Below Zero in Kuttanad

This project, by Rahul Sukumaran, was nominated for Archiprix 2017
Instructor: Deepa Maheshwari
24 February 2017

Any intervention made in a wetland ecosystem without considering the hydrological regime of the region is bound to fail or create a negative impact. Kuttanad, the only place in India where paddy farming is done below sea level, where life is so intrinsically linked with its key resources – land and water, is a perfect example of this.

Kuttanad, the ‘granary’ of Kerala, is where a considerable portion of India’s rice production would come from. According to recent surveys, this ‘rice bowl’ is showing signs of disappearance.

The intent of this design thesis is to study the evolution of the unique ecosystem of this region. It focuses on analyzing the pressures and developments over the years and the resulting transformations and deterioration in socio-cultural, economic and health standards of the complex ecosystems in the region, which in turn has impacted the culture and life style of its people. The design intervention, apart from proposing strategies for eco-restoration, brings to light the agrarian distress this region has suffered, to help make better choices and change course wherever necessary to revitalize Kuttanad’s biodiversity and ecosystem.