Landscape strategy for Silvepura, India
Design from a one-week travel charrette.
In the villages surrounding Bangalore, one of India’s most rapidly expanding cities, political corruption and lack of zoning reinforcement leaves public space up for developer appropriation.
A networked series of 500 year-old bundhs (an ancient water damming system unique to southern India) defines the vast territory with nearly 1000 man-made lakes that vary in depth seasonally and yearly. Although the lakebeds are public territory, predatory and exploitative developers have taken advantage of an extensive dry period to partition and sell portions of these lakebeds as residential property—thereby illegally privatizing common lands with little or no legal repercussions.
This project proposes a spatial strategy for territorializing the entirety of the lake bed for public use.
Here we demarcate and fortify common ownership of Lake Hesraghatta and place our stake in the ground before a developer can.
The project takes direction from the traditional Mantap—a shaded folly and walking destination that was also a respected denotation of Bangalore’s territorial limits.
A strategic placement of objects through the lake bed will guide visitors from populated areas on the site perimeter, down, through, and across the lake bed—thereby defending the space not only through landscape obstacles, but also through regular public occupation.
A series of pathways, both built and inferred, with supplemental appendages and occasional outcroppings will stretch across the field in contextually-based gneiss granite, becoming part of the environmental cycles of the established common space.
The components are arranged to shift the landscape along several scales of time: hourly through its shadows, seasonally through submersion and reappearances, and even by decade as some are designed to capture sediment and therefore will reshape the landscape slowly through the years.
The final grammar of the design is meant to be a subtle aesthetic, but not pseudo-natural. Pathways will be guiding, but not sharply delineating. Artifacts will aid multiple usages, but not strictly programmed.
The sheer scale of the work requires that any built artifacts be inexpensive, rapidly available, and inherited from the regional vernacular. A short catalog of forms will be developed, limited to only the gneiss granite slab (the most common and affordable building material in the region) with two regional detail techniques: a slab gap often seen in the area’s compound wall and a dovetail joint seen in temple construction.
Forms are meant to remain minimal, but to display just enough design intent to classify them as objects that have received attention within an occupied ground.