Changing Places - Re:silience  

Bengal Flux

Bengal Flux
By Deniz Onder and Carmelo Ignaccolo
MSc in Urban Design, Colombia University

Bengal Flux is a land-independent water based design vision for the Bengal region. It proposes an adaptive infrastructure for migrant ecological communities in the face of climate change. It equips current fixities in the landscape including dams, barrages, bridges, and levees to accommodate the dynamics of soil, fishes, birds and importantly, farmers. Its ultimate objective is to make a ground that embraces uncertainty and complexity. We trace these problems to accommodate and negotiate the natural flows and fluctuations of water, land and ecological communities: dams, barrages and levees. These ‘fixities’ built into an atavistic ‘flux’ have caused untold damage and introduced considerable uncertainty. Can design turn this around in an age that is realizing the virtues of uncertainty and complexity; can it contribute to making a place-less landscape that is more adaptive and rhizomatic?

Seasonal changes in the Indo Gangetic Plain, the Ganges River overflows during the monsoon in Patna.


The Bengal Flux is a resilience strategy with an open system of local materials that communities will be able construct in four locations, Sundarban delta, Kolkata Howrah Bridge, Farakka barrage and Teesta dam. In Sundarban the main impact focuses on the creation of a stronger river-edge that can host mangrove forest to face erosion and sea-level rise; in Kolkata the design impact focuses on air-water purification between the railway-station and the flower market through a densification of the flower market activities. This area of the city has an impressive daily cycle of workers coming from the outskirts of the city, therefore the designed bamboo units have both an ecological value and a social aspect as resting point for the commuters. In Farakka the design impact focuses on the river bank erosion and on the hilsa fish migration, actually stopped by the existing infrastructure. New fish ladders and wetlands around the dam can create a successful impact onto the ecology and new fishing opportunities for the surrounding villages. In Teesta, Himalayan region, a new anti-erosion infrastructure made of bamboo will work cohesively with a sustainable water absorption through the tea garden terraces.

Teesta Dam, bamboo terraces for agriculture needs on the Himalayas.

The changing place of architectural practice 

The limits of architecture are expanding and the borders are getting blury. Architecture is becoming a subject of bio-centric perspectives and interdisciplinary collaboration. Research is getting engaged with data based tools and at the same time design is becoming more about setting open infrastructures for habitats, communities and ecologies that can be evolved throughout time. We see architecture not as a field of object design but more as a process design which is open to revolutionise itself.

Section from the Tibetan Plateau to the Bay of Bengal, showing displacement, floods, climate change effects and design sites. See video.


Carmelo Ignaccolo is a Teaching Associate at Columbia GSAPP and an Urban Designer at AECOM in NYC. He holds a B.Arch and a MSc in Architecture-Engineering from Catania University in Italy and Tongji University, Shanghai. He has recently completed a MSc in Urban Design at Columbia University GSAPP as Fulbright Fellow. He had international work/research experiences in London and Shanghai.

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Deniz Onder holds Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture. She has a B.Arch and MSc degrees in Architectural Design in Istanbul Technical University. She had worked as an international architectural projects at different scales.

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