First of a kind neighbourhood signage, conceived to improve legibility of the neighbourhood and in turn walkability and orientation of various destinations in the park
Client: Indiranagar II Stage League (Resident Welfare Association)
Location: Indiranagar, Bengaluru
Due to misleading road names and missing wayfinding signage, over the years, the residents of Indiranagar — a residential neighbourhood in Bengaluru — have faced significant trouble with postal/courier delivery and directing people to come to places in the neighbourhood. The confusion in road/ward names also has an impact on delivery of urban services, establishing accountability for effective garbage collection, illegal encroachments, coordination of municipal projects and so on. In addition to this, lack of wayfinding signage directing people to appropriate public transit means lesser people end up using it. As a result, people are quicker to take a taxi, auto, or private vehicle even if distances are walk-able or easily accessible using public transit.
Our project with the Resident Welfare Association in Indiranagar, the ‘Indiranagar II Stage League’, was to design multi-lingual ‘You are Here’ street signage in Indiranagar. Aside from the residents, the biggest beneficiaries are bound to be other citizens who visit the neighbourhood and don’t know their way around. It must be noted that over 50% of Bengaluru’s population is made up of migrants from other cities that are relatively unfamiliar with its geography or the native language.
As it happens, one of the most enthusiastic stakeholders has been none other than the Post Office. In the absence of proper maps they use their own map (of their postal jurisdiction). It is a crisp hand drawing on a landscape A4, that is photocopied and used by everyone. They say that they know most of the neighbourhood by having cycled routes regularly, but when they shift routes, they face quite a steep learning curve to figure out the addresses again. As it happens, residents have also spoken of how one of them once received a gun in the courier meant for another address, while another spoke of how they have to always get out of the house on the main road to get any courier because the house numbers are not logically organized.
More than the signage itself, the process of collecting data and recognizing the diverse perspectives of the many stakeholders about how they navigate the neighbourhood, what they see as the prominent landmarks for wayfinding, what are the institutions/offices/public amenities that they want represented on the map, and how they see this being useful has been the larger gain here. We realise that if we continue this process of neighbourhood mapping, while there will be parts (/data) of the map that will be constant and so similar for all neighbourhoods, simultaneously there will be aspects that are specific to that geographic, the things that make a neighbourhood unique. In this lies our learning of the Bengaluru City’s identity and identity of individual neighbourhoods within.
The contents of the map have come out of the study of the legible cities movement, readings of Kevin Lynch’s ‘Image of the city’ and several community meetings over the last few months. We owe much to the many other similar efforts being undertaken in an array of global cities – Toronto, Bristol, London, New York etc. Making cities more legible will make them more liveable and more inclusive for sure.