A River in Need

Domus - - NEWS - mor­pho­gen­e­sis.org

With in­creas­ing den­si­fi­ca­tion of In­dian towns and cities, there is greater need for space for ur­ban in­ter­ac­tion, com­mu­nity build­ing and pub­lic en­gage­ment. Mor­pho­gen­e­sis aims to achieve this through sus­tain­able devel­op­ment of the river­side ur­ban frontage of the Ganga. Mor­pho­gen­e­sis is one of In­dia’s most in­no­va­tive ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign stu­dios and a world-leader in net zero en­ergy and sus­tain­able de­sign. The firm achieves a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone this year, of hav­ing com­pleted two decades of an ap­proach that looks at the idea of sus­tain­abil­ity through the lens of pas­sive de­sign, re­source op­ti­mi­sa­tion, and con­tex­tual iden­tity. A re­cent project by Mor­pho­gen­e­sis,’ A River in Need’ aims to recog­nise in an en­vi­ron­men­tally con­tex­tual and cul­tur­ally sus­tain­able way, the ul­ti­mate goal to close the cir­cle of life around the Ganga, and to be­come one with the river. The Na­tional Mis­sion of Clean Ganga (NMCG), un­der the Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources, was formed with an ob­jec­tive to en­sure ef­fec­tive abate­ment of pol­lu­tion and restora­tion of the river. Mor­pho­gen­e­sis is en­listed to pro­vide ar­chi­tec­tural and en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tancy ser­vices for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of ex­ist­ing ghats and devel­op­ment of new ghats and cre­ma­to­ri­ums along the Ganga, from Al­la­habad to Varanasi; it is seen as an ur­ban in­ter­ven­tion to ‘sus­tain­ably de­sign the in­ter­face be­tween hu­man habi­ta­tion and wa­ter’. Look­ing at re­ju­ve­nat­ing the us­age of the river, a prime de­sign con­cern in­volves deal­ing with the ero­sion of the river bank, which is ad­dressed by re­search­ing and re­design­ing tra­di­tional ver­nac­u­lar learn­ing of the way the wa­ter edge was treated, such as the ghats lent them­selves to sta­bil­is­ing the river edge along with pro­vid­ing the in­ter­face for hu­man and wa­ter en­gage­ment. The de­sign in­cor­po­rates in­for­mal, tem­po­rary re­tail to ac­ti­vate the ghats con­stantly and pre­vent fur­ther pol­lu­tion. Sec­tion­ally, the ghats are or­gan­ised ac­cord­ing to flood lev­els, with bathing plat­forms at the low­est fol­lowed by the rit­ual space, the gath­er­ing space, and pub­lic ameni­ties at the safe zone. Thus, dif­fer­ent lev­els have been cre­ated for dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties. These ghats, when re­de­vel­oped, will not only serve their tra­di­tional rit­u­al­is­tic pur­poses but also func­tion as ur­ban spa­ces for dis­course and dis­sem­i­na­tion of knowl­edge. In that vein, these spa­ces are de­signed to be Wi-Fi en­abled, and in keep­ing with sus­tain­abil­ity met­rics, they will al­most en­tirely run off so­lar power.

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