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Madurai cover final
Read Water Urbanism: Madurai, India online here.
Water Urbanism: Madurai

Urban Design Studio III, Spring 2016

Kate Orff (Coordinator) Ziad Jamaleddine, Petra Kempf, Laura Kurgan, Guilherme Lassance, Geeta Mehta

Madurai is a temple city of in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India and has been a major cultural center for over 2000 years, making it one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. It is home to many historic monuments including, most famously, the Meenakshi Amman Temple which is visited by about 20,000 people every day. Today, Madurai is an important industrial hub with automobile, rubber and chemical manufacturing as well as information technology businesses. The city is also an important regional government and educational center. Madurai’s population is rapidly increasing, causing considerable stress and transformation. As a rapidly growing city with aging services and infrastructure, the periphery of Madurai has become home to informal settlements as well as a sprawl of commercial developments and high-end gated communities. Farmland along the Madurai- Dindigul corridor is urbanizing in a haphazard manner and north of the sacred Vaigai River, new development is mushrooming. Worse, the River and series of cascading water tanks has become contaminated by an inadequate sewage system.

The non-perennial Vaigai river and its elegant system of water holding tanks and channels that supported the urban and agricultural needs in this otherwise arid region for centuries is now damaged due to neglect, sand mining, encroachments and real estate pressures. Most of the water that flows to it from the Pariyar Dam in Kerala is stopped at the Vaigai Dam to serve the urban and agricultural needs of Madurai and its environs. The river is now dry much of the year and has become a dumping ground for urban waste. Along with many shrines in the riverbed where festivals and religious activities regularly occur, the dry riverbed is also used for washing and drying clothes, cattle grazing, marginal fishing and cricket. Reclaiming – or reinventing this imperiled water system is critical from a public health, urbanistic and social perspective.

The four projects in this book include a range of strategies and design practices that celebrate interdependence of social and physical systems design and and that envision a holistic urban-ecological future for Madurai.

Marshall Allen, Adrinee Bodakian, Amanda Chan, Cameron Cortez, Karan Daisaria, Nicolas Del Valle, Sebastian Delpino, Anubha Joshi, Vinh Le, Chenxing Li Mahima Pandya, Aminata Seck, Despo Thoma, Zhou Wu, and Zhuoran Zhao.