ICRIT – Ecological MASTER Planning

Ecological Site Analysis and Site Planning were carried out for the International Cancer Research Institute at Trivandrum. Proposed in a campus of over 30 acres of land in a steep terrain, the site analysis aimed at preserving and conserving ecological features of the site. The detailed vegetation and hydrology study resulted in protection of drainage channels and existing biodiversity. The site planning carefully delineated various functions while preserving a large part of the site as conservation area. Also accessibility, noise levels, traffic control etc were considered while placing the research institute, housing areas, palliative care zone, healing landscapes etc.

WIMS Ecological MASTER Planning

Ecological Site Analysis and Site Planning for the Wayanad Institute of Medical sciences involved study of the topography, soil structure, contours, slope, hydrology, vegetation etc. A comprehensive site analysis of the existing land enabled effective site planning. Further, detailed landscape layout plan was developed with site sections and detailing of key features.

 

Kallar Jungle Resort, Western Ghats

An eco friendly resort conceived in the western ghats with the naturally beautiful site full of tall trees and large rocks creating a forest atmosphere. The site has a long water frontage of about 400m of the Kallar River, which continuously makes the humming sound of flowing water where the river bed is full of rocks. The entire theme is worked out for an eco friendly site planning and development, which will make least disturbance to the land, trees, rocks, streams and so on. This land of 12 acres have many caves within it which almost connects from one end to the other end of the site. The architecture is to follow the traditional style of the tribal huts with a bamboo theme, with tree cottages becoming a specialty.

Farm Retreat, Sembarankulam

This project is located in a remote and serene location at Sembarankulam on the Western Ghats. The first phase consisted of developing an organic farm in 100 acres of land. The farm is one of the largest organic farms in southern india supplying organic vegetables to select shops and bulk-buyers in Chennai and Bangalore. Ecological site planning encompassing several large reservoirs has ensured most-effective water-harvesting & soil conservation and at the same time, adding aesthetic appeal to the organic farm.

The Farm retreat project is located in 5 acres of land right in the middle of the organic farm. The project is conceived as 100% prefabricated construction technique, using Tata Bluescope’s ‘eazy-build & smart-build’ options for the shell and Gyproc for the interiors. As the project is in remote location, it was very difficult to find skilled-labour for construction. The pre-fab approach proved to be eco-friendly, cost-effective and time-saving.

Wetland Park, Vembanad Estuary

Wetland Park a conservation and research centre for Wetland eco-system, its flora and fauna is proposed in one of the islands in the Vembanad Estuary. The park itself will be a live demonstration centre for wetland ecology, mangroves, life cycles of its avian, terrestrial and aquatic fauna.

The project consists of an interpretation loop comprising of walkways, boardwalks, hanging bridges and a parasol ride. A wetlnd interpretation centre is proposed, where initial orientation will be given to the visitors. The eco-sensitive design of the interpretation centre follows the theme of traditional boat architecture. A wetland resech station is proposed in the site, which will become an on-site research station for the department of environmental studies at the local university.

Fort Cochin & Mattancherry Heritage Zone : Development & Management Strategy

Biley Menon was appointed as National Expert for working on a Development & Management strategy for the Fort Cochin and Mattancherry Heritage Zone by UNESCO – New Delhi. A local team of Architects, Conservation Architects and Landscape Architects worked in the leadership of Biley Menon under a group of Senior International and National experts – Cristina Iamandi (Conservation Architect & Urban Planner, France), Prof. KT Ravindran (Architect & Urban Designer, New Delhi) Azziza Alsageer (Conservation Architect & GIS Expert, Yemen), Nocole Bolomey (Landscape Architect, UNESCO New Delhi) and Paromita DeSarkar (Conservation Architect, UNESCO New Delhi).

The team worked in two phases involving onsite surveys & documentations. The UNESCO New Delhi office has come up with a Development & Management Strategy for the Fort Cochin & Mattancherry Heritage Zone including an action plan and way forward integrating conservation and development.

Good Earth, Kottayam

A housing project on the sloping terrains in the midlands of Kottayam. A steeply sloping site of 8 Acres with access at several levels, site planning held the key for the entire development. Promoted by eco-friendly builders, the project was carried out with lush green landscape planned for the the entire project area. The blocks are designed to bring a unique character to the entire housing complex. The slopes were negotiated by split level planning and thus maintaining the natural landscape intact as much as possible. Planned to have a water harvesting system based on a lake planned in the central green space.

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Ernakulam Broadway & Market Urban Renewal

This is the oldest part of the Ernakulam Town. While the British took over Cochin from the Dutch, the market was the first facility to move out from Fort Cochin to Mainland Ernakulam. Later a similar trade-community establishment similar to that in Mattancherry came about around it. This area encomapasses heritage structures and planning features of very high value including the water based market square (seen in the traditional markets along the Vembanad Lake such as Changanacherry, Athirampuzha Etc.), Jewish synagogues, Konkani Temple, Bishop Houses, Old Churches etc.

Due to the increase in intensity of activity and lack of urban renewal efforts, this area is presently under tremendous stress. The plan envisages to reinvent the soul of this place through the renewal plan, and making it the pedestrian friendly core of the inner city. Idea Design Worked on this project with other associate consultants under CHED (Centre for Heritage, Environment & Development), Corporation of Cochin. The project is presently approved by JNNURM (Jawaharlal National Urban Renewal Mission), Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India and will be taken into implementation soon.

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Karits Vernacular Retreat

A unique resort project planned in 2 Phases. 36 exclusive waterfront cottages planned for the resort with combination of one bedroom and two bedroom cottages placed around waterbody within the site. Another 40 room hotel block is planned for Phase 2. The Architecture follows the traditional theme of the place with thatch roof and interiors with all modern facilities. The theme is of the resort is “mind, body & soul” and Naturopathy becomes a specialty for the entire development and landscape in 14 Acres with Meditation and Catharisis centers in the layout.

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.

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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