"Pressing issues of water conservation and food production have come to the forefront in formulating a sustainable landscape strategy."
-- Indian Society of Landscape Architects, Jury Comment on Awarded Project
By 2050, India will add about 400 million to its urban population. As the explosive growth of cities swallows peri-urban farmland, agricultural villages are displaced or gradually convert to slums while water management and food production become severely compromised. Sector 34, a typical example of such urbanization, is a 231-hectare residential sector that will house a population of 52,000 by 2030, in a new greenfield city of Naya Raipur. The sector has an existing farming village - the farmland has been acquired for building new residences and the village settlement is out of the masterplan’s scope. This proposal conceptualizes the site as an opportunity for equitable resource planning through spatial structuring which is crucial in defining the contribution landscape architects can make in such rapidly urbanizing contexts. The socially responsible master-plan is driven by landscape infrastructure for de-centralized management of water and food production, ensuring spaces for both human and non-human users. It creates an innovative paradigm for not only rapidly growing urban centers but also for industrially developed countries where cities often have very large, unsustainable infrastructural footprints.
Naya Raipur, Chhattisgarh
2013 - 2017
Research + Design & Planning
Alpa Nawre, Gaurav Lohiya, Saurabh Lohiya, Astrid Tsz Wai Wong
International AAPME Award - IFLA
National Unbuilt Works Honor Award - ISOLA
Monsoonal Flooding – The region's ample annual monsoonal rainfall of 1270mm is limited to three months causing heavy flash-flooding in cities.
Summer Water Scarcity - The monsoon (kharif) crop is rain-fed but there is no irrigation water for second (rabi) crop.
Ground-water Depletion - Per World Bank, India is the largest ground-water user with water-table falling at alarming rates, true for the site too.
Underserved Communities - The existing village on site is going to be surrounded by new housing to be built on the village’s farm-land. One can imagine that once the new sector comes up around the existing village, it is going to transform into an urban slum. 46% of villagers are illiterate with 11% having only primary education. This weakest section of society does not have any options in choosing their future.
Quality of Life – In urban centers in India, healthy food choices are limited, food contamination is a major issue as is people’s disconnection to food production. In the busy, dense Indian cities, there is no quiet and peace, an inherent quality of the site’s rural landscapes. Similarly, the existing village population have no access to urban amenities such as parks and playgrounds.
Site Characteristics: Existing farmland to be used for new urban development.
Little Bio-diversity – Being a part of the ‘rice-bowl’ of India, the site has a paddy farm monoculture.
Arable Land-loss - Fertile land, rich with alluvial deposits will be lost, which is a threat to all peri-urban agricultural land in India.
Peri-urban Synergies: Urban agriculture is proposed to develop synergies of food and water; knowledge, labour, and money; and public space between villagers and urbanites through a mutually beneficial spatial planning. Part of existing paddy fields are retained to promote stewardship of indigenous farming practices and productive landscapes.
The vision for this master-plan is to develop resilient strategies for food, land and water management that can benefit both incoming urbanites and the marginalized, farming community.
Sector 34 Master-Plan: Landscape infrastructure drives the new master-plan, which ensures space for human users, both urbanites and agricultural workers, and non-human users alike.
Planning Principles: Topography guides street layout so water flows down streets - away from habitation and into retention ponds lower than new development but higher than cereal farms for irrigation. Waste-water is treated naturally in ponds lower than residences but higher than vegetable farms for irrigation.
The kharif crop is irrigated by monsoonal rain-water, while the land lies fallow at other times due to irrigation water scarcity.
FOOD, LAND, AND WATER SYSTEMS
Food Oasis: Agriculture/Food production is a key driving imperative for the design because it links the site’s two different rural and urban demographics, benefiting both by easy access to fresh and nutritional produce as well as creating job opportunities and better quality of life. Part of the existing paddy farmland is retained to ensure stewardship of the productive landscape and diverse urban agriculture alternatives are proposed.
Land Development & Flexible Land Tenure: All residential development is proposed on high grounds to reduce flash-flooding and topography guides street layout so that water flows down streets - away from habitation and into storm-water retention ponds. Urbanites can rent land parcels from the government in community gardens and food-plots for growing their own food/livestock, by themselves or with help from villagers. Villagers can rent retained farmland at subsidized rate from government to organically grow cereal to sell to rice/cereal mills. They can also rent land parcels and ponds for growing vegetables, fruits and aquatic crops.
Water Storage, Re-use & Re-charge: The masterplan proposes maximum utilization of water resources to address irrigation water scarcity. The masterplan uses the site’s high average annual temperature and ample sunshine to treat 100% of waste-water from the new residential development through a series of low-cost primary, and secondary waste stabilization, and tertiary maturation ponds. This water is for irrigation of vegetable farms. 100% of rain-water from roofs is captured in underground cisterns for irrigation of community gardens and food plots. All storm-water run-off is diverted through bio-swales and stored in retention ponds for aquaculture and irrigation of cereal farms for rabi (winter) crop cultivation, thus also reducing flash-flooding. These ponds along with farms helps reduce urban heat island effect, particularly important during the hot Indian summers and lack of air-conditioning in most buildings. Because of the regional karst geology, ground water recharge is carefully managed. Fruit trees use recharged ground-water.
Water is a key issue in contemporary India and needs to be planned as a critical metric in all future developments. Indeed, even population density can be based on the amount of water available as explained in Alpa Nawre's article Water as a metric for urban development in India.
Fresh Produce for Urbanites and Skills Training for Villagers: Existing villagers and incoming urbanites rent and manage different kinds of urban farm typologies. Farm laborers provide urbanites with labor, knowledge & fresh produce; and in exchange, urbanites provide financial benefits and modern agricultural/technical skills training to villagers.
Waste-water from Urbanites provides Farmers with Irrigation Water: Different kinds of water infrastructure are proposed to collect & store rain-water from roof; collect, filter and store storm-water; manage aquifer recharge; and treat & store waste-water for re-use during non-rainy seasons for irrigation in farm typologies.
KNOWLEDGE, LABOR & MONEY TRANSACTIONS
Knowledge & labor interdependencies: While having little formal education, over 85% of the villagers are farmers and have the indigenous know-how necessary to tend to livestock and farms. This knowledge benefits the incoming urbanites who may not know how to care for livestock or have the time. The incoming urbanites in turn bring with them technical skills that they can impart to villagers through adult night classes and improvements in agricultural practices.
Economic Benefits: By having more employment options through multiple farming opportunities and classes to learn technical skills, existing villagers can improve their economic conditions. They can work for themselves in the urban agricultural spaces or, can get payment in exchange for the knowledge and labor they provide to urbanites. With technical skills, they can open their own small businesses.
Food Plots as Street Medians in Row-Housing Neighborhood: Urbanites raise their own chicken, cows & have vegetable gardens for fresh food and in turn, villagers tend to these vegetable gardens and livestock for extra income. Street plazas are over underground cisterns that collect rain-water from roof for irrigation of food-plots.
Agricultural Trail Shared Between Villagers and Urbanites: Incoming urbanites enjoy views of seasonally varied farm landscape from apartments overlooking fields and from shared agricultural trails that farmers use for bullock carts and urbanites use for walking/running.
COMMON, CONNECTED & DIVERSE PUBLIC SPACES
Inclusive Commons: By setting up physical spaces for the invisible symbiotic relationship between farmers and urbanites, public spaces are programmed to catalyze interaction, understanding and social cohesion between these two demographics.
Connected Infrastructure: Public spaces serve both infrastructural and recreational needs so that infrastructure is not hidden away but is a visible part of daily life. Many of these public spaces will have lasting cultural value because they support traditional festivals, such as Holika burning in street plazas, and bathing rituals on pond promenades.
Diverse Spaces: Public spaces are at a variety of sizes such as large community gathering spaces to small street plazas. They are also of different character ranging from ecological stream intersections, naturalistic parks, urban plazas to water-front promenades and agricultural linear trails.
Supporting and Bringing Communities Together: Public spaces are inclusive commons that bring villagers and urbanites together; connected to infrastructure to bring awareness of resource management to the public; and diverse places with varying character, and size that support the characteristic communal celebration of Indic festivals.
A Prototype for De-centralized Resource Management in Peri-urban India: In a country such as India, which completely lacks and desperately needs sustainable precedents of peri-urban land development, this prototype provides strategies for planning urbanization that allows communities to become more resilient in the face of inevitable change.