Transformation of Urban Open Spaces of Lahore: From Charing Cross to Faisal Square

N. Naz, Z. Ashraf


With historical roots in cities all over the world, public open spaces have been considered as a powerful component of urban fabric and means of transforming communities. Square, which is one of the expressions of such public spaces, has been identified as heart and soul of the cities by giving them identity. With the development of cities, the squares acquired more and more functions. At first, the squares were established at the crossroads of important trade routes where exchange of goods as well as ideas took place. Another important function of the public squares was that they served as an opportunity to exercise the power of rulers with military processions and parades. Since the invention of motorized traffic, squares were turned into vehicular crossings to facilitate safe and effective movement. Whatever, their manifestation, squares have, undoubtedly played an important role in the public domain of the built environment. Charing Cross, renamed, as “Faisal Square” in Lahore is one of the classical examples of urban open spaces lay down during the British Period. It acquired its present form over a century and thus, contains many layers of nation’s history. Despite its historical, architectural and national significance, there is a dearth of available literature pertinent, to it. The authors being aware of its urban value felt inclined to unfold socio-political forces shaping its architectural configuration. Documentary search and office of the Chief Architect, Punjab archives provided the relevant material in compiling this research. This research paper would be beneficial to bridge the missing links for the architects, urban designers, historians, conservationists and above all for those who are in love with Lahore. This paper will not encompass detailed designing of the flanking buildings not to digress reader from the main topic.

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