Re-establishing the connect with Yamuna

The exhibition presents a strategic plan to understand Yamuna as a variable, living body of water

Re-establishing the connect with Yamuna

The pollution level in river Yamuna has been a major issue of concern for decades.

Several research works have been done and whopping amounts of money sanctioned to clean the river. Unfortunately, it was good money and effort down the drain...quite literally!

But since last January, a group of students and faculty at the University Of Virginia School Of Architecture have been working on a three-year academic project to come up with urban design speculations that have the potential for re-establishing vital connections between New Delhi and the Yamuna.

With over 2,000 man-hours of research effort already invested and scores of students and faculty visiting Delhi during their semesters, they are collectively trying to create a sort of ‘creative commons’ or Wikipedia of several out-of-the-box, yet pragmatic, perspectives on restoring Yamuna to its past glory.

These students are hosting this massive research at a two-week exhibition ‘Re-Centering Delhi’ at the Embassy of Switzerland.

The research has been guided by Pankaj Vir Gupta, visiting professor at the University of Virginia and Inaki Alday, the chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Virginia.

The exhibition presents a catalogue of research in the form of drawings and maps, as well as a series of urban design speculations, re-imaging the relationship between the city and the Yamuna.

The research analyses the river’s dynamics and floods, as well as agriculture and other occupations of the flood plain. Within the complexity of the city, the critical shortage
of housing, and the malfunctioning system of water treatment and distribution, are
the most pressing issues demanding resolution.

Only 50 per cent of waste water produced in the city is cleaned in a water treatment plant. The other half is fed into open drains that empty into Yamuna. It is estimated that 85 per cent of the pollution in the river comes from residential wastewater, while 15 per cent of the pollution is the result of the untreated industrial waste.

It not just highlights the problem but also presents a basic strategic plan like providing access to the river for the neighbourhoods and sites situated along the river’s edge, understanding the river as a variable, living body of water that requires space for natural fluctuations without creating catastrophes and integrating historic monuments, situated on the banks of the Yamuna as a primary armature for urban development.

The Red Fort, Purana Qila, the Zoological Park, Sunder Nursery and Humayun’s Tomb have the potential to be transformed from isolated precincts into landmarks within a highly connected urban fabric once again oriented towards the Yamuna river.

The exhibition is on view till November 29 at the Embassy of Switzerland from 10 am to 6 pm.

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