The Changing City Core Dynamics Cultural Studies Essay

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The City Core has always been considered as the most significant location in a town. This area is "the heart, the brain and the soul of the entire urban organism", as quoted by Pierce, N.R. and Hagstrom J. (1981), in "Inner city in three countries".

City core is a cultural artifact. It cannot be understood without its cultural context. Amos Rapoport (1969) defines culture as, "representative of a group of people who share a set of values, beliefs, lifestyle and symbol system." The built form of a core is the result of manifestation of physical elements (social, cultural, civic and recreational).

The 'City Core' is generally considered to be a broader term than the 'The Central Business District' which may be included in the city core. The Central Business District is the functional zone which developed around the area of maximum intra-urban accessibility. As Gordon Cullen (1968) puts it, "Accepting the fact that most towns are of old foundation, their fabric will show evidence of differing periods in architectural styles and also in the various accidents of layout". The Margao city core has undergone tremendous change over the years changing the image of the town.

"Image", especially that of a city, is a loosely defined term according to Dr. Pramod S. Shinde (1988), in his book titled "Imageability in Indian cities". He quotes 'Many have confused it with the perception of the city, while some have associated it with its skyline. Psychologically speaking 'image' is a revived stimulation and therefore is different from mere perception'

In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the cities' role as an impetus for innovation and regional economic growth in Goa, whether it is the administrative capital Panaji or the commercial capital Margao. The aspects which define a city totally depend on what the core of the city has to offer. This core could contain a landmark or a cluster of civic buildings around which all the commercial and residential sprawl happens.

As Dr. A. K. Rege (2002), states in his article on Margao - Retrospection and Future options, "While planning for the future, it is essential to ensure a smoother transition from the past to the future, establishing a continuum of urban character and historic identity"

Despite the fact that city and regional authorities throughout Goa are increasingly concerned with how their places are perceived and branded, their vision is limited to only the set of technical bye-laws for a building. The topic of urban core development still remains a rather unexplored and neglected aspect of urban transformation processes. To date relatively little research has been conducted on how the present city core developed over the years, on how cities succeed in creating or recreating a brand for the city to be marketed and sold.

Peoples' impression of a building, a particular environment, or a whole city is more than visual. Within the city lie many connotations, memories, experiences, smells, hopes, crowds, places, buildings, the drama of life and death affecting each person according to his particular predilections. Hence we can assume a collective image-map, or impressions-map of a city as a collective picture of what people extract from the physical reality of a city which may be defined as the image of a city.

The dissertation will attempt to define the core of a city based on different parameters which will be supported with relevant literature and theories. These same parameters will help define the characteristic qualities of Margao City Core based on which a new tool of investigation could be established which will assess the spatial and visual character of the defined core of Margao.


Spreriegen P., 1965. Urban design - The architecture of towns and cities. Newyork : McGraw Hill

Shinde P., 1988. Imageability in Indian Cities - The Bombay Scenario . Pune : Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University

Sita K., Phadke V., Banerjee S., 1988. The declining city core of an Indian Metropolis. New Delhi : Concept Publishing Company

Choksi M., 1991. The Urban Core - Understanding its spatial manifestation in cultural context. Ahmedabad : CEPT University

Context of study

Study areas:

Margao Municipal Council Square

Street and buildings adjoining the Municipal Building

Present District Headquarters

Holy Spirit Church Square

SGPDA market area

New District Headquarters and Hospital

Commercial area adjoining the new District Headquarters

Use and relevance of study

Due to the outbreak of urbanization and commercial activity in Goa, Margao being the commercial capital is the most affected with new buildings coming up with no relevance or response to the existing or traditional urban pattern. This study will help in comparing the present core to the emerging core pointing out the necessary traditional aspects which have to be used as stepping stones in forming the new emerging core.

The building is an artifact of socio-cultural events and the aim of this dissertation is to acquire knowledge relevant for future architecture. The study will investigate the domestic lifestyle, use, visual character and spatial pattern of different buildings in a traditional urban context in Margao.

Conceptual Framework

This report builds upon a study of various urban and regional level studies. In particular it looks at how they can contribute to reconstructing the lost spaces. Through selected case studies, the object is to analyze the various approaches and processes that have been undertaken in various other parts of the world. Furthermore, the aim of the study is not only to focus on buildings in isolation, but also on how these buildings respond to the streetscape resulting in physical transformation of the place.

Review of related research

The image that a city builds over ages is primarily based on either its commercial or socio-cultural aspects. Every city core comprises of these socio-cultural, civic and recreational places. Therefore it is of prime importance to study the relation of these places or buildings with man, the streets and now the vehicles. Transport has become a major hurdle creating a web of problems and further deteriorating the character of the place.

Therefore an understanding of the relation between man with the built form and streets along with the visual impact it has on people is vital in realizing the importance of that place and how it has evolved over the years.

Cullen's Townscape study emphasized that the scientific attitude towards the understanding of urban design had obvious limitations. He insisted on towns having "conformity" which was an agreement to differ within "recognized tolerance" of behavior and not the liberty to create chaos. To him, a town from a scientific and commercial point of view presented unity but the scenery of it, he pleaded, was often unfolded in a series of jerks and revelations. This was "serial vision" because of which views of an urban area always existed simultaneously.

Lynch, in his book titled The Image of a city, declared that the environmental image of an object had three characteristics i.e. (1) the identity, (2) the structure, (3) the meaning. "The identity" was the quality the object had to make it recognizable, "the structure" meant the relationship of the urban object with the other objects and with the subject i.e. the observer himself, and by "meaning" he suggested the spatial or emotional meaning the urban object might have to the subject.


To identify various city growth patterns.

To study the various aspects which define a 'City Core'.

To undertake a basic study of the Goan settlement ( Margao )

To understand and analyse the chronological development of the cores of Margao.

To study the importance of the landmarks in the core (buildings and spaces) in defining the changing image of the city.

To understand the nature of activity patterns and the relationship between people and the builtform in the cores.

Research Questions

What is the core of a city? What are its various aspects?

Which are the changing streetscapes in the cores?

What are the different parameters which help in defining the changing character of the city cores?

How can a change in the city core affect the image of a city?

Overall Research Design

It is important to study the various definitions of terms in research questions for using them in the research of the area. Analysis of the observations will be made through the collection of various maps related to the study area and also necessary drawings and documentation to compare the two cores.


The understanding of the settlement and its spaces will be acquired through research and documentation from primary and secondary sources. The findings will be presented in visual form.

Primary data:

This information will be gathered from the area of study in the form of measurement of buildings and interviews conducted with the users of the buildings in the study area. Data will also gathered by interviewing members of Margao Municipal Council, South Goa Planning and Development Authority.

Secondary data:

This information will be gathered in the form of literature and graphical data from various libraries, Department of Archives and Archeology library, Central library, CEPT library, South Goa planning and Development Authority, South Goa Land Survey Department, North Goa Land Survey Department, Margao Municipality.

Analytical Framework

Research will be executed through,

Survey of relevant literature: This involves surveying of all relevant books, articles, theories developed over the years and also understanding the existing dissertation in the area of study.

Survey through interviewing: This involves surveying by interviewing people who are users of the buildings in the core. It includes the formulation of a questionnaire for interviewing people.

Outline of the Chapter Scheme


Chapter 1:


Title of the study

Scope of the study - Background, Context and Importance of the study.

Other related research

Aims and Objectives of the study

Research questions

Scope and limitations

Definition of terms

Chapter 2:

Defining the core

Introduction: City core

Importance of a city core

Constants and Variables

Goan settlement patterns

Chapter 3:

Introduction to Margao

Evolution of Margao

The Margao city core

Establishing methodology to assess the builtform

The present scenario

Chapter 4:

Case studies

Chapter 5:

Analysis - Procedure

Chapter 6:

Findings and Conclusions

Broad findings


Glossary of terms used in the text

List of abbreviations