CHENNAI METROPOLITAN AREA: TOWARDS A REGIONAL URBAN LANDSCAPE STRUCTURE
The construction of a sustainable and adaptive water system for Chennai requires a different approach to balance water, landscape and urban patterns at the regional scale.
Chennai is situated in a vast alluvial lowland plain, intersected by rivers running from the mountains in the west to the sea. During serious rainstorms, the urbanized area suffers not only from the large amounts of water dropping from the sky immediately on the city, but also from the run-off of swelling rivers, discharging extra rainwater from upstream through the urbanized area to the sea. Urban Chennai has become the central drainage pit of the whole region.
An effective solution for the retention and discharge of storm water in Chennai is only possible when the urban area no longer plays a role as the drainage pit of the region. This is possible by creating a regional green-blue framework with a main role for water courses and rivers, lakes and ponds, combined with green slopes and parklands. These will be developed as robust green-blue corridors that provide ecosystem services: fresh water, ecology, recreation, urban climate control, etc. Together with parks and natural reserves they form a continuous structure as a backbone for urban development and agriculture. Individual green-blue ponds are scattered throughout the region and form a complementary system for retaining water. The transportation structure will function as a second conditional tier for urban development.
The vision of a regional green-blue framework offers a comprehensive strategy to manage floods and increase water recharge and retention capacities in a multi-scalar manner. It addresses urban water management through strategies of reforestation, green-blue belts, restoration and creation of lakes and also devises strategies for densification, creation of urban centres and urban infrastructure. Together these strategies envision the New Chennai Metropolitan Area as a water rich, healthy and sustainable urban region.