After the hottest summer in 108 years, we witnessed the wettest monsoon in a decade. Irony or Climate Change? In coming times our resilience is going to be tested. We operate across a wide spectrum of landscapes. In August, our Hyderabad collective received 7 inches of rain and Poomaale 178. While Bhopal and Bangalore were brought to a grinding halt, Poomaale operated smoothly despite 4 times the rain. So why was that?
Plains are very different from hills. In the hills, water gushes down faster into gorges and takes on depth rather than breadth. Secondly, water moves out, potentially eroding topsoil, causing landslides. In the plains, we witness floods and as streams ramble on towards their next stop; it becomes important to capture water.
Apart from a few pockets like Manali, Shimla, Madikeri etc, hill landscapes haven’t altered much from their original form. However, in the plains, especially cities, have witnessed significant changes. Traditionally, old maps and revenue records acknowledged rivers breaking their banks or lakes filling to the brim with terms like Full Tank Level, or Flood Prone Width. With real estate speculation and greed mounting, it became easy to overlook these by redefining nomenclature and justifying their blocking and closure. Thus ignoring that once in a decade rainfall, where the lake doesn’t just depend on inflows from an upstream lake, but the water falling in its own catchment.
This is not some doomsday scenario but a design that is unravelling at an alarming rate. Sensible planning, factoring in aberrations in climate is possible and in most cases, does not mean a trade-off. You can read about how we approached the landscape for housing clusters through this lens at our Poomaale Estate in Coorg here.
Since 1973, over 2003 hectares covered by lakes and nullahs in Bangalore, including Domlur and Koramangla lakes have been covered and reduced to around 917 hectares by 2007 and even further today.
The above image illustrates the dwindling of lakes over time.
On a day with 5” of rainfall, these 1000 hectares alone transforms to 1.3B litres of water with no place to stand. This number grows exponentially when you consider the catchment areas. But nature does not recognise the rules of man. It will find a place which could be the parking lots and drawing rooms of our neighbourhoods.
We are often asked why it take 4 years to build a collective and if it can be done in 2? We could, but do we want to approach landscapes without understanding how they behave and adapt to changing conditions? Do we want to identify homes solely based on the best view (often the excuse for lake view homes and river view chalets)? And most importantly, do we want to give up our resilience for instant gratification? We have answered these for ourselves and are crystal clear on the path we take and we hope to have inspired folks to put on their thinking hats and introspect.