Trichy Commons Network
Trichy, India
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Location:
Trichy, India
Category:
meeting place
Phase:
design development
Updated:
4 August 2021
The Citizens For Uyyakondan (CFU) emerged as a citizen-organized platform that brings together common people & organizations, including the city corporation on restoring and reviving the Uyyakondan canal that runs through the city. 


The project, proposed on a piece of the municipal land, tests a setup that includes collective waste management, community spaces for co-learning & co-production, and appropriating unused spaces as spaces for leisure.
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Introduction
The Uyyakondan is an irrigation canal that was built almost 1000 years ago. It flows through the heart of the city, Trichy. Like most urban water bodies in India, the canal has been affected by unscrupulous dumping of sewage water and solid waste over the years. In this context, a group of citizens came together under the banner ‘Citizens For Uyyakondan’ (CFU) to raise awareness and actively engage in transforming the canal. Over four years since their inception, they have initiated several community awareness programs, canal-bank cleaning drives, along with lobbying the city corporation for better projects along the canal. 

The Uyyakondan canal runs through some of the dense and poor neighborhoods in the city. These neighborhoods often lack quality outdoor leisure spaces, proper waste management facilities, or community infrastructure. The current project, ‘Trichy Commons Network’ is being proposed as a pilot project. It includes a collective waste management facility, community spaces for co-learning & co-production, and appropriating unused spaces as spaces for leisure. The goal is to test the setup as a pilot that could be repeated in other spots in the denser neighborhoods along the canal. The project aims to cultivate and encourage civic engagement, social and economic progress, and the culture of sharing while tackling the issues that affect the canal - solid waste and sewage dumping and the apathy of the citizens towards the canal.
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Impact
The Duraisamipuram neighborhood which lies along the canal is densely packed & lacks quality outdoor spaces or civic facilities. The canal has become something to be avoided due to sewage water & household solid wastes dumped into it. A lack of a proper waste management system, awareness, and apathy towards the canal amongst the residents add to the problem. Covid19 and the lockdowns that followed showed the importance of quality outdoor spaces in dense urban communities. Furthermore, school closures during lockdowns have left behind many children who lack remote learning facilities. 

The project initially started as a ‘Miyawaki’ forest plantation drive to protect the canal bank from misuse. The scope was extended as part of the Charles Correa Foundation's call for neighborhood initiatives to include a community center with waste management & other facilities. Through the local waste management center, the project aims to increase awareness, implement household-level waste segregation, & provide opportunities for recycling & reuse. The community center provides space for gathering which can be used as a local study center. A shared library of school textbooks & others along with a dedicated WiFi for students is proposed to support them through remote learning. A small workshop with shared tools could function as a local Fablab or a skills development center. 

The project is supposed to be developed in incremental stages not only for practical reasons but also to develop trust, collective ownership within the community, and to learn and adapt through the process.
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Core team
The project is initiated & coordinated by the Citizens For Uyyakondan (CFU). CFU emerged as a citizen-organized platform that brought together common people & organizations in raising awareness, restoring, & reviving the Uyyakondan canal that runs through the city. They have organized awareness campaigns on waste management, quality public space along the city’s water bodies, & weekly canal-bank cleaning drives since their inception. CFU is represented by Mr. Vijaykumar Sengottuvelan & Mr. Kapilan Chandranesan. Vijaykumar, a founder member of CFU, is an architect & is also the director of the C.A.R.E. School of Architecture. He represents & coordinates the project with the various stakeholders & the city corporation. Kapilan is an architect based in Trichy and Rotterdam who started collaborating with the organisation through this project.


Shine Treechy is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) operating in Trichy to promote tree plantation & urban afforestation programs. They were instrumental in the Miyawaki forest plantation along the canal bank and other greening strategies. Mr. Manoj Dharmar, a founder member of the organization, coordinates with the rest of the team


The Duraisamipuram neighborhood has several religious institutions including the St.Anthony’s church. The priest of St.Anthony’s church, Fr. Paneer Selvam has been instrumental in mediating between the community & the core team. He has also encouraged the community youth to volunteer in the project along with participating & pledging to install a Rain Water Harvesting system within the church premises.
Image gallery
City level initiatives along the canal

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Neighbourhood level interventions

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Site along canal edge for Miyawaki forest plantation

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Site for the community centre

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Community center as a catalyst to create shared ownership and positive relationships within the community and towards the canal

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Technical drawings
Plan with circular flow of waste and reusable resources

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Neighbourhood level interventions

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Construction from recycle materials and materials that could be dismantled and reused

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Project roadmap

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Phase 1

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Phase 2

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Phase 3

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Help bring our project to life!

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Help bring our project to life!
Where are we now
At the moment, we have cleared the stretch of the canal bank and completed the plantation of saplings that would become the ‘Miyawaki’ forests along with the PWD. The site where the community center is planned to set up has been cleared of debris that was there and surveyed. A questionnaire to understand community needs and waste management practices has been prepared to be circulated within the community. Furthermore, the core team has been engaging with the city municipality to engage them as well. 

The core team, consisting of architects and people from other walks of life is ideally balanced in terms of expertise. Funding has been mainly through donations that the organizations received.
An indication of our team’s capacity:
30% funding already raised
80% expertise already found
Finance: € 15,000
The project is proposed to develop in incremental stages not only for practical and financial reasons but also to develop trust & collective ownership within the community, as well as provide opportunities to learn from each other and adapt, between the community & the core team. 
Therefore, the main focus for the team is firstly to set up enough funds & resources to actualize the first 2 phases of the project. While the city municipality has come forward to set up the waste management center (phase 2), the rest falls within the scope of the core team to secure funding & resources.
  • Site preparation leveling, cleaning, landscaping
  • 1,500
  • Multipurpose play court with protective fencing
  • 10,000
  • Children's play area play objects
  • 2,000
  • Solar powered street lamps for the site
  • 1,500
    Skills: Planning & Management
    The core of the project deals with providing a community-based waste management system to engage the community and raise awareness to protect the canal and other natural resources from misuse. Also, the project aims to put in place circular flows through the waste management center to encourage reuse of local waste. We are looking for input on best practices through prior expertise on such initiatives at a similar scale and context.
    Help bring our project to life!
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