Photo credits: Silvassa Smart City 




Period of time




Silvassa, India

Re-Purposing Entire Streets

March 2020 - now

Smart Cities Mission, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), ITDP (as the guidance partner) and the Government of India

To inspire cities to create walking-friendly streets through quick measures in response to COVID-19. The Challenge aims to create flagship walking initiatives in cities, which focus on placemaking and liveability.

One of the great lessons learned from the Covid pandemic is that we must change the way we design our cities to be more sustainable, efficient, and resilient.

Moreover, urban areas in developing countries face high volumes of traffic, a lack of infrastructure for walking and cycling, and fast-growing populations. Mobility issues play a key role in agendas (ex. SDGs) that seek to address climate change, and to promote sustainable development, human health and well-being.

In the case of Silvassa, India, they saw the pandemic as an opportunity to change traditional designs and launched the Streets 4 People Challenge in March 2020. The aim was to create showcase walking initiatives in cities, which focus on placemaking and livability. The bottom up approach is emphasised and the community and its needs are put at the centre of the interventions.

Professionals and students were invited to crowdsource innovative ideas to reimagine their streets as public space through the lens of economic regeneration, safety and child friendly interventions initiatives. In addition, they were asked to respect the following design principles:

1)     Fair distribution of space

2)     Safety and security

3)     Comfort

4)     Sensitivity to local context

5)     Liveability

6)     Environmental sustainability

The winning designs were tested on ground using cost-effective tools in collaboration with the local community. Thus, the Bal Bhavan and IT roads were intervened in order to create walking-friendly streets through quick measures that ensure a green recovery in response to COVID-19. They were turned into an enormous playground where their citizens can play, walk and cycle safely.

The challenge includes several activities to reinforce the citizen-led approach, such as open street campaigns, walking audits with participants and perception surveys.

Moreover, sports (Zumba, Yoga, Garba…) and cultural events (singing, learning about plantation) are organized to bring the citizens together and build up a sense of community while consulting them. Some competitions also take place: photography, cycling for all age groups, graffiti art, etc. A free health check-up and COVID-19 Vaccine awareness campaign are also available in one of the stands.