GB Road and its intriguing architecture in Delhi

GB Road and its intriguing architecture in Delhi


The architecture of old Delhi has always been a topic of my interest. When we talk about Old Delhi the places that strike us are Chandi Chowk, Chawri Bazaar, Lahori gate, Ajmeri gate, Nai Sadak, etc. But we neglect or deliberately ignore the most visited yet not an appropriate topic of discussion…. YES, it’s the GB ROAD.


GB Road
GB Road
1863 map of Delhi. Garstin Bastion was located on the northern part of the city walls
GB Road
GB Road

One of the oldest brothels in New Delhi. During British colonial rule, when New Delhi came up there were 3 brothels, two in the north of Delhi, one in Kashmere gate, and the square opposite the red fort. The third one is the chawri bazaar which lord Hardinge, the viceroy, didn’t close as he thought would be enough as it closed the new cantonment.

But as per Wikipedia, the history of the GB road dated back to the Mughal era and had five red light areas. The red light areas were consolidated into one area which is known as GB road now renamed swami shradhanand Marg. There are more than 100 brothels now. It is the home of more than 4000 sex workers.GB Road is one of the largest brothels in India after songachi, Kolkata, and kamathipura, Mumbai.

Commercial hub

GB Road

The road starts from Ajmeri gate up to Farash Khana . The planning of the building structure along the road is done in such a way that the ground floor has a commercial market which is famous for hardware, machinery, automobile parts, and tools. It is one of the largest markets in the capital. Businessmen from all over India travel here to do business. The first and the second floor have brothels which are active during the night. The streets at the back of the houses in the back are residential areas.

  Planning & Architecture

The brothels along the road in GB Road are low-rise structures constructed in a row. The building is an 80-100 years old structure with very poor maintenance. The building has an open sewage pipe running along the building. There is a narrow staircase that starts from the ground floor and goes to the terrace. The width of the staircase is less than 750mm with no provision for light and ventilation making accessibility difficult.

GB Road
Dark and Dingy staircase of GB Road.

The slope of the staircase is also not as per the standards. The material used on the staircase is concrete which is in a dilapidated state now. There are no building standards followed in the construction of these structures. The first and the second floor have room on either side of the staircase with approximately 10-12 women and girls living in the brothel.


The interior of the brothel is planned without any basic understanding of the space and its usage. The interior is an open plan. The entrance door is alongside the staircase landing. There is an open kitchen towards the left with an open drain running alongside it.


Talking about the street plan is very haphazard. There is no street story, and a lack of dynamism and hygiene in the area. My dissertation topic was ‘’Understanding Indian streets as social public spaces’’.One of the streets that I can choose was GB road, Delhi.Based on the street activities the functions of the street have five principal functions:


The place of work is basically what recognizes a road from a street. The feeling of the place is key to a more extravagant and additionally satisfying condition. It comes generally from making a solid connection between the road and the structures and spaces that cause it.


Arrangement for development along a road is indispensable, yet it ought not to be viewed as autonomously of the road’s different capacities. The need to provide food for engine vehicles is surely known by transport organizers, yet the section of individuals by walking and cycle has regularly been neglected.

Walking and cycling are critical methods of movement,offering a more manageable option in contrast to the auto, making a positive commitment to the general character of a place, general well being and to handling environmental change through decreases in carbon outflows.


Stopping is a key capacity of numerous roads, in spite of the fact that it isn’t generally a prerequisite. An all-around structured course of action of on-road stopping gives advantageous access to frontages and can add to the imperativeness of a road. On the other hand, ineffectively structured stopping can make wellbeing issues and diminish the visual nature of a road

Drainage, utilities and street lighting

Roads are the fundamental conductors for seepage and utilities. Covered administration scan majorly affect the plan and upkeep prerequisites of avenues. Economical seepage frameworks can bring ecological advantages, for example, surge control, making untamed life living spaces and proficient wastewater reusing.

Pedestrian Street

A person on foot is characterized as one that basically disallows engine vehicles movement, besides developing access and time-constrained basic exercises, for example,waste get and benefits conveyances, this is not quite the same as shared road or space which permits engines vehicles to go at low speed.

Types of Pedestrian Street
• Full-time Pedestrian Street: –

Full-time pedestrian streets are those that have very less vehicular movement, just crisis vehicles are permitted, and conveyances are allowed during off-crest hours.

• Part-time Pedestrian Street: –

Part-time pedestrians are those that permit some engine vehicle activity at low speed and a few times vehicles are permitted just in a particular period with no parking spot aside from stacking sound.

•Traffic Calm Street: –

Traffic calm roads are those that have no confinement to vehicle however pathways are broadened with few stopping spaces. This kind of road can be found principally in institutional zone and place where there is workplaces.

GB Road
GB Road

The street activity of the place determined the function of the building and the people using it. It is very important to understand the street space before designing it. Unplanned street space leads to chaos and disruption in routine activities.


The buildings and streets of GB Road just like any other place requires redevelopment of the building with adequate street planning. The lack of these two requirements is one of the major reasons for rising criminal activities on GB road. Government should be sensitive to the needs and demands of the people of their work, culture, caste, status, etc., and not isolate them from the rest of the population.

Trapped in claustrophobic cubbyholes opening into ‘pan’-stained corridors, many sex workers, robbed of chances to exercise choice in their lives, expressed disillusionment, saying they have little or no hope from any of the parties that knock at their doors every five years.

The quint

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *