Project Name: Participatory Housing Approach for Conservation Induced Displacement: Case of Siddi community of Uttar Kannada, Karnataka
Student Name: Jay Kapadia
Awards: Shortlisted in Top 5 - Ethos Student of the Year (SOTY) Trophy, NASA India | Shortlisted in Top 5 from Zone 2 - COA National Awards for Excellence in Architectural Thesis 2021 | Shortlisted in Top 50 - Tamayouz Award for Excellence in International graduation projects | Top 30 Honorable Mention - Mango Architecture: “Architectural Thesis of the Year-2021” | Top 15 Special Mention - Archmello Competition: “Thesis of the Year 2021” | Shortlisted as Student Panelist - Kurula Varkey Design Forum 2021
AutoCAD , SketchUp , Adobe Photoshop , Microsoft PowerPoint
Excerpt:‘Participatory Housing Approach for Conservation Induced Displacement: Case of Siddi community of Karnataka’, an award winning architectural bachelors design thesis by Jay Kapadia from Faculty of Architecture – SCET, Surat, aims to revive the wildlife habitat, as well as prevent human-wildlife conflict through a suitable design intervention for the Siddi community, living in the Kali tiger reserve, Karnataka. The design thesis focuses on four key parameters to achieve new settlement: Participatory approach, Site and services, Incremental growth and appropriate material and construction technique.
Introduction: According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, more than 50 percent of wildlife has been lost in the last 40 years. Today more than 50% of the land is transformed from natural wildlife habitat into agricultural land and other development activities. Much of the world’s biodiversity is concentrated in areas where dense human populations have grown by 15% between 2000 and 2010. Human habitations have fragmented the wildlife habitat with rapid settlement expansion which leads to human-wildlife conflicts.
Historically, Conservation-induced displacement projects have failed to improve the lives of communities after relocation. The top-down approach results in severe consequences at the relocated site in terms of loss of socio-cultural aspects and traditional way of living as communities are left out in the decision-making process.
The practice of conservation Induced displacement projects lacks community participation at various stages which is the key reason for their failure. It requires a deeper understanding of the community’s perception and needs to improve their socio-economic status as well as retain their cultural diversity.
Based on the human-wildlife conflicts, this design thesis showcases an approach to the living habitat with equally addressed parameters for the community, as well as wildlife, in the forest of Karnataka, India. The academic project aims to revive the wildlife habitat as well as prevent human-wildlife conflict through a suitable built environment.
Karnataka is one of the mega-biodiversity hotspots of the world. The state is under a high level of exposure and high level of pressure in human-wildlife interaction, which often results in conflict. The Uttar Kannada district has the highest forest cover in the state with more than 80 percent of the land under forest cover. The Kali tiger reserve is deemed endangered by the World-Wide Fund for Nature. Recently the Karnataka Forest Department has proposed new potential areas to be included on the eastern and western sides.
Although the western part is almost converted into a protected area, especially for tigers and elephants, the forest department is more concerned with the eastern part, as a majority of the settlements have expanded a lot and transformed most of the forest land into agricultural land. Even the change in the movement pattern of animals is a concern for the residing Siddi communities in these areas.
The design process focused around reversing the existing top-down approach into a bottom-up approach where the community is the leader in the process. The approach for the design thesis was led by four key factors: Participatory approach, Site and services, Incremental and material and construction technique. Extensive research and case studies were conducted on the participatory design processes to understand the role of the community.
Through documentation, interviews, design workshops, interaction with forest officers, etc. an appropriate architectural solution was formulated. Through the Participatory approach, various design workshops were conducted with the community through which several decisions were taken.
The whole process of planning and design was based on retaining the traditional patterns and techniques in the settlement formation. The Siddi house has evolved in various geometries as a continuous process of adapting to changing times.
Based on the analysis of various family sizes and income groups, six different house types were arrived at for the new settlement, ranging from 60 Sq M to 150 Sq M of built up areas.
Moving ahead with the ‘Site and Services’ approach, the proposed core house design was based on designing ‘Mojgar’, which is a private area comprising 20% of space, and allowing users to take control over the rest with necessary support services. The proposed core house will enable users to decide how much to build, when to build and what to build for all the six proposed typologies, based on the idea of incremental approach.
The final outcome of the design thesis proposes intervention at various scales starting from the settlement location, settlement layout, clusters, units and the construction technique. At the level of settlement, as discussed earlier, the proposed site plan for the settlement of Gardolli takes into consideration the existing settlement ‘patterns’, and proposes a network of primary and secondary streets that define the individual clusters. The design thesis also proposes an easily accessible and centrally located community space for the settlement (a ‘Village Square’) with common amenities such as a church, a community hall, a veterinary clinic, a primary health centre, a school, an anganwadi, a skill development centre, a public toilet and a village market.
The network of streets define individual ‘clusters’ with their own respective open spaces that are interconnected to form a pedestrian network. Each cluster comprises five to seven house units enclosing a common open space with the presence of a tree and a plinth for common activities and social gatherings of the particular cluster.
At the level of unit, the design thesis takes into consideration the aspect of incremental growth, and the diverse needs of various types of families. To cater to diverse family sizes and income groups the project proposes six different types of units ranging from 60 Sq M to 150 Sq M of built up areas.
The proposal seeks to provide the bare minimum service areas (20% of the built up) with remaining area in the form of plinth for the families to expand on their own, as and when they feel convenient and necessary. The private open space for each unit, defined by bio-fencing, provides place for many agricultural and live-stock related activities that are crucial for the lifestyle of the families. The self-help approach with a simple understanding develops an attachment to houses which retain the cultural identities of the community.
The self-help approach is taken further in the design thesis with the help of traditional knowledge and wise use of technological advancement to construct their “homes”. With the flexibility of incremental growth of the houses and locally available material palette the community participation is further reinforced.
Modern civilisation has posed a threat to the communities like Siddis and their cultural diversity by excluding them from all forms of growth and development. The design thesis addresses the issues unique to such communities, living on the margins of societies, by taking care of their cultural needs and the relationship with topography. The project achieves this objective by initiating the role of user participation in the research and design process. It seeks to create opportunities and improve the socio-economic condition as well as retain Cultural Diversity.
On the other hand, the project rebalances the human-wildlife interaction dimensions through co-existence at the regional level and separation at the local level to prevent conflict and reduce pressure. This design thesis is a demonstration of how tribal communities can be included in the process of growth and development, and how architecture can play an essential role in meeting this objective.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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