Shortlisted Entries 2020

Canary in a Coalmine : The story of a landscape

Ketaki Mahamine
Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies | Mumbai

Landscapes of today are a result of a numerous layers of human intervention and engagement in the spatial history of time. The story of a landscape starts at the beginning of its life when it came into being. The landscape transforms and changes into various forms when it encounters human needs, which create stories of engagements generated with the landscape. The research is one such story of a coal mining landscape in Nagpur and how its birth, life and its near future is creating and affecting the various stories in its spatial history.

The coal mining industry is known worldwide for its highly risky and hazardous working environment with dystopic landscapes surrounding the workers. This thesis project looks at open pit coal mining landscapes. The research part documents the spatial history of the transformation of a coal mining landscape and the networks that it forms along its existence. In a developing nation of mass production, how does the production of coal affect the context? Whom does coal belong to? What happens to the land, people and ecosystems around the mine at the time of expansion of it? The aim is to study the positive and negative influences generated because of the landscape and question the future of it. The idea is to look at the landscape as a transgressive, yet progressive landscape and the associations it has with people and the surrounding area. At the same time, the research puts forth the question of what lies in the future story of this landscape when all the ores are used. Can an institute and program bring the dead landscape back to life while using the natural benefit of the pit?

The proposed institute will sit at the edge of the quarry and will observe, evaluate and develop the quarry. The institute will thus use elements of nature – soil and residual coal for study, coal for building, water for collection and try to find better interfaces to the human and nature relationship. The quarry pit, which is a natural pool after being abandoned, will thus be used for the collection of water, which will be provided to the nearby villages which currently use wells as their basic supply. The institute will find ways to revive old or establish newer networks on site, making the site an active land.