Sema Kau Landfill and Urban Design – Discussion 2

And so it seemed to Mr. Vivek that we were wandering far too much in the murky territory of romanticism and needed a bolt of rationality to remain balanced.

It was generally agreed that the Indian architects today are stuck in a rut, with regards to technological innovation, while the world around able to give form to their romantic fantasies strong technical support with advancements in technology. It was, hence, fascinating to have a glimpse into the design process of an international firm like Jurong International.

The Sema Kau Landfill, which was built with the ash produced by Singapore’s incineration plants was to be converted to an eco-park. The very thought that  a landfill created of waste is a now to be an object of beauty  makes one filled with optimism about the future ( and makes one suggest fantastical ideas such a hill-station out of ash , in near future!! )

The design process was evolved to be a continuous journey of a myriad of experiences.  The various zones within the island were identified and given textures inspired from the Singapore’s endemic flora and Fauna.  Marshlands, water bodies, sandy areas and grasslands were created ….each holding its own definite identity, with built forms, pathways and open spaces designed to reflect its basic character. Bio- mimicry seemed a prevalent theme .The visitor is hence offered several experiences as he moves from the boat jetty to the various parts of the landfill.

The entire design is supported by a wealth of thorough research and the design offers exact numerical data with regards to the energy it might consume and the channels of waste disposal right down to the financial profitability of the project.  This is was truly a new experience for me, the smug frog in the well , and made me increasingly aware of the need for  a wider horizon.

Perhaps it’s well for all of us to gain the Socratic spirit and believe that “the wisest is she who knows she does not know”

The discussion then turned to the irony of that fact that, in a country not far from our, such care is being provided to development of a landfill that might cater to around 2000 people while, here, a city of two million is allowed to develop in an arbitrary manner with no planning. What is a solution to this…except a general awakening of the public and the authorities??

As for me , a product of the system of architectural education that did not teach me how to put bricks together , or how to apply plaster…..but condemned me to wander listlessly in the romantic territory wondering if form follows function or if more is less or less is more..

The strong grounding and the sheer rationality and good sense of our discussion was a welcome break.

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