Re-Integrating Derelict Waterways -A Case of Kollam Canal, Kerala

Keywords: Revival, Canal, waterfront, waterways, public realm

Water and its management within ecosystems have always been the most crucial aspect of any settlement. Water flow ha been modified and diverted to create hydraulic systems for meeting the energy, commerce and food requirements of the society. These constructed waterways have also enabled commerce and connected different civilizations. However, post the industrial era most of these waterways have been in a neglected condition. With the enactment of the National Waterways Act, 2016 in India there has been an impetus to revive the waterways in India as a sustainable mode of transport for people and cargo. This will also mean that most of the derelict canals in Urban areas, which forms a part of the National waterways and required to be brought back to life.

However due to an engineered approach of waterways revival, other aspects like
increasing social connectedness and integrating the waterways to the public realm are overlooked. The thesis explores how the waterways could be integrated to the public realm to improve social connectedness and economic vitality by taking the case of Kollam Canal in Kerala.

The first part of this research explores how constructed waterways historically shaped the built environment, the public realm and the associations with the people. It also explores the socio political implications and the gaps in the contemporary planning practices in the city that led to the negligence of the canals. The second part of the study is done through a detailed site analysis of the existing spatial and social conditions to identify issues and potential of the site. The study concludes by identifying design solutions and guidelines to integrate the Kollam Canal into the existing fabric of the city.

Text & Image Credit: Devi Praseeda | Urban Design | KRVIA 2022.

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