UNStudio designs Bangalore’s Karle Town Centre Masterplan – A new innovation tech campus for India

According to economists, we are currently living in the ‘Indian Century’, and Bangalore – with its moniker as the Silicon Valley of India, due to the large number of information technology companies based in the city – finds itself at the epicenter of this rapid growth.

Within this thriving Tech Hub, UNStudio has designed the new Karle Town Centre (KTC), while UNSense – the arch tech company founded by UNStudio – is collaborating with Karle Infra to curate the use of sensorial technologies throughout the masterplan. KTC is a development that aims to define Bangalore locally and inspire the whole of India to ‘lead by example’ when designing future urban destinations.

Karle Town Centre, which is currently under construction, enjoys a direct connection to the city’s ring road arterial and expanding metro lines. It is positioned prominently next to the established Manyata Tech Park with scenic views over Nagavara Lake and is designed to act as a natural magnet for people and activities in the urban panorama.

Urban Branding Manual – Counteracting urban stagnation
Urban stagnation is a global problem that extends beyond the confines of India and is evidenced by a continuous decline in central business districts over the last 20 years. The reoccurring question is, how do we attract talent, families and investment back to the heart of these cities? UNStudio in collaboration with Karle Town Centre have created a solution to these challenging issues in the form of an Urban Branding Manual.

The Urban Branding Manual, developed by UNStudio for Karle Town Centre, analyses the detailed components of the design with a quantitative selective process. The Branding Manual explains the design intentions and requirements and is conceived as a tool which can help facilitate the design intentions of the client, engineers, architects, and urban planners so that they collectively understand the principles and motivations behind the previous choices and requirements. This manual serves as a safeguard for the integrity of the design and assures that the urban vision is executed properly over the extended course of its life.

Ben van Berkel said,

“Traditional masterplans focus on general layout and urban planning. Our Urban Branding Manual on the other hand, concentrates on experience and how to translate this experience into reality. With a network of specialists – sometimes more than a few hundred people – you need a clear vision and strategy to stay on course over the long duration of the project. The Urban Branding Manual helps the client to realise this ambitious undertaking.”

The Urban Branding Manual for Karle Town Centre is built around three defining pillars:

  • Garden, as the beauty of Bangalore’s lush natural environment deserves to be shared and enjoyed by all, hence it’s colloquial name, ’The Garden City’;
  • Health, because promoting health means a brighter and inspired Indian future;
  • Culture, because of its essential benefit to the core social and economic prosperity of the region.

The Masterplan – Community Oriented Urban Design
Typical large-scale masterplans are hindered by slow growth and stagnation due to their lengthy construction and development phasing, sometimes requiring decades for the project to be envisioned. UNStudio aims to avoid this by turning each building and plot into its own thriving urban microcosm. Whilst KTC is driven functionally by business and commerce, the programme mix provides an inviting and inspiring environment for working, living and entertainment and ensures activity on the site throughout the day and evening for residents, employees and visitors alike.

India is one of the most diverse yet distinct cultural regions in the world and as such, the KTC Masterplan understands the importance of capturing the country’s broader personal identity. The inclusion of a grand central theatre, event square plazas, elevated retail stages and amphitheater style staircases creates a multitude of small and large meeting points with cultural significance.

The design of the KTC masterplan focuses on the cultural perception of health, security, connectivity and scale, while respecting deeply rooted Indian traditions and beliefs. While security is highly prioritised, the design of the urban plan reflects an open and inviting campus; a place where people can garner a new impression of India.

The masterplan is highly permeable for both pedestrians and vehicles, seamlessly blending the two. A system of streets transition smoothly into designated drop-off points, while underground roads reduce congestion, thus ensuring minimal transport time and facilitating noise reduction.

By connecting multiple destinations together in a green and shaded environment with limited vehicular traffic, the masterplan encourages pedestrian movement while offering respite from an otherwise bustling urban context.

The Architecture

Karle Town Centre emerges from Bangalore’s dense green canopy as a series of branded contemporary buildings that will define the city’s skyline. The dynamic white volumes painted in UNStudio and Monopol Color’s unique and patented ‘Coolest White’ ultra-durable paint provide a contemporary identity to Karle Town Centre masterplan.

In KTC the landscape and architectural language complement each other and together shape the elements of the urban environment at all scales, from the design of the planter edges, to the architectural features found in the landscape, which merge and blend with the green pockets and roof scapes of the building facades. The interwoven forms, along with the sensitive integration of nature within the architecture, will let visitors know that KTC is Bangalore’s ‘Garden City of the 21st Century’.

Bangalore’s Garden City of the 21st Century
As a result of rapid urbanisation, Bangaloroe’s green parks and lakes, which previously functioned as the lungs of the city, have become heavily reduced. Such outcomes require pro-active measures to combat issues such as the urban heat island effect and fresh water shortages.

Therefore the design of the masterplan aims to enhance the quality of urban life for Karle Town Centre’s occupants, while preserving and enhancing the green character of Bangalore.

UNStudio, in collaboration with BALJON Landscape Architects from Amsterdam, envision a sustainable and resilient landscape plan that is linked to the concept of the garden as a place of leisure and relaxation. The plan takes the historic reputation of Bangalore as a ‘Garden City’ into the 21st century. Karle Town Centre presents an opportunity to shape a place that is known locally, yet is a symbol of progress globally.

Lodewijk Baljon said,

“As gardens are places of reconciliation between man and nature, the Garden City of the 21st Century will demonstrate a new way of bringing man in contact with nature. In bringing forward the qualities of nature in the city, KTC will be an innovative cultural phenomenon.”

Special attention to the public realm is given in the design by promoting the lake front promenade, providing adequate streetscape and avenue vegetation, the implementation of semi-public vegetative sky gardens throughout the architecture, and promoting an integrated design of all urban elements (seating, lighting, biking route paving, bollards, etc.).

A resilient and healthy environment
Sustainable strategies and User Dataset Collection Technology are the bedrock of a resilient and healthy environment. UNStudio’s design maximises passive design techniques, capitalising on natural daylight and prevailing wind direction.

The vegetative integration strategy of KTC controls heat gain through thermal buffering, reduces unwanted wind and filters Bangalore’s air from fine particulates that have been lifted from the soil. Large underground water retention zones are used for the irrigation of onsite vegetation and the storage and treatment of grey water use.

UNSense, the arch tech company founded by UNStudio, is collaborating with Karle Infra to curate the use of sensorial technologies throughout the masterplan in an effort to make the built environment more responsive and healthy, by tailoring the environmental controls to the users physical, mental and social wellbeing through user dataset collection.

Ben van Berkel said,

“We have so much data at our finger tips that can be used to analyse behaviour and inform design on an urban scale. We should use this to devise urban solutions that allow us to live in healthy environments that enable social interaction and capitalise on our free time more valuably.”