INHABITABLE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
While Sri Lanka's ancient hydraulic civilization is glorified by its people to this day, the country's development follows modern models in which the element is distanced from the immediate surrounding. The project proposes development within the degraded Attidiya wetlands. Rather than protection, the project imagines the healing of the wetland through its appropriation by people. Architecture, infrastructure and landscape merge and the vivacious matter which once defined the island's culture becomes a cornerstone of it's daily life once again.
Tutors: Nennette Jackowski & Ricardo de Ostos
Water flows through an aerated lagoon and enters an open courtyard. It serves the inhabitants before cascading through reed beds back into the landscape.
Decreasing water levels expose the seasonal promenade to the general public during dry season. The network of pathways and ponds submerges in Colombo’s storm water during the wet season, enabling a period of cleansing and rejuvenation.
Water is narrated from public space to the most intimate of spaces. The sheds promote an alternative, defragmented, water cycle and in the process aimto create a deep connection between the people and the wetland they inhabit
HYDROPHILIC GROUNDS, ARDUINO PROTOTYPE
Water is absent; hidden, within our walls and beneath our streets. In the privacy of our homes water is utilized and controlled with precision. When it appears it is only for quick instances before being flushed or drained away. The same is true for our buildings, streets and cities, carefully designed to distance the material quickly and efficiently.
The project imagines an alternative reality; a site in which water is celebrated. Geology and infrastructure are one. Crevices and holes of various forms and sizes are continuously replenished and emptied. As water flows through an elaborate system of veins and arteries it fluctuates in a seasonal rhythm. Abundance and scarcity are constantly reaffirmed. Taps and valves encourage visitors to alter channeling courses and interact with the element in its various states of being. Whether calm and still or streaming, gushing and overflowing it is visible animate and uninterruptedly at work.
Hydrophilic grounds, Arduino prototype, performance video
Hydrophilic grounds, Arduino prototype
Rain collection element, Hydrophilic grounds, Arduino prototype
Pools and springs, Hydrophilic grounds, Arduino prototype
Water tower, Hydrophilic grounds, Arduino prototype
THE ANCIENT HYDRAULIC CIVILIZATION OF SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka is home to one of the first ancient hydraulic civilizations. Its landscape as well as the culture of its people have been defined over centuries through highly sophisticated works of hydraulic engineering. The project examines and draws from two case studies embodying this legacy: the water gardens at the palace of Sigiriya and the tank cascade system.
An elaborate system of underground conduits supply the water gardens situated at the Palace of Sigiriya. Built during the fifth century by King Kashyapa these gardens represents the apex of Sri Lanka’s ancient hydraulic civilization. To this day, during rainfall, its various fountains begin to gush and spring, supplying the site's many pools and water elements.
The tank cascade system functions simultaneously on multiple scales. A water reservoir, also known as a Village Tank, is strategically position in an effective catchment area. A series of such tanks, positioned along a stream and its tributaries, form a cascade system. Finally, multiple systems feed into a major regional reservoir which functions at the scale of an entire basin. The system strategically utilizes the existing topography in conjunction with man-made interventions to capture and retain water that can be then used for agriculture. While the climate fluctuates dramatically between the wet and dry seasons, the system ensured abundance and stability of water (and food) throughout the year.
Water reservoir on top of the palace of Sigiriya
Conduit at the water gardens at Sigiriya
Large village tank, north central region
Village tank and associated landscape structuring
The Bellanwilla-Attidiya sanctuary is a wetland located in the southern district of Colombo. It is renowned for its biodiversity and is considered a paradise for endemic as well as migratory birds. When it was declared a sanctuary in the 90's, it was done so with private properties within it. Since, the sanctuary and its inhabitants have been in a state of conflict. The declaration of the sanctuary has subjected its inhabitants to legislation such as the ‘Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance’ which impose restrictions of development leading to losses in property value. At the same time, the wetlands have been subjected to land reclamation (both illegal and legal), canal dredging as well as various kinds of industrial and domestic pollution, regardless of its designation as a sanctuary. It is gradually degrading, transitioning from wet land to dry land.
The project questions traditional conservation approaches, according to which an eco-system can be protected to the extent it is made out of reach. Rather, the project speculates a scenario in which the wetland is healed through development and by its appropriation and management over time.
A development in a wetland and a wetland within a development. Biological water treatment processes inherent to wetlands are integrated with pumps, pipes and tanks and form the hydrology of a single unit. Watersheds are positioned at the intersection of terrestrial and aquatic. They restructure the landscape that surrounds and attribute its distinct ecological zones with program and practice.
Conflicting property rights at the Attidiya sanctuary
Identified ecological zones
Watershed hydrologic schematic