Sustainable Design, Case Study – SmartCity Kochi | India

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SmartCity Kochi is a project of TECOM investments (SmartCity Dubai) in association with the State Government of Kerala in India. The project marks the next step in the evolution of an international brand of IT Campus projects focused on creating high-quality workplaces for international knowledge industries.

In Kochi, Smart City is located on a one square kilometer riverfront site with some extreme topography and some extreme environmental challenges. By definition, sustainable design is a central theme in the planning and design of the site, in keeping with the brand name “SmartCity”, and its international profile and appeal. Robert Marshall, Global Director of Planning & Landscape for B+H Architects, has been leading the design and planning of the SmartCity Kochi project and will discuss some of the challenges, issues and opportunities associated with the design of a sustainable high-tech campus in southwest India

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5 thoughts on “Sustainable Design, Case Study – SmartCity Kochi | India

  1. Some professionals seem to try hard to bring the environment in the city as much as the business conditions and the local context allow. However, there is lots more to learn from the academics when it comes to water hydraulics and
    I didn’t know in India the environmental laws can be as stricked to the extent to prevent developers from cutting a tree unless it is transplanted. In the same time, I It is amazing that the commitment to this law is now across the nation and that the government agencies are the ones who violate it.

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  2. I was somewhat let down by this talk from Robert Marshall of B+H. I agreed with his general point of view and context; belief in the benefits of bio-mimicry in architecture and ecosystem services in regards to the landscape. His example projects, in my view however, only modestly showcased these values without addressing overlying issues. For example, while the Kochi Smart City does have storm water swales its diagrammatic plan and urban design is flawed from the start. Due to zoning the commercial is completely isolated from the residential with a single narrow chokepoint to navigate in between: a recipe for unavoidable traffic and temporal desertion of space. I am aware this is due to free trade zoning but I feel truly sustainable and smart design would still somehow address this.
    In regards to the waters edge, I felt that despite Marshall first promoting this design as a river-centric concept he not only had no knowledge of local river customs but the design itself also ultimately hindered river access. I think smart growth is also not cutting down green field rainforest. I just can’t get behind this project as an example of sustainable design.

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  3. The Kochi SmartCity was a discussion I was originally excited about hearing. I am presently in an ecological design studio as well as a river and stream restoration course. I thought this presentation would detail how this tech campus would severely integrate the adjacent river provide a connections between it and the people. While the design seems to incorporate some amazing features, bioswales, rainwater harvesting, constructed wetlands, butterfly park etc; it also seems to be extremely isolated. The entire project, while creating jobs on this riverfront property, appears as an exclusive hot spot. Although, it will bring much business to the area and has recreational endeavors the consideration to gate the area up to the river sounds unsuitable. Access is a major concern after listening to the discussion. It is unfortunate that such an innovative design intervention has overlooked the potential in connecting people and the river and has restricted and lessened the otherwise endless benefits.

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  4. Good point Patrick, we in the department have a high level combined with deep understanding of rivers and that is why you see things with a high quality lens. Yes Shantel, professionals have lots to learn about connecting people with rivers.

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  5. This was a phenomenal lecture. The speaker was unbelievably enthusiastic about his work in India and they have made some great strides in sustainable development in the country. The work that the Band H firm has done in Kochi has been remarkable and has helped them in many areas especially with water consumption.
    I thought it was incredibly interesting the way they implemented integrated open space systems and biomimicry to create a much greener city than has been seen before. They have used these systems to help with energy conservation and create an ecologically friendly city. The way he discussed improving their infrastructure to better use waste and floodwaters. He used landscape corridors, detention ponds, and rainwater harvesting to help control the heavy amounts of flood water in the area. These systems have helped solve a lot of the area’s issues with the flood plains and steep slopes surrounding it.
    There were certain elements that I did disagree with however. One thing in particular was his use of walls in the lake to prevent people from the poorer residential areas from reaching the city. I felt like it was almost promoting a form of segregation between classes in the country. I know they are trying to establish this as a business and wealth center in the area, but excluding people in the lower classes from it seems draconian in a way. Despite this though I felt he has done some incredible work in promoting sustainable development in these poorer countries.
    Overall I thought his work has been very inspiring in terms of how cities should be developed for the future. As our countries environmental issues continue to expound these types of cities become increasingly important.

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