Excerpt: Shalini Polra, Maharaja Sayajirao University student’s design thesis focuses on rejuvenating and regenerating abandoned lands to restore the lost balance with nature and its surrounding context. The aim is twofold: firstly, open to the public to experience the golden past; secondly, rejuvenating through rainwater harvesting opportunities, scientific methods for land stabilization and restoration to revive the ecosystem and attract migratory birds. Shalini Polra received Best Thesis Award from COA, Two Gold medals for best thesis from M.S University and Golden Trezzini Awards – Honorable Mention for best Museum Design for the thesis.
Introduction: Mining has 40000 years of history, which leads us to the future. But it leaves enormous scars upon the landscape once the mineral has been removed. Human activities transform the original morphology but they don’t accept this new situation. This is to the detriment of the landscape, which is witness to this transfiguration, degradation, and abandonment. What is the future of these impersonal and empty areas? For years the land has remained as a waste, especially in a time where land cost is high and land is an important resource. 3100 mines are working in India and since 2003, 297 mines have been abandoned in condition, which is opposite to the mine closure rule.
The World’s second deepest gold mine – KOLAR GOLDFIELD has undergone mining for over 120 years. Although mining activity has been abandoned for the past two decades. The environmental degradation caused due to excessive mining has left the site wounded, degraded, barren, and ecologically denuded.
Even in its state of degeneration and utter neglect the site has its own beauty which I strongly feel needs to be preserved to help spread awareness amongst people about the consequences of ecological destruction and man-made disasters. The site is in urgent need of healing.
Through my project, I would focus on the rejuvenation and regeneration of these abandoned lands to restore the lost balance with nature and its surrounding context. The aim of my project is twofold. One is to open up the site to tourists, environmentalists, artists, nature lovers, and the younger generation to make them aware and experience that golden past.
The other is to rejuvenate the site through an adaptation of rainwater harvesting opportunities, scientific methods for land stabilization and restoration, the introduction of lost species flora and fauna to revive the ecosystem and attract migratory birds.
I have attempted to retain most of the existing structures as well as subterranean networks of tunnels and integrated them within the tourist trails by incorporating some of the programmatic requirements such as the museum and ancillary facilities. Due to the soil stability goals, the new bridge-like structure overhangs the mining pit and houses the observation deck and museum galleries.
I have consciously adopted a restorative strategy with minimal and selective interventions on the site to maintain a sustainable approach to ecological management. I sincerely hope that my model of development proposed in this thesis will open up fresh debates and discussions which could lead to the adaption of such restoration strategies onto similarly degraded sites thereby creating opportunities for new public spaces and tourist trails that combine responsible educational and awareness programs with recreation and well-being.
[This Academic Project has been published with text submitted by the student]
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