Unveiling duality - An urban design workshop in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry

Unveiling duality - An urban design workshop in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry

  • 20 Nov 2017
  • Sunaya
  • Features

An urban design workshop was conducted at URU Art Harbour in Mattanchery

Uru Art Harbour at Kochangadi, played host to one of the most sought after urban design workshops by a set of budding architects and teachers of School of Architecture, GEC Thrissur on November 18.  It was indeed a locale harbouring heritage and history of the Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. The programme was formally inaugurated by Prof K T Ravindran.

The semester nine students of School of Architecture, Government Engineering College, Thrissur, presented their study on Fort Kochi and Mattanchery in front of a large gathering that included eminent architects, urban designers, and experts from various institutions like INTACH, IUDI, Kochi Smart City Mission, and the Biennale Foundation. The dignitaries included Dr Josna Raphael, Head of the Department of SOA GECT, Prof K T Raveendran, Dean Emeritus, RICS School of Built Environment and former chairman, Delhi Urban Arts Commission, Mr K J Sohan, Chairman INTACH Kerala Chapter, Prof N Ramaswamy, Member Kerala State Art & Heritage Commission, Ar Kurien Abraham, Vice Chairman, IIA Kochi, Bose Krishnamachari, President, Kochi Biennale Foundation, Prof Lakshmi S R, Assistant Prof SOA GECT.

The workshop was composed of two parts - mainly, the students session, where they presented their study followed by a panel discussion. The programme began with the inaugural ceremony, with Dr Josna  welcoming the gathering. This was then followed by the students session which included their presentation aimed at formulating guidelines for the revival of Fort Kochi and Mattanchery using biennale as a key aspect.The objective was to identify the issues in heritage conservation and loss of character in the precinct and also to analyse the significance of biennale in this context. After the presentation, the dignitaries shared their views and comments on the study. K J Sohan spoke about the mosaic of communities inhabiting Fort Kochi and Mattanchery and the need to bring it back to its lost glory. He proposed that a ‘“Reinvention of Kochi” is necessary and now is the right time for imposing strong regulations. Prof N Ramaswamy explained about different masterplan proposals that existed contradictory to the students’ proposals. He also pointed out the issues in our present building rules and regulation defined by KMBR, ASI, etc.

Prof K T Ravindran was indeed overwhelmed to see the students’ presentation. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “The real learning happens only when the streets are experienced, by touching old walls, feeling the wind and the smell of the streets”. He wished the students to continue their studies further and encouraged them to involve in the design plan for its future redevelopment. He used the metaphor of a flute to a person. He quoted, “We are the flute of time, it is important to see how much of this music enters us”. He mentioned that each flute played differently, though every flute had the same number of holes. He calls upon humanity to play the sounds of history.

The second part of the workshop consisted of Prof KT Ravindran’s keynote address followed by a panel discussion. The discussion concluded with comments and questions from the audience. Representatives from IPE Global proposed for collaborative planning strategies with the students. The session had ended with a couple of witty comments from the audience.

Text: Nancy James    Images: Ullas Karuvath

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