By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
PLANS for a more modernised city of Nassau are one step closer to reality after the Inter-American Development Bank’s Emerging and Sustainable Cities programme concluded its “Urban Design Lab” project yesterday.
The enterprise brought together architecture students from the College of the Bahamas and students from the University of Technology in Vienna, Austria to develop a model to enhance the economic and social livelihood of Nassau.
The Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) is defined by the IDB is a technical assistance programme that helps emerging cities in Latin America and the Caribbean identify, prioritise and structure projects to improve their environment, finances and structural layout.
Director of Economic Development and Planning Nicola Virgil-Rolle said the initiative challenged the group of students to think about a sustainable urban design that would deliver the true essence of the Bain and Grants Town community, an area she called the “heart of the city of Nassau”.
She indicated that focus was also given to transportation capabilities, housing and the economic connectivity between downtown Nassau and the ‘over-the-hill’ communities.
“It’s a community effort, much of this work involved working with members of the community to get their understanding and their vision for what they would want their communities to be,” she said.
Mrs Virgil-Rolle added: “It’s not a top-down approach in terms of urban planners giving something, it has been very much a community based project.”
IDB representative for the programme here in the Bahamas, Florencia Attademo-Hirt, applauded the Bahamian government for its “openness and cooperation” over the course of the project.
Mrs Attademo-Hirt stressed that while the programme has been successful throughout the region, apprehensive attitudes are often expected.
“This is a massive project, lots of people involve, several stakeholders with different views, everyone in the government has been extremely open in what is needed and avenues available to get there,” she said.
“It’s been phenomenal. We want to help the people of the Bahamas to have a better Bahamas. That is our goal. If you ask me what it is we want to achieve here, that would be it. Helping Bahamians to have the best capital city possible.”
Thursday marked the end of the “Urban Design Lab”, but students from the University of Technology now have the task of digitising the models designed while in the Bahamas.
Those digital concepts will be presented to the government next February.
The Bahamas was given a grant of $1.1m to create a sustainable master plan for Nassau from the IDB last year.