Alappuzha – The Venice or the Leiden of the East?

A Blueprint for Conservation

Binumol Tom, Conservation Architect & Faculty, Department of Architecture, College of Engineering Trivandrum

Dr. Binumol Tom Conservation Architect

Story of a verdant heart centre with light radiating all around!

Aspirations …..
Urban fabric interwoven between two artificially laid

What is the quintessence of Alappuzha?

City without old buildings is like a man without memory

What is right and wrong about Shakespeare’s The Click to edit Master text styles Merchant of Venice?
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Plan of Alappuzha

Plan of Venice Venice – composed of 120 islands, separated by 200 canals and connected by 450 bridges. May be the hustle and bustle of Alappuzha due to intense commercial and trading activity resonated with that of Venice during those days. Hence Alappuzha was called “Venice of

The tale of two cities
Alappuzha Leiden
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Alappuzha – essentially a DIKE TOWN - Rivers / Dutch Town backwaters were diked
Inland waterways taken from the sea or river into the interiors Straight alignment of built fabric along the dikes Dykes and canals provided a valuable central space and a setting for public
Alappuzha canal stretch Click to edit Master text styles Second level ● Third level ● Fourth level ● Fifth level

Leiden canal stretch

Dutch Town Planning Principles of Waterway becomes the life Alappuzha line of the town
Design criteria – Dutch lineal urban pattern of canal, road and building blocks Skillful location of public buildings – to save from monotonous building facades

Canal stretch in Leiden

Plan of canal stretch in Alappuzha

Dutch Town Planning Click to edit Master text styles Principles of Second level Alappuzha Third level
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Fourth level ● Fifth level Church in Alappuzha

Larger buildings at prominent places – symbol of secular authority Landmarks – Church Towers

Leide n

Dutch Town Planning Principles of Alappuzha Alignment of building blocks parallel to the canal + placement of a landmark to terminate the vista Important crossings accentuated by citing a religious building along the

Dutch Town Planning Principles of BUILT-UP Alappuzha STREET and BUILT-UP WATERWAY were in direct spatial contrast a sense of spaciousness

Schematic section through Alappuzha canal stretch

Leiden – a paradise of interwoven canals and built fabric

Section thru canal scape Alappuzha

Streetscape Alappuzha

PRIMARY STREET SECONDARY STREET TERTIARY STREET CONNECTORS Streetscape - Leiden

Dutch Town Planning Principles of Alappuzha

Limiting the width of water way by techniques in stone and timber

Dutch Town Planning Principles of Alappuzha

Alappuzha – the light house (photo taken about 1900 by the Government photographer Zacharias D'Cruz)

Sea fronts – trade related activities, merchant offices, warehouses, ship builders repair yards and weighing halls

Dutch Town Planning Principles of Alappuzha
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Alappuzh a

Leiden

Higher degree of homogeneity in building style and street architecture

Dutch Town Planning Principles of Alappuzha Damming
Construction of alternative channels were required for the river water to reach the sea, the original down river (stream) water section served as an

Damming at Amsterdam

Damming at Alleppey

Alappuzha – Venice or Leiden? For which town the styles tolls? bell Click to edit Master text
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If any urban activity can be said to have reached that ideal, it was the making of Dutch Towns. Alappuzha follows the Dutch Town Planning

Settlement Morphology of PORT AREA GODOWN INDUSTRIAL CLUSTER Alappuzha TownCLUSTER
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AGRAHARAM CLUSTER

Architect ural Typologi RESIDENTI AL es
Gujrati Cluster – Independe nt houses with work places, Haveli

Why trouble with this historic Towns with little/ no architectural heritage have to invent town? their past.
For people in Alappuzha past is a living presence…..

Alappuzha – the light house (photo taken about 1900 by the Government photographer Zacharias D'Cruz)

Alappuzha suffers! Not because of the violence of bad actions, but due the silence of good actions…. Vandalism/ devastation by manmade factors –
ecological death of the canals Old buildings – timber – deterioration/ fire We have learned to swallow concrete happily…. Increased prosperity Population pressures Today, random demands imposed

What are the threats to this historic canal town? Public services Private speculation We expect a high standard of living ABOVE ALL Motor vehicle….

When wealth is lost nothing is lost, but when health is lost, something is lost…
Is our town friendly for the elderly? Do we have a health plan for us as well as for the buildings? Is the air that we breathe in our town healthy? What is the quality of

When character is lost everything is lost…..

SAY

“NO”

TO

Should Jack the clever outsmart John the hones?
Should structurally strong and aesthetically pleasing old buildings give way for new ugly concrete monsters? Should heritage give way for modern developments? Conservation – ‘Conservative’ Gentrification – social justice Intangible heritage – by conserving the tangible heritage, we conserve the cultural paradigm

Should we call the pied piper to fix things again??
Integrated Conservation Programme in development policy through preparing a HDP for Alappuzha Leadership of Administrators – bringing together the efforts of conservation architects, Town planners historians, urban planners, ethnographers, archaeologists, geologists, sociologists, engineers, geographers, transportation engineers etc with public consenses.

How to bell the cat?
Historic stock – present condition & future capabilities Growth forces in the economy of the city – analysed Controlled developments to prevent large intrusive & out of scale modern buildings in heritage precincts Traffic issues – solved (ring roads) Prevention of unwanted traffic flow of heavy

How to bell the cat?
Establishing the mechanisms for operating area conservation programme within the urban development and sustainable tourism policy for Alappuzha
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Advisory body Training planners, architects and urban administrators Listing, Grading of historic structures Designation of heritage areas, linkages Design guidelines and controls

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How to bell the cat?
Financial and other incentives Direct grant to the building owner Grants for preservation Tax relief Taxing the beneficiaries – part of VAT collected can be used for conservation activities Aid in kind – labour and materials for the maintenance of listed buildings by

is not husbanding of resources, but a key tool for controlled urban development • Development and Sustainable Tourism policy for Alappuzha with an addition of the ‘element of

Development & Heritage Conservation Heritage Conservation WOMAN MAN &

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TEN COMMANDMENTS ON CONSERVATION OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGEHERITAGE OF AN ASSET AND NOT A OF ALAPPUZHA IS ALAPPUZHA
BURDEN IT IS A REPOSITORY OF KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS OF INTEGRATION OF WATER AND LAND IT IS ABOUT THE FUTURE AND NOT ABOUT THE PAST IT’S CONSERVATION IS NOT ABOUT ‘MONUMENTS’ BUT ABOUT THE EVERYDAY LIFE OF CITIZENS OF ALAPPUZHA IT IS NOT ANTI-DEVELOPMENT BUT AN ALTERNATE MODEL OF DEVELOPMENT IT SHOULD BE INNOVATIVE IN PRACTICE ADAPTIVE REUSE OF UNUSED HISTORIC BUILDINGS TO GIVE NEW MEANINGS TO HERITAGE (UNUSED GODOWNS, WAREHOUSES ETC.) CONSERVATION TO BE DEMYSTIFIED AND INTEGRATED

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“Men need space, light and air just as he needs bread or a place to sleep” (Le Corbusier)

Can man live by space, light and air alone?
Maybe he needs a dash of love, a touch of warmth and a sea of friendship, which only historic ambience can provide……..

Conserve the dying heritage of Alappuzha Town

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Reference s
Burke L Gerald; The making of Dutch Towns; 1956; Cleaver Hume Press London Mann Roy; Rivers in the city; 1973; Pitman Press Bath Somerset Niermeyer, J.F; Delft en Delfland, Leiden; 1944 Adams. T; Culture of Town and City Planning; 1936

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