‘Quilt’: A Landscape Mosaic

By Kashvi Soni

Introduction

The project ‘Quilt’ envisions a cohesive and integrated public realm along Gandhinagar’s riverside with a continuously connected pedestrian and bicycling network. It transforms one part of the quilt (a wasteland) into a dynamic Urban Forest Park.

Bird-eye view of the design

This design incorporates a variegated mosaic landscape, along with forests that are conserved and crisscrossed by pedestrian trail networks. An elevated trail is also designed with platforms, sitting areas, viewing decks to create visual and multi-sensory experiences. The elevated path passes through diverse zones offering different vantage points to view and also be in the canopy of dense forests. The landscape zones are programmed to give citizens places for foraging or walking through wildflowers, bamboo groves, or harvesting edible plants as well social programs such as camping sites.

By integrating disparate elements of the riverside, it can achieve both a productive mosaic landscape and a bio-diverse corridor. The proposal does all this while preserving the natural and cultural patterns and processes of the site, linking it to the larger context of the entire river edge.

Existing site conditions

The river when seen as a citywide public space offers not only green open spaces but also very valuable natural spaces within the urban core, where ecosystem processes can be highly functional. The riverside in Gandhinagar, throughout the city, acts as a coherent space and thus it becomes essential to address its development in a larger city-wide context. The flood plain areas and parcels provide an open space for recreation close to nature, quality soil for agriculture, flood protection, and other functions near the city center. But these land parcels along the river and their range of projects and landmarks are disconnected from each other, thus physically and programmatically leaving each piece in this field isolated from the other. These separated landscapes hamper the flow of flora and fauna on-site, by walling off and caging nature in many parts.

Images depicting current site conditions

The potential of the rich landscape and public space is also lost due to the current lack of access to the site- steep contours, wild growth of invasive species, open outlets of black and grey water, and waste disposal on site. There’s a forest but it is cut off from the rest of the stretch, The riverside has an interesting edge and natural ravines but has no access/continuity. There is thus a Potential for new programs and on the other side, there is incessant sand mining and waste dumping.

There was thus a need to stitch the different landscapes for not only the continuous flow of flora and fauna to promote wide biological diversity, but also to instill a unique identity to this ecological resource for the city, the riverside.

Strategy at XL/City Scale

The idea at the XL scale is to give new programs along the river and to create a network that not only weaves the landscape but is also a, over 30km long cycling and pedestrian network for people to traverse through these different landscapes.

XL Map

The map serves as a cartography of the current site conditions, the site’s geology, and hydrological conditions, and the various activities happening on the site, along with the proposed program trail highlighted separately.

The different kinds of land parcels are developed to continuously stitch the place into a network of various kinds of landscapes like forests, villages, composting sites, landfills, parks, etc, while essentially providing natural trails around the city.

Catalog of Propositions

Starting from the landfill site which is proposed as a cycle park, one goes through the trail connecting to existing fish markets and fishing decks, the contoured landscapes then enter the village grain and through while also having a way to the terraced wetland systems. One then passes through the project site, explained further to enjoy the rest of stitched landscapes in a continuous trail.
The red line depicted in this catalog portrays the 9 different ways one will traverse through this connected trail.

Coming to the project site, which is one of the parcels along the riverside, is underutilized and neglected becoming an eyesore for the city, is now envisioned as an Urban Forest Park.

Land and Vegetation Study

To develop this vision, I started by looking at the existing mosaic of the landscape grain present on site. This grain map and sections depict the different types of these grains already juxtaposed to form a mosaic, but a mosaic that is not productive enough.

Existing Grain Map

Historical Imagery

The historical imagery of the site ranging from over 20 years ago was studied to identify the dense vegetation covers to conserve, persistent ravines through the site to preserve and finally the open land, and sparse vegetation covers with scrubs which pose an opportunity for instilling new, richer, denser, mosaic.

L-Scale: Design Development

Site Operations

The design strategy is primarily quilting the terrain and is implemented by the following four strategies: Preservation of the landscape’s assets, “Quilting” productive vegetation into the terrain, Adapting the water processes and water resilience, and finally, Framing the terrain and water with a network of paths and structures: Boardwalks, bridges, platforms, pavilions, and architecture. These 4 strategies, including the subsidiary steps, became the key armature for design development.

Plans

Zoning Plan at L-scale

The proposed plan at the L scale brings forth this idea of essentially quilting the existing landscapes with the programmed landscapes to create consumptive, multi-functional, and productive land uses alleviating the rich palette of bio-diversity and enabling a continuous flow of fauna and flora through and beyond the site. Different zones support and cultivate different programs on the site, apart from the weave of trails, and punctures of social spaces, there are zones for camping, recreation, and other larger extents connected to the site that have been envisioned as parts for the future replication of the concept further.

Proposed Mosaic Plan at L-scale

The proposed mosaic plan builds on the idea of this mosaic by further detailing the planting palette for the colorful and diverse grain. The whites in the plan, serve as a network of pathways and pause spaces, punctured in the mosaic.

Planting Palette

The species and vegetation are looked upon closely, as being built open the exiting species of ground cover, trees, etc. The Palette combined with the plan also introduced newer foraging species, wetland species, and grasses that would be a part of this mosaic

Planting Palette

Sections

Site Section

The proposed section, through the entire site, depicts the varied, typology and land conditions. The mosaic and trail network, decks over water catchments on-site, conserved forest zone with the elevated trail, and finally the riparian edge.

Access from J-road

The J-road, with a ROW OF 100m is re-configured, giving the due street space to pedestrians through wider footpaths, which also serve as access points to the site. This transitional edge of the site is added with Tree and Plantation lanes to create more introverted and personal experiences on this high-speed, arterial road of the city.

Through the mosaic

The section cuts through the terraced and quilted terrain, showing the trails lined with colorful, flowering species, opening opportunities to seamlessly walk or cycle through the network.

The forest and the elevated trail

This part of the section, zoom-ins onto the thick forest and its various complexities. The elevated trail, piercing these conserved woodlands, is an experience of its own, serving newer vantage points to celebrate the cultural and natural history of the site.

Visualizations

View showing the Architectural Insert, its clearing, and the activities around

The architecture, serving as a viewing insert is imagined to be assembled and constructed on-site, using the locally grown Bamboo, thus also generating employment and instilling a deeper sense of association to the forest park.

View from the deck over the river edge, overlooking the other bank

Being on the Elevated Trail Branch which passes through the woodlands