The Buckingham canal is one of Chennai’s most significant water bodies, which has played a very important role in the conformation of its urban and environmental fabric since it was constructed in colonial times. However, nowadays the canal lies in the intersection of two generalized structural issues; on the one side, there is an overarching neglect from behalf of the citizenship of Chennai that has led to a progressive deterioration of its environmental condition, and on the other hand, the generalized institutional response to this situation has been not only highly inefficient, but even counterproductive.
Detrimental habits and construction practices have been coupled with lethargic infrastructural responses.
Now, #OCCUPY THE CANAL is not a project of urban redevelopment. Conversely, is the design of activist-based parameters through which an appropriate redevelopment can lately emerge. Is about taking the initiative to raise awareness of the current condition of the Buckingham canal -by temporarily occupying it- while serving as a platform to address specific instances of institutional unaccountability.
In order to do that, we proposed a series of movable devices which can not only travel around the canal but also through Chennai itself, engaging the public with current and possible scenarios of the canal. An unfolding box of possibilities, which can additionally serve as a demonstration of the elements gained from the canal’s transformation: gardens, potable water, sitting areas, gathering spaces, and so on.
The ’Ther’ (Tamil word for chariot) is a vehicle that -during certain celebrations- brings the god out of the temple and onto the streets; what is otherwise reclusive and isolated, becomes public and festive. In the same manner, we surface a discourse limited to specialists and legislators to the reach of rightful citizens. However, this emergence is set not in the realm of consumption but in that of active transformation: our ‘Ther’ is an instrument of interaction, inquiry, and projection. A small urban event of massive ambitions.