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written during a design process stage


The following letter was written as part of a design correspondence to the architect we were partnering with on this project. The note, along with the process sketches that went with it,  makes for decent reading 

dear _________ ,


I think you raise an important point. I would like to outline what we need to do here in this project, in terms of landscape design and maybe explain how the discussion on memory fits in.


Mind you this is an intended road map and will keep modifying as we go along.


as I see it , foremost of all, the open space here should provide succor, from the large, industrial landscape that surrounds this plot. the road and industries around, which are tree-less, cold, and purely rational in their need for efficiency and working, offer no sense of human comfort in terms of a place in the shade or societal resources. this will in turn force our future society, to look entirely inwards with the access to the road providing their only link to the world outside.


so, as far as the landscape design is concerned, the open space environment here must play two important roles. one of them is a sociological role, and the other is its role in place making.


landscape as a setting for society:

assuming that there isn't anywhere else to go, the open space here must set the stage for a large range of social occurrences that run across age groups and usage typologies.


so here we would be talking about a place and design for circulations, front and backyard activities, for “third place” scenarios like reading stalls, congregations spaces across age groups, snack joints etc, a place for community celebrations, sports activities (maybe in the same place), a place for tiny tots, a design for long walks, quiet places with panoramic views.


in this sense, it might be interesting to look at existing outdoor, spatial typologies (like the ghat, the katta, the tea stall by the road, the maidan, the ganpati installation, the temple courtyard, the chauthara, the aangan, the old holy tree, the panchvati etc) and see how these can be used to structure our outdoor social spaces. (a lot of these may, of course, overlap)

landscape as place making:

that being said, i think it is even more important for the landscape to create a sense of place.

in terms of physical space, there are two things that this open space should do.

the first is to provide some amount of spatial variety, which would allow for a variety of spatial experiences as you move thru the site.


here im thinking of longer tree shaded avenues, the walkways in a slope opening towards the valley, the valley itself that allows for a vantage from one end to another, the maidan like spaces flushed with sunlight, the upper areas (maybe) with denser and ‘deeper’ plantation and shadows, the slope areas with a slightly open planting and a wider sense of the sky.


in addition to spatial typology, the landscape here must also present the resident with a few different landscapes as well. so far i have three separate landscape in mind. the lower maidan-like open spaces; the rolling valley with a seasonal grass ecology, and long vistas; and the dense and semi-dense mixed tree plantation around the buildings that may create two or three grades of shaded spaces, and that looks more like an overgrown indian orchard.


this is where the discussion regarding the pune university forest, and the natural history of the site comes in.

i think by creating a landscape narrative in our design, that speaks of this site as being spread across two different landscapes, (one an uphill land from where ephemeral streams flowed and cut the land; and second, the once agricultural flood plain with its distinctive land parceling), will help us in connecting this society to the history and the processes of the land. this in turn would help to create a deeper sense of place.

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