Tripunithura Heritage Zone – Conservation Management Plan

Biley Menon and a Team of Architects took up the task of surveying the heritage of Tripunithura, a prominent heritage zone in Cochin. Tripunithura was the seat of the Rulers of Cochin and has a rich Kerala and Colonial Heritage owing to large settlements including several massive palaces, temples and other landscape and ancillary structures.

Within the heritage zone, Fort Complex and Hill Palace Complex were treated as special precincts in the heritage surveys and planning. A comprehensive mapping of heritage precincts, structures and features were carried out and detailed analysis was conducted with respect to current issues. An outline development and management strategy was drawn for the heritage zone considering historic identity and modern context.

Vembanad Life Region

Biley Menon & Chitra Biley worked together on conducting a research of the Vembanad Lake Region, in their early days of practice, inspired by the unique cultural and natural ecological values of the Ramsar Cite. The research culminated in defining an ecological life region, identifying the values of this cultural landscape which unify the region. A combined research on cultural and natural history produced brilliant discoveries, which were appreciated by many professors, ecologists and historians.

The study involved intense stages of data collection, which were available only in bits and pieces as the history of this part of the world were hardly written. Relatively unknown paths of combining the geological history and trade history almost created a new approach to studying the history of a region. Architectural uniqueness of this cultural landscape rippled in different parts of its traditional settlements in this region, where seven rivers flowing from the western ghats join this lake system before flushing out to the Arabian Sea.

An effort was done to depict the regional architecture image of the vembanad lake region. A detailed study of the regional traditional architecture was carried out in areas of Athirampuzha, Changanacherry, Pulinkunnu, Monkombu, and Chambakkualm. This database of Land planning to architectural details were translated into a cultural centre layout. This symbiotic expression of land and water evolved a vocabulary for design. The rich cultural landscape of the region became the overriding theme for the entire design for the resort. In spite of the project not becoming a reality, the study and documentation of this cultural landscape has inspired us throughout.

Ecological Restoration of Lakes

Idea Design had worked on a conceptual presentation for Ecological Restoration of Lakes, primarily prepared for Lakes of Bangalore, but applicable for Lake Systems of the sub-continent in general.

The presentation looks at restoration from a regional planning level to restoration of edges and mosaic of ecological-patches and finally to the lake’s urban interface and landscape solutions. A comprehensive landscape planning approach will only ensure the success and longevity of restoration. Each lake will have its own ecological and urban context, both of which have to be studies and carefully dealt with to come up with solutions which are sustainable.

Milgram Dairy Valley, Vandiperiyar

This is a unique project planned 600 acres of plantation hills in Vandiperiyar. The project while preserving its essential farming component (mostly tea, along with coffee, cardamom and other spices), converts the entire farm land to 200 virtual dairy farm units of 1Ha and 20 Cows each owned by investors.

The joint management will continue the plantation activity along with developing joint milking parlors for the cows owned by investors and the company, creating one of the largest cattle farms in India. Being located in Vandiperiyar on the Western Ghats (near Thekkady), this project attracts many tourists. Plantation and farm visits are the major tourism attractions in this otherwise stunning landscape. The task involved land planning for Dairy Farm Units and overall Landscape Planning. (Status: Unbuilt)

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Toda Architecture – A Study

While Dravidians dominate the south and dictate urban culture, tribal communities still inhabit some hills and jungles. In the Nilgiri hills of northwest Taml Nadu live the Toda, and other smaller tribal groups survive in the dense rainforest of the Western Ghats. Toda’s are most interesting and least numerous, tribal people of Tamil Nadu.

Biley & Chitra went on a study trip to the Nilgiris and sketched down some interesting aspects of Toda Architecture and Site Planning.

TODA ARCHITECTURE – Study by Biley & Chitra

Pallath Raman Cultural Centre, Fort Cochin

This public space situated in one of the oldest part of the city, Fort Cochin is named after the great Malayalam poet, Pallath Raman, who had spent his last seven years in this land. Owned by the Corporation of Cochin, it is part of the Heritage Zone and adjacent to many historical as well as religious monuments and structures.

The Landscape for Pallath Raman Memorial Cultural Centre tries to see it as a multi-functional Public Space. The vocabulary of design and selection of plants are inspired by the Heritage Zone itself. The main purpose of the organized public space is to give space for large public gatherings during occasions of cultural programs and performances. During other part of the day it also can act as a public space/park where people can just be and probably spend time in the shade, or have a morning / evening walk or a play space for the children or gathering space for cultural groups.

Ayur County, Munnar

This resort is located in the naturally beautiful hill station of Munnar. An eco friendly destination with facilities suiting its environment and surroundings accommodates a full-fledged tourist resort of superior class. The resort also offers investment opportunities as well. The land is to be developed. The entire area landscaped with indigenous plants and minimum disturbance to nature and existing vegetation.

Stretched over 25 acres of land, and adjoining a cardamom estate of 500 acres owned by the promoters, this resort also offers activities such as rock climbing, boating, trekking, camping, horse riding, cycling, farm visits, plantation visits etc.