the same time the area is farthest away from the power plant and therefore preferable from the point of view of environmental quality. A buffer zone of dense tree planting is planned all along the road side and other boundaries of the site to isolate the township physically from unpredictable future development.

Client : Gujarat Industries Power Company

Area : 525,000 sq m

Location : Mangrol, Gujarat

Role : Architectural & Engineering Design and Project Management

Back to main Project page