Morphogenesis - The Uttorayon Township in Siliguri, West Bengal Print E-mail
Written by Morphogenesis   
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 09:36

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Morphogenesis-Uttorayon-01Uttorayon Township is a 400 acre development on a non productive Tea Estate in Siliguri, West Bengal. The guiding objective of the project was to create a model for low cost development in India which enhances community while respecting the environment.

Siliguri is in a unique position today; Trade links are flourishing and the city is benefitting significantly from its strategic location as the gateway to the northeast. Investments are being maintained at high levels with continuing opportunities, growing prosperity and secure incomes. Accompanying these changes is a desire for improvements in the built environment and in the general quality of houses, schools, hospitals and other socio-cultural facilities.

One of the major challenges of current critical thought on housing is that of generating a residential space, not only from the required technical and spatial reformulation of the ‘built’, but also from the investigation of new urban orders. The key concept that is explored for the planning and design of this development is the formulation of a new urban system addressing issues of settlement identity, dynamic and flexible infrastructure, landscape and open space distribution, and perceptual paradigms. The Uttorayon Township project strives to address these very issues and generate a development that may serve as a model for future such developments.

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Morphogenesis-Uttorayon-02One of the first decisions during the design process was to consider all homeowners as equal stakeholders irrespective of housing and plot size. This is contrary to many other commercial developments which enforce a regimented distinction between larger and smaller plot zones. The stated goal is primarily achieved by dividing the site into smaller neighbourhood clusters of 20 plots which vary in size but are all structured around a communal green space. The cluster organization is designed for multiple configurations that can respond to changing social demands and this as a system has successfully fostered a close immediate community. To further encourage social interaction, each cluster is also linked to a pedestrian and bicycle network which connect to important communal areas such as schools, shops, and the peripheral greens.
Morphogenesis-Uttorayon-03To keep development costs low, the main strategy was to respect the natural topography of the site and to use it for an integrated surface drainage system. By precisely calculating the correct slopes of roads and using existing natural streams, costs were saved in expensive underground piping networks. As a result more capital could be allocated to creating a secure and high quality infrastructure for each cluster. While these services are exceptional by Indian standards the total developing costs of the project added up to only 6$ per square meter.
Morphogenesis-Uttorayon-05The Township successfully uses simple technologies to tackle complex problems. The surface storm water drains are never more than 12.5 cm deep and the system eliminates crossover of services. Furthermore, a module sewage trunk flanks both sides of the neighbourhood cluster, which can be plugged into as development emerges. The resources available have been equitably distributed throughout the township to provide for uniform scales of development throughout the township. Innovative waste water and storm water management systems and treatment and disposal of all types of waste within the township help in minimizing the impact on the surrounding developments.
Morphogenesis-Uttorayon-06The Uttorayon Township is a prime example of how development can work with its local climate rather than against it. The economic drainage system described above serves as a natural ground water recharging network which mimics the original water flow patterns of the terrain and keeps storm water runoff to a minimum. Intensive studies were conducted on the streetscapes, setbacks and other built-form elements to ensure the predominantly northern wind flow can penetrate each cluster. Building codes ensure that each building is adequately spaced to maximize natural ventilation and therefore reduce the high humidity levels. Finally the annual movement of the sun was studied to optimally orient each building to control solar heat gain. Openings are placed predominantly on the southern facades which effectively block the vertical summer sun while letting in the lower winter sun.

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