KOCHI: The recent floods paved a path for the 'new normal' in the society, said Peter Rich, an architect working with a team of professionals in working out solutions to rebuild Aranmula post floods, at a panel discussion during TiECON Kerala 2018.
On the sidelines of the entrepreneurial convention, Express talked to the South African architect about his views on rebuilding using sustainable models.
Could you explain the work that will be done in Aranmula?
A team of young architects and the Indian Institute of Architects have been conducting research at the Pampa River at Aranmula and the surrounding areas. At the end of it, they will bring out short and long-term deliverables to the strategic disaster management agency. We will address the real problems the communities face to make Aranmula a better place. At the moment, we have given a list of what we expect the outcomes to be. After proper research, we will have a proper outcome that can be delivered to tourism and strategic disaster relief. For this, in January, I will be running a master class with five master architects from different developing countries.
It was reported that the existing infrastructure added to the catastrophe caused by the flood. What can we do about it now?
Ans: We know the cause of the flood was the mismanagement of dams and other things. We're not getting into that because we can't do anything about it anymore. We dealt with it. And now we're left to deal with the damages caused. It's not our job.
Now, we have the opportunity to build new infrastructure which is more sustainable. What do we need to keep in mind?
Ans: We need to realise that this is the 'new normal'. When building infrastructure, one needs to remember to respect the culture of the land and what makes it a better place.
What sustainable model can be followed?
We have some precedence. We have cultures like Bangladesh that get flooded every year. But we're not Bangladesh. The culture of the land is unique here. We need to deal with different income groups. We are also dealing with poor people living in the wetlands. They are in the direct line of fire. We are keeping this in mind during the research.
There is no holistic vision in infrastructure planning in India. If you had a chance, what would you change?
This is one of the problems with India. It is important to not copy what the world is becoming. It would be a pity if India becomes like the rest of the world. You are different to them. When you show you're part of the developed world, you are destroying cultures. You have a very diverse, multi-layered society. We need to learn from the traditional ways because a lot of those ways are fully sustainable. Like any other country, people should design the outcome of what their place needs to be. Don't just put in the hands of professionals from other countries.