Hyderabad Urban Lab and architecture students came together to transform this gully on a hillock

Students of Aurora's Design Institute in Hyderabad came up with a practical idea and Hyderabad Urban Labs, along with Wipro Foundation, helped them turn it into a reality. Here's how the story goes
They did it | (Pic: Team Jalam)
They did it | (Pic: Team Jalam)

After eight long years, an old man and his ailing limbs could comfortably walk downhill for the first time. And when he did make it down, the enchanting smile he sported was infectious. Then there was a man whose marriage seemed difficult because his humble abode was inaccessible, but even his nuptials have been finalised. What changed for these two and the various other residents who live in the houses that dot a small hillock community called Hill Top Colony Welfare Association in Malkajgiri, Secunderabad? The answer is a series of interventions ideated by architecture students of Aurora's Design Institute, one of the many premier institutions of the Aurora Group of Institutions, that were approved and facilitated by the multidisciplinary urban research centre Hyderabad Urban Lab (HUL) and Wipro Foundation. "We need to create a patchwork of innovations after respecting the views of the community instead of solving problems 'creatively' without even knowing what ails the people," says the Executive Director of HUL, Anant Maringanti. This is why the latter called for students to submit ideas for their water project in January 2021. Team Jalam, the six-member student team from Aurora, came forward and the idea they proposed was selected for implementation. And after months and months of work, the project is almost ready for execution.

The before 

So what was this bright idea or series of ideas proposed by Team Jalam that made a huge difference to one of the gullies (small roads) of the Hill Top Colony, so much so that those living in other gullies requested the same? Before getting to this, Punna Nithish, third-year BArch student of Aurora's Design Institute, while informing us about why they decided to work with this community, says, "One of our teammates, Geaupally Manish Anand, grew up in the surrounding area. So we wanted to do something close to that. We started our site visits in January 2021, spoke to the community members and came up with solutions."

Punna Nithish, Geaupally Manish Anand, Yedla Surender, Bhati Divyansh, Alankritha Khoshekay and Srija Diddi are the team members who put their all into the project

A pipe that carries drinking water from the top of the hill to the bottom seemed to have been perpetually leaking. This coupled with the fact that the kachcha road made for a treacherous downhill walk made things worse. An absence of a fully functional sewage and supply network along with the unmindful dumping of garbage permeated an unsanitary environment. Now imagine all of these problems exacerbated due to the relentless rain greeting the city on a daily basis. What the students were proposing was simple. A stepped walkway with a central U-shaped water pipe channel along with surface run-off gutters so that if there is further leakage, the water is routed to this channel which leads to community storage tanks. "We also constructed about eight granite aarugus (small seating areas) on either side of the steps, which serves as a platform for people to sit and chat with passersby or neighbours," says the 21-year-old who shifted from Devarakonda to Hyderabad with his family just six months ago. It took three tractors to clear all the garbage accumulated but eventually, it was done and the community was encouraged to choose the plants they would like to see around themselves. It was professor PN Praveen who helped the team every step of the way. 

The after

While HUL was there with the students every step of the way, over Rs 1.75 lakh was provided by Wipro Foundation to work on this water-related initiative. "After multiple site visits, we were able to accomplish this. As architecture students, this has been a great experience for us," says Nithish and signs off.  

They hope to make a small ramp-like structure that kids can use to push along bicycles

Successful urban redesign projects
- The Goods Line in Sydney, Australia: An abandoned railway turned into an elevated park with several social infrastructures
-  Superkilen in Copenhagen, Denmark: Promotes unity by displaying several objects and projects from around the world
- Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain: Made mainly with timber, this waffle-like structure was made after an old plaza was redeveloped
- Lake Paprocany in Tychy, Poland: Wood decked walkaways for a part of a large recreational redevelopment on the shores of this lake

The team

For more on them check out hydlab.in      

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