Bala N, Chandrasekaran S, Ganesh Babu R P, Preetika B, Radhakrishnan T R
Awards & Mentions
- Second Prize | EnteKochi-Competition
- Currently in Masterplan and DPR development stage (Early 2021)
A water driven collective framework towards a resilient Kochi.
Kochi, with its strategic coastal location, has always played an important part in the trade, commerce, and vibrant local economies of the region. Its significance in the region is largely due to its extensive green-blue network, with interconnected canals, rivers, lakes, and backwaters- the backbone of urban development. However, the fact that the complex water system is also crucial for the city’s water drainage, flood protection, coastal defense and resilience of the communities around it, is largely ignored with the pressures of urban expansion. The resulting stress on the ecological networks of Kochi exposes it to the effects of climate change and annual flooding- one that disproportionately affects the urban poor and vulnerable.
Kochi needs an integrated urban vision that acknowledges the critical intersectionality of the ecological, infrastructural, social, and governance dimensions of the problem. Weaving with Water is a water-driven collective framework towards a resilient Kochi, that addresses the intersections between four dimensions: Ecology, Infrastructure, Community, and Governance. The project layers four strategies that create:
- Regenerative blue-green networks for a resilient Kochi
- Adaptive infrastructure for an economically thriving Kochi
- Livable neighborhoods for a socially inclusive Kochi
- Collaborative decision-making for an equitable Kochi
The Kochi regional vision can be realised by a set of design interventions, solutions and policies, collected as a toolkit. The toolkit provides multiple water-based tools/solutions to specific issues observed along the canal in the layers of ecology, infrastructure, community and governance. The tools and solutions are organised along scales, stakeholders involved, spatial typologies, cost, and carbon footprint of the interventions. When used as part of the scenario building game, the toolkit ensures that technical knowledge is accessible to the community and provides agency to all stakeholders in the decision making process.
The Mullassery canal is used as a testing ground to demonstrate the implementation of the multi-pronged design toolkit to tackle the larger ecological issues faced by the Greater Kochi Area. The Mullassery canal is reimagined as a water-sensitive zone, regenerated and activated through site-specific water-based interventions selected from the toolkit, to add ecological, infrastructural, and social value to the surroundings.
The process-driven approach aims to co-produce site specific solutions in collaboration with the local stakeholders by using the design toolkit as part of a ‘scenario building game’. With the basics in place, a thriving canal area is co-created with the concerned stakeholders by using the toolkit as part of a scenario building game. The scenario building game brings communities, governments, designers, developers, and individuals together to find water-sensitive, integrated solutions for the Mullassery canal area. The toolkit can be used in other canals of the city that face similar problems, to co-produce solutions and envision a collective future with the local community, in a truly participatory process. The Mullassery canal app connects communities and other stakeholders and ensures accountability by making sure that the evaluation metrics of the neighborhoods are available to all.
Site C: Revive
The mouth of the canal and the Priyadarshini Park (Mullassery Park) are envisioned as eco-sensitive zones – with mangrove belts, retention basins, micro wetlands, and floodable sport arenas for effective water management. The canal edges are softened and made flexible for multifunctional uses along the Market road – tree cover is densified to create a continuous green corridor along the canal. The cycle and pedestrian network along the canal and across Priyadarshini Park gives seamless, last mile connectivity to the Intermodal Mobility Hub (boat jetty, bus station and informal transit).
A new Canal market will streamline the informal vending and create an active community space that is well connected to the green network. The public space around institutions like St. Xavier’s college and the Kochi Refineries Park are designed with gender sensitive elements – porous street edges, safe lighting, inclusive furniture, to make the space safe and usable for all . A public amphitheatre is proposed around the existing pond area in Priyadarshini Park, as a public platform (forum) for open, democratic discussions about the area’s development, and to give stakeholders and the local community more agency and room in the decision making process. The layered interventions weaved across the site transforms subsite C into an active public space that leaves rooms for both people and nature to interact and thrive.
Site B: Retrofit
The design approach at Site B was to retrofit eco-sensitive and water management solutions to the existing urban fabric, with minimal transformation: green roofs, roof gardening, community-level water storage tanks, micro detention basins in form of rain gardens, water courts inside building, green frontage, and permeable floor spaces for parking, porches, and terraces. The connectivity from Maharaja Metro station to Boat Jetty and to the KSRTC Bus stand is improved with a dedicated cycle and pedestrian footpath along active street edges. Access to services is improved with lighting, street furniture decentralised waste collection, and sanitation facilities.
To create an active edge and a redesigned street profile, the first row of buildings along the Mullassery canal road are proposed to undergo a phase-wise redevelopment into mixed use, mid-rise, high density, affordable housing (in situ relocation). A community learning center /collaborative workroom is proposed close to the Mahatma Gandhi road intersection to be the centre for data management and knowledge dissemination at neighbourhood level. The series of design strategies across four layers – ecology, infrastructure, community, and governance – adds micro-level solutions to the existing fabric of subsite-B and reimagines it as an holistic water-responsive urban unit. Taking advantage of the minimal existing open space, the design explores the ‘shared public space’ concept by recovering / repurposing frontages, setbacks, and street edges that will blur the boundary between public and private domain.
The four complementary strategies aim to regenerate the blue-green networks of the area, supported by adaptive urban infrastructure and liveable neighbourhoods, weave together a resilient Mullassery Canal through a collaborative governance model. The set of strategies, tools/solutions, and design interventions together envisions to weave WATER with Kochi’s urban life by making it an integral place-making and image-making component at all scales and typologies.