Designing for Vernacular Landscape Through Ecosystem-Approach: A Case of Floating Settlements at Dal Lake, Kashmir
Indian vernacular and traditional knowledge systems, born out of long years of practice, have harmonized themselves with the local ecology. An amalgamation of various cultural, social, ecological and historical layers are distinctly visible at Dal Lake, Jammu and Kashmir. Though primarily known for tourism activities, Dal Lake houses about a thousand families, living on silted islands, whose socio-economic sustenance is dependent on water. The lake influences the everyday lives and activities of people such as cultivation, going to school, crafts, and trade. Local cultural practices of this region possess a historical continuity and have acquired ecological wisdom to adapt to their surroundings. Over time, it is not only the community that has come to depend on the resource, but small ecosystems have been generated as a response that befits Dal Lake. The threat of total eutrophication and high levels of pollution in the lake has resulted in a symptomatic response of rehabilitating this floating community away from its cultural resource. Although it is necessary to curb pollution levels, this isolation of human and natural systems might have adverse consequences. This paper aims to highlight the understanding of the environment in the philosophy of Kashmiri vernacular. Through these learnings, the authors propose three design strategies to sustainably inhabit Dal Lake and integrate the lake in lives of Dal dwellers, the people of Srinagar as well as the floating populations of tourists. The design attempts a vernacular landscape of sustenance and resilience for one of the few floating villages in India.
KeywordsEcosystem Vernacular Dal Lake Floating village
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