The main quest of our project, is leveraging Koundampalayam’s existing infrastructural dynamics to enhance them through strategic operations that evolve by agency of citizen involvement and design flexibility. A way of harnessing existing processes, in order to improve road-network connectivity, increase socio-cultural capital, activate public infrastructures, and provide better physical and visual connections in the neighbourhood. An overarching agenda to achieve a more eco-friendly, vibrant, dynamic, and inclusive city model: we propose a test run of a decentralized and sustainable neighbourhood plan that is scalable in nature, and accentuates on properties the city already possesses in order to maximize its intrinsic values in different projective futures.
As is well known, there is a common lack of faith and awareness on the potentials of public infrastructures amongst the citizenry on account of poor road networks, precarious facilities disregarded by administrative agencies, as well as underutilized or abandoned patches in the city -amongst many other phenomena- that weigher private over public welfare. These structural gaps have weighed heavily on the widening of social divisions, the construction of unsafe environments, and the normalization of deteriorating health conditions and lifestyles. Therefore, our project responds to the dire need to reorganize and potentialize the existing layout, for more equitable and healthy patterns based on a governability of care.
Firstly, we started by focusing on the current mobility situation of the neighbourhood that not only segregates the site into disconnected clusters, but also makes public parcels of land -and potential parks- inaccessible from residential areas. To respond to this issue, we proposed a set of calculated disruptions within the established order, as a way to encourage the emergence of informal, spontaneous, and unplanned uses in the public realm. From an operational perspective, this would manifest through new programmes in the urban realm; in that manner, by improving the continuity and character of the road network we hence seek to stimulate accessibility and connectivity, but also the emergence of cultural manifestations and the enabling of functional flexibilities, which can be facilitated through strategies of spatial adaptability. We see these interventions as the initiators of a ripple effect, capable of activating the flow in an otherwise stagnant environment: the uplifting of existing relations between people, place, and ecological systems by way of mutations, distortions, alterations, modifications, and additions that retrofit existing infrastructures.
Further on, after stating connectivity and the enhancement of pre-existing values as a point of departure, we propose activating urban dynamics by agency of different architectural interventions that harness local potentials. On the one hand, we situate “incomplete infrastructures” at the junctions of either community productive gardens or accessible public spaces, in order to provide spaces for particular development that respond to singularized economic or cultural necessities. On the other hand, we propose a wholesale vegetable market that functions as a part of the city, by opening itself to the movements and dynamics of the neighbourhood without disturbing its scale, while allowing for further developments. An evolutionary logic that is similarly applied to the landscape project, which binds all other interventions together and acts as the main instrument for urban design.
In that manner, Koundapalayam -a place which was once known as an abode for migratory birds- now seeks to rejuvenate its relationship with its ecosystems. A systematic-landscaping project based on buffer zones, ecological corridors, and planting strips along circulation edges capable of creating permeable borders and productive settings. Hence, we emphasize that the synergy between the subsequent, progressive interventions is aimed at the improvement of a healthy lifestyle of citizens, ensured not only by potentializing the site’s natural properties but by implementing ecologic strategies in the architectural level. Thence there is an implicit inclusion of solar-power technologies, water recycling techniques, and responsible waste management systems.
Thus, the alliance between existing and proposed infrastructural processes functions as an open system for resilience; one that works in a constant state of evolution and is collectively operated and managed, thus empowering people and the environment itself. Furthermore, the biggest advantage of proposing public places as ‘unfinished’ is that it allows for an organic, locally-controlled, and context-sensitive growth, wherein the key enabling factor becomes the provision of an infrastructural shell that allows for different activities to plug in and out. Circumstantial add-ons or public nodes, that retrofit the site to make it multivalent in nature. An operational rearticulation, oriented at the engagement of people with build, rebuilding, and maintenance within a completely different paradigm.
In many ways, the objective of this proposal is to create possibilities from something that begins as incomplete yet is in an ever-changing state that requires public interactions to complete and enriched the urban proposal. These disruptions and possibilities have the capacity to strengthen, sustain, and revive citizen-led initiatives working towards the betterment of the local environmental conditions.