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.
Eco Resort Yelagiri is designed in the beautiful hill station of Yelagiri in Tamil Nadu. The theme of Architecture is derived from the local vernacular mud and stone architecture of the tribal settlements of Yelagiri. The site is an inward looking wooded estate, with a gently sloping terrain. Thick vegetation and slopes studded with rock boulders and outcrops are features of the site that are preserved while planning this resort.
Mountain Shadows Lake Resort is an eco-friendly resort layout designed in a scenic setting at Wayanad. The 50-key hospitality project is being developed based on cluster based planning, with each cluster being self sufficient with solar power, rainwater harvesting, biological waste treatment etc. The site planning is done with minimum disturbance to existing terrain. Approach to land planning and landscape design is such as to evoke indigenous landscape’s true spirit.
The Wild Orchid Estates sits on a naturally beautiful, gently sloping terrain of Yercaud. Flanged by coffee estates and forest lands, this property is lush green and blessed with plenty of large trees and variety of plants. Wild Orchid Estates is planned in 40 acres of land. This is planned as a community project with members owning estate acres along with holiday homes. The project is planned with all common facilities for passive and active recreation. Plantation crops of coffee and aromatic plants are preserved and enhanced. Landscape of the campus become the unifying and unique feature of the project, which attempts to exhibit the genius of the eastern ghats. The public areas are treated with such finesse giving an international and yet natural feel.
Luxury & Eco-friendly holiday villas of Wild Orchid were designed with minimum ecological footprint. The design incorporated a seamless blend between indoor and outdoor spaces. The buildings were designed in such a way that none of the trees were cut while setting them, the placement followed the contours. Spaces such as decks, patios, verandas and balconies connected the inside spaces with external courtyards and further with surrounding nature.
Sembra Valley is an eco-sensitive development in the rare folds of the true nature of Kodai Hills far away from human habitation. A place is created, submerged and surrounded by nature, where an ecological garden becomes the canvas and eco-sensitive architecture plays out as eco-lodges, eco-topos and eco-forums. An organic vegetable farm becomes part of the planned facility, which promises ultimate naturopathic experience.
Saraswathy Vidyaniketan is one of the leading CBSE school of central Kerala. The current master plan and proposal for School’s Main Block, Auditorium and Sports Facilities aim at taking the school to greater heights in academics and sports. An eco-friendly approach to site planning and master plan is conceived to utilize the gently sloping terrain to the advantage of locating structures and sports fields.The blocks radiating from a central courtyard provide privacy, noise reduction and result in increased ventilation and day-light. Framed structure with exposed hollow blocks is part of the eco-sensitive approach to building design. While it is helpful in heat insulation, the load of the structure is brought down thus saving on structural cost. Plastering is completely avoided to further reduce cost. An elegant approach to landscape for the foreground and courtyards and an eco-friendly landscape approach to the rest of the campus is devised.
Living earth is a nature living project in the Cardamom Hills of western ghats. An eco-sensitive approach to carve out living spaces in the canvas of tall and wild trees, spice plantations and breathtaking surroundings. Trails are made without disturbing a single tree, paved with stabilized mud-paths. Drainage swales are made of reused terracotta tiles. Cottages use dry-rubble masonry for retaining walls and foundations. Stabilized and rammed earth walls for super-structure and mountain grass for roofs. Rustic interiors, oxide floors and robust wooden furniture. Zero use of concrete is maintained throughout the project. Climate allows for a low energy footprint.
This resort is planned in one of the virgin valleys of Kodaikanal in the Palani Hills on the Western Ghats. All one could see from the location is stunning views of mountains and valleys wrapped with stone boulders and green meadows. Taking cues from the location’s natural beauty, an architectural language is derived, where the resort itself looks as a blend of granite stones and green meadows.
An eco-friendly approach involving organic farming, use of alternative energy, water harvesting and biological treatment and reuse of all wastes is adopted. The site planning is developed with minimal disturbance to the natural terrain of the site. A detailed site analysis preceded the planning exercises enabling conservation of soil, vegetation and storm water channels of the site. Innovative modern techniques are developed for creating living roofs. Selection of the indigenous palette of meadows makes it easy to maintain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.