Planning with floods. The case of Pakistan Flood Rebuilding Grant Program

As mentioned in August, I am working on my first guest-editing series, which may be transformed into a call-for-submission type of project (I am hesitating regarding the form). The problem of the form aside, this will not be this month as expected due to a huge amount of works, my new websites including, but in October at the very least.

Note that this call-for-submissions will open to all (unsurprisingly I will review these papers. The selected papers will be published here). But I will go back to this project soon. I recommend to read the latest issue of Domus (issue 961), in particular The 900-Kilometre-Long City, which explores settlements along the Nile Valley developing a new language, and strategies for intervention in rural and urban areas such as the Nile Valley, for an overview of this series on planning near water.

But firstly, a post that will offer the occasion to have a first glance at the content of this project mentioned above. A post that may interest those which research focus on building along with local contexts too.

The Architecture for Humanity has shared on Facebook this Pakistan Flood Rebuilding Grant Program - The Heritage Foundation, a project conducted by the Heritage Foundation. It is located in Khairpur, Singh, in Pakistan, one of the largest cities in the province of Sindh in southeast Pakistan. Khairpur District has a population of 1,515,000 (according to the 1998 Census. It is certainly much more than this estimation) with a density of 95.2/square kilometers (247/square miles) on an area of 15,910 square kilometers (6,140 square miles). In 1998, 23.23% of this area was urban with an average annual growth rate of the population at 2.71%.
Women's Center. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

The city of Khairpur has a population of 127,856 (according to the 2006 Census). It is located along the Khairpur East Canal, 18 kilometers (11 miles) of the Indus River. The area is confronted with increasing flooding events. Mariyam Nizam relates the recent events that impacted this area:
Plan. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

Parts of the district, known as Kingri, had been affected by flood waters rising to a height of 6'0", that had washed away the mud houses and all the belongings of disadvantaged communities forced to live close to the water's edge. These areas locally known as 'Kaccha' that lay along the river bed, had not only been most affected by the floods but were also furthest off from the main urban areas.
Section. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

Contexts and conditions should be taken into consideration when planning in such areas — topography, environmental impacts, population, development, social issues, infrastructure,

The floods caused the death of 1,600 people and some 20 million citizens were displaced by this natural disaster. These devastating floods have had a serious impact on an already vulnerable population. It is estimated that, at one point, one fifth of the country's total land area are underwater. Much of the farming land, housing and infrastructures were completely destroyed, leaving millions of people living in precarious, sub-standard conditions. The population has since struggled with severe food shortages, lack of sanitation and access to clean, drinking water.
Wind Catcher Roof Plan. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

In this context, planning in complex areas requires more attentive considerations to generating positive outputs.

On floods:
MAP 004 | Floods | David Garcia Studio

A question then raises to ask if Architects and planners' current tools and methods are adapted to landscapes under environment pressures.
Village Darya Khan Shaikh. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

As Atelier Kempe Thill, Baukuh, GRAU, LOLA, and Ayman Hashem in their essay titled The 900-kilometre long city (See Domus 961, September 2012), about Nile Valley, a new vocabulary is needed for a better understanding of — and I add operation in — areas such as the Nile Valley avoiding the classical Western ideas about planning.
The Village of Darya Khan Shaikh. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

Same statement is the same when intervening in areas like Khairpur. As they pointed out, as "these areas do not fit into our current categories, new tools, methods and approach to planning are needed".
Mixing lime-sand mortar. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

This 190-square-meter residential project, namely, the reconstruction of 30 homes, in Khairpur is designed to be low carbon footprint and adapted at the very least to areas exposed to an array of complex issues. Local but sustainable materials are required: bamboo, mud, lime and stone. 
Tying Roof Structure. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

And GKV, a soil, Mariyam Nizam writes, being unable to support concrete structures. Nizam describes the technique of construction:
Prior to undertaking construction, a study was made of local materials and building practices. Upon excavation of the first unit it was clear that the foundations would also require an alteration. Firm soil could not be reached until excavations had been carried out till 5 feet or more. The usual methodology of constructing foundations up to 5 feet would result increase the cost exorbitantly, especially since stone was not available in close vicinity and would have to be carted from some distance. A study of brick availability was also carried out; however, in view of the cost of brick and use of energy in its production, preference was given to stone masonry in foundations. The project structural consultant provided an alternative methodology for construction of the foundations. Accordingly a replacement technique was adopted through which compacted pure sand would replace the soil thereby decreasing the wall masonry depth to only 2-3 feet below ground instead of the earlier 5-6 ft. In order to take advantage of the prevailing wind, a wind catcher was incorporated, the design of which was based on the studies carried out by Yasmeen Lari in the early 1980s, and drawings for which were available in her book 'Traditional Architecture of Thatta'. Another innovation that proved to be time-saving as well as increasing local economy was woven local reed matting. The matting was now made up as prefabricated panels produced in a nearby village. The matting panels were ordered to size and speeded up the construction activity enormously as they arrived as ready to be installed panels for roofs and walls. The weave of reed made it sturdy as well as long lasting. As we continue to build more units, the entire village is now engaged in this activity. Since direct purchases are being made, this has become a source of considerable income for the community.
This technique of construction might be adapted to the contexts and conditions of the area. But the most important here is to provide secure low-cost housing to the affected communities. In an era with increasing concerns with health and well-being for all, this program searches to combine architecture, health and well-being, and social outcomes in areas that suffer from health inequalities, difficult access to infrastructure, clean water, lack of sanitation and housing.
Demonstration to understand the structure of the Green Karavan Ghan. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

The latest edition of the Urban Age in Hong Kong that copes with Cities, Health and Well-being reminded us that the pressures of urban growth have contributed to the emergence of stark social and health inequalities in cities of the developed and developing world, and that health and well-being will be becoming the core objectives for liveable cities. 
Participants monitoring site layouts. Originally appeared on Open Architecture Network

In conclusion, as this project highlighted, the efforts to reengineering such areas confronted with environmental and social crises and a specific, adaptive and scalable approach to building are needed. 

Further information: Here.

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