A new type of bus terminal incorporates commercial functions into a civic transport hub
Transport facilities are complex functional machines with the ability to build and support the cities around them. They are traditionally seen as gateways and designed as transiting facilities, for passenger movement and often dissociate from their surrounding urban frameworks due to its extensive infrastructure requirements.
In contrast, the Bus Terminal Facility at Surat is designed with a vision to ‘integrate’ and provide the city with a destination or ‘pause point’. This mixed-use development was conceived as a civic amenity woven out of plazas, gardens, terraces, courtyards and public facilities around which the various programmatic requirements are organised.
The 5-acre site is located next to the River Tapi across from the old city. Along its eastern edge runs a 9m high bund that protects it from floods. The strategic location of this bus terminal provides opportunities for the architecture to connect the property to its neighbourhood and the city to its river.
The design team therefore conceived the entire project as a raised ground plane that extends out to the bund and the river. The new ground plane is a vibrant city park accessible by the city dwellers and the transiting passengers. Inspired by the famous Step Wells of Gujarat, the 'inverted Step Well' metaphorically would once again draw the community closer to water.
The passenger movement is completely segregated from the bus movement for safety and an improved experience. The bus movement is also isolated to one side of the site, providing a stronger connectivity to the city.
The concept of looking at transport facilities as a destination and congregation space is exciting and opens up prospects for integration of even more synergistic activities. This project will be completed over the next 18 months and will set standards for future urban development projects in the country and around the world.