Water bodies are physically and spiritually an integral part of several historic cities of India. The presence of water bodies within the cities, not only added a symbolic value but also addressed the water needs of the city. The water as an urban system in context of supply and waste water are beyond the engineering domain and are important from sociological-ecological system point of view, because they form a very intricate relationship with the community and the city. However these cities are constantly transforming themselves through newer means of planning mechanisms with newer land use and newer relationships with the ecological system that are often conflicting with each other in nature. Within this framework, the physical and spiritual essence of water continually degrades over a time period. The once privileged position of water bodies in such historic cities are subjected to land formation by land fill or are ignored as residual components, amounting to systematic encroachment of edges and deteriorating of primordial relationship of water, community and the city.
The city of Jodhpur, Bhopal and Jabalpur are few examples out of many second and third tier cities across India, where historic relationships are compromised and subjected to dismantling of an important urban component, which have capabilities to adopt newer challenges through urban water resilience strategies. The effectiveness of a water based resilient infrastructure or its responsive urban fabric and its architecture depends upon its ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from a potentially disruptive state and even ultimately shows the ability to return to its original state only by understanding the historic water system of such cities.
The key objectives while studying and documenting such cities must firstly address the issues that are related to the understanding of the water stresses/conditions or water based stresses that may impact the city water-basin or its urban fabric and its architecture, secondly the assessment of the resilience of the city water basin and its geographical & intervened edge conditions and finally the capability to generate and appraise interventions that yield greater resilience for the city water basin/ conditions and its geographical and intervened edge conditions.
These challenges are certainly not simple to the water related historic cities, and there are no obvious strategies towards urban solutions. But the most important question is that the issues related to water and historic cities must be considered and debated as an academic reflection with respect to the current mode of urban transformation and see to it that resilience must become a paradigmatic concept, beyond a passing trajectory.
Photo Credit: Manoj Parmar | Faculty: KRVIA | Jabalpur
Photo Credit: Sanaeya Vandrewala | Faculty: KRVIA | Bhopal
Photo Credit: George Jacob | Faculty: KRVIA | Jodhpur
Three cities are part of KRVIA + Breucom project & Masters Studio II for Urban Design & Urban Conservation