Eco-Adhocism: Forms of Bio Architecture
by Parth P
Gandhinagar, widely known as the green city, has ironically framed its evolution or identity under the umbrella of monumentalism. City explains itself through two systems. One part of it refers to the large-scale buildings and public spaces overwhelmed by ornamental landscape that has forgotten or neglected its interaction with the people of the city. The other half comprises of landscape next to the river that has taken shape in isolation, untouched and unexperienced by the city. Physically demarcated boundaries between these two have created a void, unaware of possible speculations of re-creating city’s relation with nature.
The project ʻEco-adhocismʼ attempts to involve the unexperienced landscape into the city through redefining the idea of public infrastructures in Gandhinagar. The project aims to develop forms of bio-architecture that caters to social, functional and ecological characteristics appropriated to distinct land conditions. It redefines the unregulated expanse of river side through exploring the possibilities on existing site and enhancing them through the means of bio-architecture or follies spread across the site. Thinking of infrastructures that adapt not only to the fragile evolving nature of landscape, but also allows itself to work within the boundaries of ecology. Also being a public space, these forms become tools or method of creating diverse spatial journeys or experiences across the river site.
The site can then act as a precedent to its context for the inferences of such social, functional and ecological characteristics, a guide for city to understand the significance of these as a part of evolution. In order to enhance or bring coherence in development of an urban agglomeration, city needs to understand its relation between the urbanscape and its response to scales of ecology.
Existing site and its context in relation to the city
The city currently has an urban setting and other is the landscape that sits next to the river. As the city grew, the river has remained as a relatively unexplored ground. Even though this patch of land has remained untouched till great extents, the site offers a varied catalogue of land conditions and patches.
The river site and its character
Site offers variety of micro and macro ecosystems and livelihood in many forms. It includes village as a collection of socio-cultural patch combined with domestic habitat and lemon plantations contributing to the local economy. Functional patches cover government quarters, circuit house and botanical garden. Lastly the thickets of forests and bawad on the river edges creates dynamic scenarios and topographies that caters to biotic and abiotic components of the site as well as the city.
These snippets were used as a method to understand different land conditions and patches on site. A 50m x 50m of patch hosts many transitions and changes in topographies through which we can understand dynamic characteristics of the site ranging from patches of bawad to zones of forests.
L Scale Programs
Exploring the river edge raises two questions –
How can we further enhance these distinctive experiential patches that has a lot of richness and biodiversity to offer?
How can we unlock this expanse of landscape to be in coherence with city where one can experience different grains of forests, agricultural land, foraging gardens, and marshlands?
Site operations situates itself as inferences taken from the existing condition in order to regulate the expanse of the river site. Starting from the existing entry points to laying down the network of trails, the methodology sets up current context as a platform working in coherence with the interventions. Grid layout refers to feasibility of distributing forms in way that is not overpowering the fragile nature of landscape.
A system of bio-architecture is imagined that work on the basis of co-existence between built forms and landscape patches. These are simple follies spread across sites – designed in response to the micro conditions, and can allow different degree of human penetration and support lives of other urban fauna. There are three primary categories of follies – Ecological, social and functional. The site has been reimagined in terms of lands patches that offers diversity in terms of providing various journeys of spatial experiences along with the forms of bioarchitecture. The forms allow the margins of speculative possibilities that are unprecedent, leaving the joy of surprises that a diverse landscape can offer.
The plantation palette further enhances the existing bed of ground cover and trees through a catalogue of species that are found in and around Gandhinagar like Neem, Kaseed, Amaltaas, Tephrusia, Commelina, Angedi etc. It also introduces foraging species and a palette of marshes and wild grasses that could be used.
Accessing from the J road with 100m ROW, it becomes a transition of how one enters from the city to the site. Green lanes as form of enclosures provides a humble experience of walking and bicycling along major arterial road of the city. Pause points acts as connecting dots that are open to interpretations spread across the site. It gives the gist of what a form might look like. Imagined as broken pieces of a larger forms, pause points could act as pieces that formulates the layer of architecture on site.
S Scale Programs
As one can imagine the site is quite dynamic with a constant change in topography from J road to river edge. I have chosen to elaborate this dynamic character through three smaller sites which offers diverse topography, ground condition, and surrounding landscape. The approach was to preserve such existing qualities and design landscapes that can minimally bring in different enclosures and spatial elements within the site. These chosen plans informs the transitions happening on the site in form of land conditions. Starting from the J road to ending at river, the context explores grains of forests, agricultural land, marshlands etc.
Forms of Bio-architecture
How do these form sits on this fragile landscape and how does it interact. A grid of 12m x 12m is imagined and all follies are designed with a similar armature so that they visually connect to each other. These concept have been further used to elaborate three possible scenarios for forms of bio architecture that are Community garden, Viewing gallery or deck, bio diverse habitat. The central idea is insurgence – that with time, nature breaks the boundaries of the form and takes over it. The name eco-adhocsim takes the stand of creating dialogues through bringing form to the nature in a way that it evolves with its surroundings. Kit of parts breaks down forms into smaller pieces that can be attached or removed as per the specific scenarios. Elements have been categorised in terms of circulation, skins, structures, railings, planting beds, platforms etc.
Social Form of Bioarchitecture
Largely meant for recreational purposes in a natural setting, the social forms find themselves as key to connect with the nature. Imagining one of such ways, Viewing deck or gallery can be perceived as a space for unprecedented activities. Creating dialogues with surroundings through its voids. Enclosed by the grains of the forest, the scenario for the forms speaks about the idea of exploring nature through distinct instances. Physical elements work as backdrop providing platform for such interactive windows for conversation with nature. Other speculative activities might redefine the idea of social form in coming future.
Ecological Form of Bioarchitecture
Created through meshes and skeletons, the ecological form grows or evolves with its surroundings. Lived or experienced by distinct form of flora and fauna, it attempts to functions as a host that caters to the needs of various forms of life. Every aspect of itself imagines itself to contribute to the process of achieving rich forms of habitats in the given natural setting. The juxtaposition of this particular form imagines to kick start processes of bio diversity or can also enhance the current state of it. The premise for the ecological form was to create architecture that lives and evolves with the landscape rather than being perceived as a mundane infrastructure.
Functional Form of Bioarchitecture
A functional form in context of such landscape can actually become points of learning. Spaces that can host activities of education, awareness etc. River canʼt be physically taken back to city but the idea or notion of bringing river back could be justified by building such places of inferences,. One of such scenarios, Community garden hosts activities that are largely functions that work as inferences for its inhabitants. It uses semi covered- covered spaces to create possibilities for regulating activities related to cultivation and learning of the context. Instead of creating moments through the means of membranes, it uses core spaces as an idea to define itself.
As mentioned that insurgence is the key concept, this a demonstration of phases through which the bio-architecture would evolve and be taken over by landscape for a more seamless coexistence. This is the site at glance where one can see a landscape where host of urban fauna can find its home, residents can engage in growing and relaxing, and migratory fauna can find a peaceful shelter.
An overview of how that transition might look like, imagining juxtaposition of bioarchitecture on land conditions
Translating it to City Scale
The kit of part can then be taken back to the city where the catalogue of ecological, social, functional forms have been further extended to cater the scale of it. As seen on the river side, forms were located on the basis of patches and categories they fall under. Similarly at the city scale, land uses can become a factor to contextualise this forms of bio-architecture. City in a way can form a larger network of ecological, social, functional systems that can contribute to its evolution. This method might help in re-imagining the way we are looking at our cities. Can we really afford to have harsh and distinct boundaries that separates instead of blurring demarcations between man and nature?