Case Study – Lahore Suburbia, Zoning and Industrial design under scrutiny
By Fareeha Qayoom
akistan is blessed with a beautiful natural environment and a very short list of attractive cities and suburbs, buildings, and public spaces. But even these places are in danger of being overwhelmed by rampant suburban sprawl and unsightly architecture. Rolling fields are being enveloped by a tidal wave of housing schemes, model homes, apartment complexes and industrial zones. Lahore is one prime example of this reality. Take a drive down Multan Road, Raiwind Road or Defence Road from Thokar Niaz Beg or Ferozepur Road or cross the Ravi River to Sheikhupura Road; you will see for yourself, Lahore is indeed going to the dogs!
Agricultural land was first purchased by industrialists at dirt cheap prices to set up new industrial units on the outskirts of the city, rapid urban sprawl has taken the residential and commercial expansion to new heights (or should I say new lows?) and the city is rapidly growing and taking over the remaining farmlands and these little pockets of industrial units dab, smack in the middle of residential and commercial areas. Farmers are selling up and taking up different professions; we are losing farmers and fertile lands to this rapid urbanization trend – (no wonder we are having food and cash crop-production shortages!) and Lahore is growing more polluted, ugly and dirty.
Lahore has three major issues right now, one) ad hoc expansion without the town planners’ involvement, two) lack of comprehensive town plan or what is called a ‘master plan’, and three) corruption. Okay, you want kickbacks but even then, there should be a minimum line drawn and no one should be allowed to cross that line. We are all equal in our humanity. All of us require clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, live in clean and sanitary surroundings and have enough food to survive. These are basic requirements. This rapid urbanization is depriving your fellow human beings including yourself from those basic rights. Why aren’t we doing anything about this? Instead, we are encouraging all this mad expansion by investing in these housing schemes to earn a quick buck. Industrial spaces come under a separate zone. Before I talk about what is an ideal industrial space, let’s figure out what are the international norms on town planning and zoning first.
Zoning divides a community into districts, and determines what can and cannot be built on the parcels of land within those districts. Zoning regulations typically address two issues contained within the question of ‘what’ can be built: (1) to what use the buildings may be put (i.e., what activities can take place), and (2) the height, bulk, and sometimes the design of buildings (i.e., how big they are and how they look). While every community can determine for itself what categories of uses (i.e., activities) are permitted where, there are some general categories that are broadly used and well understood as planning vernacular. See table.
INDUSTRIAL SPACE DESIGN REQUIREMENTS
Industrial spaces are the category of spaces that formally involve the services of architects and interior designers in Pakistan. These are actually ‘workspaces’ with a difference. There is the administration aspect of the space and then there’s the manufacturing or assembly line aspect. (Since I have already discussed the basic ‘ideal workspace’ requirements in issue 2 of Valuemag, I’d rather not repeat myself! I am going to only talk about the ‘industrial’ aspects of the ‘workspaces’ right now.) The human aspect involves that there’s a bit of landscaping, space to interact, relax and eat/drink between breaks and a provision for public rest rooms; then, there are parking and docking facility needs; storage and warehousing requirements, not to mention making room for safety, health and first aid measures in case of accidents. It also depends on kinds of manufacturing requirements. This is where zoning plays a role – there are categories of industrial spaces or zones: a) light industrial: b) heavy industrial and: c) industrial parks.
a) LIGHT INDUSTRIAL SPACES
Light Industrial space types are used for the assembly, disassembly, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging, and repairing or processing of materials. Light Industrial space types can include but are not limited to spaces for printing, commercial laundry, photographic film processing, vehicle repair garages, building maintenance shops, metal work, mill work, and cabinetry work. Generic examples of uses as garment factories, automobile assembly plants and jewelry and leather goods manufacturing establishments, and industrial spaces less than 20 acres in size, consisting of warehouses, equipment repair and maintenance structures, open storage areas, office and communications buildings, parking space and other service or supply structures required for the transfer of materials and workers also come under this category. Light Industrial space types must be designed to accommodate a structured working environment with a heavy reliance on machinery and technology. Well- laid out circulation spaces are crucial to the safety and well being of building occupants, and will also increase productivity.
b) HEAVY INDUSTRIAL SPACES
‘Heavy industrial spaces’ means a use characteristically involving more than 20 acres and typically employing some but not necessarily all of such equipment such as, but not limited to smokestacks, tanks, distillation or reaction columns, chemical processing equipment, scrubbing towers, pickling equipment and waste-treatment pools; which industry, although conceivably operable without polluting the environment, has the potential to pollute when equipment malfunctions or human error occurs. Examples of heavy industry are oil refineries, basic steel manufacturing plants, basic cellulosic pulp-paper mills, and chemical plants such as petrochemical complexes.
c) INDUSTRIAL PARKS
A planned industrial development on a tract of land containing an internal road network suitable for trucks and employee traffic and adequate utilities, including a sufficient water supply, sanitary and storm sewers, and electric and gas lines with built in zoning containing light and heavy industrial spaces are designated as industrial parks. Sunder Industrial Estate and Quaid-e- Azam Industrial Estate are prime examples of Industrial parks in Lahore.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENVIRONMENT
Two issues that are totally neglected when designing industrial zones in Pakistan are: one) the basic infrastructure including transportation network (road, rail, and/or air) to move goods is usually missing or miles away; waterways routing obviously belongs in a seaport city. The industrial zones should be accessible by public transport as well. Right now, most of the industrial units provide their own transport service to their workers and, two) natural environment – there may be legislation available on the subject of clean air and clean water act but we should be planning our structures for the long-term so water treatment plants and green belts including trees should form part of our city ‘master plan.’
Luckily for us, most of the exporters have to install water treatment plants in their dyeing facilities for garments and leather factories if they want to do business with US or European buyers as compliance with international labor and environmental laws is the cost of doing business with them. However, who checks the manufacturing facilities for domestic use? Who checks these effluent treatment plants are actually operational and not just for show?
BIRD’S EYE VIEW – INDUSTRIAL SPACES IN LAHORE
Zoning challenges need to be addressed immediately for Lahore but there is the aesthetic design challenge too that faces most of our industrial spaces. Our industrialists need to actively engage in the building plans with their architects and interior designers to sort them out. Most of the factories in Lahore do not meet our design challenge.
Here are three examples of ‘light industrial spaces’: Firhaj Footwear on Ferozepur Road, Forest Sweaters on Manga off Raiwind Road,and Naveena Denim on Defence Road off Raiwind Road. Unfortunately, Firhaj and Naveena Denim have come in the middle of Lahore’s suburbs now. However, Forest Sweaters is still on the fringes– it will probably take another three to five years for our population to catch up! These spaces may not be the ‘best design’ in terms of aesthetics but they do have adequate provisions for all the required machinery, technology, administration, parking, recreation, rest rooms, a further room for vertical and horizontal expansion, safe exits incase of fire, safety, health, and ventilation measures in places with a bit of green vegetation thrown in to offset any criticism. ■
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, issue 3 – July 2008