Ahmedabad, India is a city facing immense challenges due to the impact of an increase in population that is virtually unparalleled globally. By 2030, the U.N estimate that the population will have increased from 7 to 11 million people and the city must find strategies to provide new housing and infrastructure.
The current solution to meet the housings demands of these migrants generally falls into two categories: either low density villas in the cities ever expanding suburbs or informal settlements and slums. Satellite images reveal that the city spread over 464 sq km, between 2009 and 2016, built-up area increased from 33% to 53%, while areas with vegetation decreased from 33% to 27% resulting in a vast increase in the impervious surface in around the city.
Ahmedabad lies within the Gujarat region and is borne out of it’s position along the Sabarmati River. The river is formed by water run off from the Aravalli mountains which creates the Sabarmati Basin. The area is generally hot, semi arid and dry but has a monsoon season. In 2017 the monsoon was particularly intense resulting in the death of 224 people and displacing millions.
With global warming set to increase weather severity and Ahmedabad’s current housing solution, the city is on a worrying trajectory of more severe flooding and its associated tragedies.
The project addresses these urban and environmental challenges in 3 key moves: Firstly, stack the accommodation vertically to reduce the impervious surface area; Secondly, create new transport infrastructure that is not effected by flooding by embedding connected cable stations in each tower.; Thirdly, elevate the building to allow for the planting of a suburban forest to combat the effects of the increases in temperature and flooding caused by global warming.
Splayed Stone Tower: Propagating Biophilia Through Nooks and Crannies
The tower is comprised of a stone core which encompasses the cable car station, an elevated community space and residential units above. This core is wrapped in a solar screen that encircles the building from East to West and exposed on the North elevation to filter the harshness of the Gujarat sun, whilst allowing gentle indirect light into the spaces.
The core is formed of a splayed, layered structure that cools the building through utilising passive ventilation rising from the forest at the bottom to the community garden, then finally up to the residential accommodation above.
The core is inspired by Indian stepwells and the horizontal strata of traditional Gujarat architecture. It’s formal and aesthetic qualities are inspirational not only for their physical properties but more importantly their potential to host vegetation and moss. Over time the formal vegetation of the community garden is joined by moss and small unintentional plants and wildlife as the textured, splayed stone allows for seeds to infiltrate their nooks and crannies and takeover the structure. The result is a natural oasis offering refuge from the turbulent urban and environmental context in which the project is located.