Creation of Sponge Cities – Hinduism

With flooding a global concern, from Pakistan to Bengaluru, experts are redesigning buildings, rethinking eco-friendly materials like bamboo and studying how cities can absorb excess rainwater.

With flooding a global concern, from Pakistan to Bengaluru, experts are redesigning buildings, rethinking eco-friendly materials like bamboo and studying how cities can absorb excess rainwater.


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With rains, floods come – from Pakistan to Bangladesh, northeastern India to Bengaluru. Across the planet, the devastating effects of global warming and man-made disasters are prompting experts around the world to rethink how buildings are designed and cities are planned. From practical solutions and research publications to digital technology, land porosity and the permeability of cities are emerging as a major concern in the response to flood mitigation.

rain silhouette: Dilip Da Cunha, Landscape Architect, Bengaluru and Philadelphia

Rivers have been the backbone of civilizations, and thus, we associate floods with overflowing rivers, but Bengaluru has no major river or natural lake: the recent horrific flood of rains rocked the country. Rethinking flood resistance can begin with architect Dilip da Cunha’s call to reimagine how we understand water. He has authored several books on rivers, floods, and changing landscapes, and notes how Bengaluru’s “lakes” such as Ulsur are actually rainwater reservoirs made by damming. traditionally lessIn the Deccan lowlands, these man-made intrusions capture rainwater.

During the recent floods in Bengaluru. | Image source: NDRF

At an event titled “Bengaluru Requires Imagination of Rain,” Da Cunha said, “Everywhere I went, I became more and more impressed with the Bengaluru reservoir system.” Da Kona, co-director of the Risk and Resilience Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, believes that our solutions in India for water management are inspired by drainage. He suggests six practical ways forward. Guttering Detection: Make the open gutters we need to keep them clean, planted, and porous. Consume water in tanks. Reconnect rainwater drains to tanks. Retake the lowlands wherever and whenever possible. Digging open wells in the lowlands, educating people about the imagination of rain.

Make more soft spaces: Swati Janu, Architect, Collaborative Social Design

“Strip the concrete!” It is the crux of activist architect Swati Janu. Janu is the main force behind Social Design Collaborative, a community research and design and arts practice based in Delhi. “The primary problem is over-draining and the runoff doesn’t allow water to seep in.” Jano is speaking to me from Montreal, Canada, where she is attending a CCA residency called “How to: do no. Do no harm.” “In European cities, they are starting to rethink their yards. While they are great for winter, with climate change, summer is becoming increasingly hot, requiring less paving and more trees in these yards.” While overall urban development is difficult to undo, Janu’s simple solution to minimizing negative consequences is to provide more soft spaces – curbstones instead of paving blocks, retaining earth mud instead of concrete parking areas – that allow water to naturally seep into the soil.

a To connect a house. | Image source: Getty Images / iStock

Jano exhorts, “Live lightly, the way we traditionally used to live, with the least amount of footprint.” However, in light of the ambitious models of concrete, glass, and composites, how can indigenous building methods be promoted? “Not enough research has been done into traditional materials, and this is another setback,” says Jano. “Materials like stone, bamboo and clay have always been considered. To connect While cement and bricks are now seen as Boca. Concrete is still preferred for Boca Living. At least in rural areas, local materials and hybrid building technologies can be supported.”

Do like Auckland: Sachin Kumar, India Office Manager, ARUP

Dedicated to sustainable development, Arup is a group of 16,000 designers, consultants and experts working in 140 countries. Head of India Office at Arup, Sachin Kumar talks about how they view green and blue infrastructure – parks, gardens, ponds and lakes – that hold the key to the city’s ability to manage heavy rainfall and other effects of climate change, such as extreme heat events.

Auckland City | Image source: Getty Images / iStock

The new Arup survey assessed a city’s ‘sponge’ or natural ability to absorb rainwater by quantifying the amount of green (trees, grass), gray (buildings, hard surfaces), and blue (ponds, lakes), also taking into account species designated soil. With the help of Terrain, an advanced digital tool. Our message is simple, wrote Mark Fletcher, global water pioneer at Arup. Cities should ask – “How spongy is I?” Arup’s Global Sponge Cities are seven cities where Auckland, New Zealand, topped the list with 35% of sponges, while Mumbai came in third and equals Singapore with 30%. Sachin Kumar asserts, “Our survey is not intended as a scorecard, but to show how we can use digital tools for cities like Mumbai to help expand blue and green infrastructure.”

Each city has its own unique ecosystem and terrain, and built environments must necessarily respond to these inherent patterns. Disasters drive innovation and now, they require us to reimagine water – the key to sustaining life on Earth.

Bamboo Solutions by Yasmin Lari: Pakistan Heritage Foundation

Yasmine Lahiri | Image source: WikiCommons

Pakistan has one of the most fragile ecosystems. After the devastating 2005 earthquake, Yasmin Lari (81), Pakistan’s first female architect, switched from high-class “stellar” architecture to “no-cost” “low” social architecture. Larry’s participatory approach to involving local communities in rebuilding their homes has been highly praised. Her carbonless shelter designs such as the ORS (One Room Shelter) and Lari Octa Emergency Shelters are primarily made of bamboo, and can be assembled in just a few hours.

Tanks to the Rescue: Madras Terrace Architects, Chennai

Madras Terrace Architects advocate nature-based solutions to holistically address water conservation to solve sewage, supply and flood problems. There is also the reusable aspect of water, rather than being sent to land. “Our wastewater treatment plant uses natural methods with banana plants to ensure the water comes out clean and is recharged,” says Sudhendra NK. The group’s flagship project “City of 1000 Reservoirs” proposes a comprehensive solution to the problems of flooding, water scarcity and pollution by considering all interrelationships.

The writer is a brand strategist with a design background from SAIC and NID.

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