City architects lament Metro stations' poor aesthetics

They volunteer to form consortium, peer-review Phase 2 stations

City architects lament Metro stations' poor aesthetics
Lost in the euphoric Namma Metro Phase 1 opening is a grim visual reminder: The station exteriors are aesthetically challenged. Now, there is a twist in that perennial lament with architects finding fault even in the design's functionality.

The frustration has spilled over to the social media, where architects have now volunteered to inject some aesthetics in the design of at least the Phase 2 stations. One of them noted that even rainwater pipes were forgotten and later crudely added as an afterthought.

The consensus was this: The trains are world class but the stations, particulary the exteriors, are very poorly done and badly finished. The Phase 1 stations, they charged, were designed by civil engineers who feel that architecture was an indulgence and not really necessary.

The functionality issues have triggered serious debates on Facebook. The architects analysed that all the first phase stations were structurally overdesigned with a lot of “useless spaces”. Specifics linked to rainwater disposal, internal electrification, lighting and user experience deserved better attention to detail.

The architects’ posts found instant support from citizens and Metro users, who dubbed the stations as monstrosities, dismal and messy. They drew comparisons with Kochi Metro and found the stations there way better in aesthetics. Their verdict on Namma Metro was clear: This is what you get when civil engineers turn architects.

Three architecture firms, including RSP Architects, Planners & Engineers (India) Pvt Ltd; Venkataraman Associates; and Zachariah Consultants had presented their station designs years before construction began. The designs were accepted and even publicised. However, for reasons left unexplained, the plans were dropped entirely.

Eager to ensure that the mistakes of the first phase are not repeated in Phase 2, the architects evinced interest to form a consortium and peer review future designs. “We have architects here who have designed great looking five-star hotels. What you need is an engineering mindset with an eye for user experience,” said an urban architect, preferring anonymity.

The designs have to be inspiring. The rationale was clear. As he put it, “These structures will be there for years, becoming part of Bengaluru's landscape. It is not too late even now. The first phase stations should be spruced up and the second phase designed far better.”

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