DUAC - Delhi Urban Art Commission
History

The Delhi Urban Art Commission was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1973 to "advise the Government of India in the matter of preserving, developing and maintaining the aesthetic quality of urban and environmental design within Delhi and to provide advice and guidance to any local body in respect of any project of building operations or engineering operations or any development proposal which affects or is like to affect the skyline or the aesthetic quality of the surroundings or any public amenity provided therein"

The area of urban Delhi has expanded and it has become more densely built in the years since the DUAC was constituted. This gives even greater relevance to the injunctions in the original mandate. Ecology and heritage are more pressing concerns now, the difficulties of seeing the city as a whole in a situation where there are many decision- making bodies is more evident than before, and there is urgent need to have a vision for the future of the city's constituent elements.

If in the 1970s the predominant concern was about uncontrolled high-rise development, in the 1980s issues linked with Asian Games in the 1990s the building of Dwarka and the freezing of the New Delhi Bungalow area, this decade's main concerns are about four issues - the threats to the remaining oases of open spaces, riverine and forest, the need to improve the quality of life in historic precincts, the need to ensure that dilapidated areas are 'redeveloped' elegantly, and to find ways in which traffic networks can work efficiently but with a humane quality. The DUAC took significant initiative to highlight city-level issues in an exhibition ‘Imagining Delhi’.

The major activities of the Commission ranged over many issues. The new Metro lines and the Commonwealth Games projects, and extensions to existing institutions, were examined in the context of the underlying ecology and of historic neighbourhoods. Agencies with overlapping jurisdiction were invited to discussions for norms about street furniture, and (with the cooperation of the NCT Government) to identify ways to 'improve' Shahjahanabad. Pilot projects initiated by DUAC, to serve as templates, include the proposals on Khirkee Village and on Sunheri Bagh, and the work on a Zonal Development Plan for the NDMC. Much time and thought has been given to the pressing issues of modifying and adding to transport-corridors. The Commission has been organizing workshops from time to time on important issues concerning the Capital City. To draw attention o f all concerned to hazards involved in the issue of additions to existing inhabited multistoried housing projects the Commission organized a workshop in March 09. With a view to promote work of Art as an integral part of public projects particularly at the Commonwealth Games Venues the Commission organized another workshop on 11.4.09.

The Commission took the opportunity of the Commonwealth Games to showcase Delhi to the visitors to the City as well as its citizens through an exhibition called 'Delhinama'. The biography of this fascinating city unfolded through over a year of intense research work by a group of scholars, professionals and crafts people. Layer by layer the team unearthed amazing continuities hidden in the folds of time, of this throbbing contemporary megapolis. In this effort the Commission also received the active assistance of a number of national and international institutions as well as support of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The Commission which was reconstituted in June 2011 took significant steps to streamline the existing procedures and expedite the time taken for consideration of proposals. One such primary assignment undertaken by the Commission was drawing a list of criteria which play a significant role relating to aesthetics of public buildings. Based on these criteria the proforma for reference of proposals to the Commission was modified. Once an undertaking is given through the proforma by the project proponent/architect, minimal time is taken by the Commission for consideration of the proposal. The streamlining of the procedure helped in significant reduction in the consideration time in respect of proposals referred to the Commission.

Another important area where the Commission has issued broad guidelines to acknowledge the contribution of architect, engineers etc. to public buildings is insisting on provision of a plaque in all existing and proposed public buildings indicating the name of the architect, engineer, owner, etc. The Commission has also been emphasizing on the need for conducting of architectural competitions for all important public buildings based on the fees and stages of payment prescribed by the Council of Architecture instead of selecting the architect through the bidding process. The Commission strongly feels that this would help in bringing forward the best talent for the project instead of giving predominance to financial criteria. The Commission with the approval of the Government has taken up important City level projects indicated below :-

  1. Site Specific designs for wards
  2. Rehabilitation proposals for Unauthorized colony/slums
  3. One proposal in respect of vision for Delhi
  4. High Rise Development Proposals Along Metro Corridors
  5. Rejuvenation of Delhi’s Gardens
  6. Preparation of design and prototype for high-tech public toilets
  7. Unified Building bye-laws for Delhi
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