Meet Gala and Stuti Bhatewara
The Environmental Flows course capacitates students to experience and intervene in the environment as interconnected networks of beings and things who participate in altering, interrupting, breaking, prolonging, hindering each other’s rhythms and flows. It investigates and explores design possibilities that negotiate these relationships in an ecologically sensitive terrain.
For the academic year 2023-24, the course explored the (re)imagination of a mangrove swamp in Mumbai as a park. Historically, mangrove swamps were considered as wastelands that ought to be drained, made habitable and productive for residential, commercial or industrial uses. Today, however, they are deemed as forests that could protect coastal edges from rising seas and act as a carbon sink. This imagination draws boundaries around mangrove swamps to protect them and envisions architectural interventions that allow individuals and groups to “see” and experience the pleasure of “unaltered” nature.
One such proposal in the making is the Dahisar Mangrove Park. The idea of unaltered nature here is paradoxical because mangroves grew only during the last 15-20 years over what were formerly salt-pan depots. In this landscape, one witnesses a palimpsest of physical infrastructure that regulated the flows of saline waters through bund walls and sluice gates, on the one hand, and claims of Warli and Agri communities, on the other hand. One also witnesses a new landscape of cooperative housing societies, bastis and transportation infrastructures on its edges whose inhabitants have diverse relationships with the mangrove swamp. Student projects explored the architectural (re)imagination of a mangrove park in such ecologically sensitive terrain by assembling together individual provocations on environmental flows. The provocations for reimagining a mangrove park included an architecture for, for instance, wind catchers for pollinating endangered Rhizophora Apiculata; hearing insect sounds; cascading public space; worker’s resting spaces; cultivating crabs … etc.
A complete archive of the works from this course can be found here.