Adyar wetland reserve and the Poonga Ecopark is an environmentally significant project in the city of Chennai. Idea Design worked on this project as landscape architecture and urban design consultants with Mr. Joss Brooks, renowned ecological restoration specialist of Pitchandikulam Forest Consultants, Auroville. A combined fresh-water / salt-water ecosystem has been revived to make it an ecologically rich and diverse system for migratory birds and estuarine ecosystems along with coastal vegetation being the significant link to tie them together.
Environmentally sensitive approach is given for the water and waste management. The sewage and waste water which flows from the city to this creek is treated using ecological planning techniques. Each aspect of the park demonstrates a strong commitment to the environment. An ecoforum is proposed where man can interact and interpret different ecosystems of the park. The park will also become a center for education and environmental awareness. Demonstration of working models of sustainable technologies for human habitation is another important feature of the park. Idea Design worked as part of the team who prepared the Ecological Restoration Master Plan. The Project was implemented by Pitchandikulam Forest Consulatnts and Idea Design provided detailed design services working together with ecologists from PFC.
Once a garbage and debris dumpsite, the park has recently recorded more than 100 species of birds, 100 different species of fish, 56 species of butterflies and 25 species of reptiles. The white-bellied sea eagle for the first time in these parts a month ago. Flamingos and painted stork have also returned here. This richness in biodiversity is in itself an indicator of the success of our restoration efforts. A total of one-and-a-half lakh saplings of 400 indigenous species of plants have been planted in the restored area. Being a brackish water ecosystem, seven different varieties of mangroves and associates were planted on the site, and was able to successfully restore the estuarine wetland ecosystem.
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.
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.
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.