One of the biggest problems our country is currently facing is the proliferating amount of waste materials that are being dumped on the roadside near houses, schools, and even hospitals. Though waste management has been considered the need of the hour, efficient measures to deal with the problem still remains far-fetched.
Of the waste materials that are piling up on earth, non-biodegradable ones pose a greater problem as they need advanced technologies to get disposed off efffectively into harmless substances. That said, the inefficiency in the establishment and negligence by the system has not allowed any such high-end technologies to thrive in our country.
Amid all these discussions, the University of Westminster, with a vision of being a part of collective change, announced a design competition as an initiative to upgrade 1000 public places in South Asia. This project brought together all the South Asian countries in an attempt to enhance their public spaces thereby involving local participation in this endeavour. A group of students from Priyadarshini Institute of Architecture and Design Studies, Nagpur enrolled to participate in the competition and decided to use the waste dumped in an area to beautify it and make the place useful for the local residents.
The idea, “The Beauty From Barrenness – The Change Maker’s Project” is the brainchild of Arpith Roy, a Keralite who, along with his brother, Arpan Roy, is also an active member behind initiatives like ‘Skip a Meal’. Arpith and a few friends built a park for kids at the Friend’s Colony, Nagpur. The site, triangular in nature with roads along two side and the boundary wall of residential buildings on the third, was stripped off of broken tiles, stones, and weed. From these, materials that could be used for sustainable use and easy installation were collected.
The students were also firm on implementing this project with the active participation of the residents of the colony as well as the children from the nearby slum. Explaining more about the vision behind this initiative, Arpith says, “Every day, while the beautification of the boundary wall was underway, we could notice the hesitance among the residents on seeing their kids interact with the slum children. However, our aim was to involve all kids without any heed to who belonged where and instil a feeling that this is ours. A place where everyone felt a sense of ownership and responsibility. Thus, young, adolescent, and adult alike lent a helping hand in planting trees, painting walls, gathering waste materials like broken tiles and bricks, and painting of various stones and tyres. We could witness the line of division between the communities slowly taking a turn to become the thread of friendship.”
The play areas were designed by the students keeping in mind to improve the children’s physical as well as mental activity. A prominent one is the “maze of tyres” created by burying tyres vertically into the ground halfway through. The centre of the maze holds a very innovative installation made out of waste plywood, PVC pipes, and metal sections which holds the LED lights in position. This interactive play area includes a placard which asks the children to gather various materials and further beautify the tree. The entire concept not only ensures that the creativity of the children is being used, but also utilisation of their physical ability. According to the students, another play area, which received a great response from the kids is the “monkey bar” which is made out of timber posts creating a cubical frame and many coloured tyres hanging from the ropes. There is also a sandpit, which is a major hit amongst toddlers.
To invoke a sensitization towards the waste produced in the locality and as a step towards proper waste management, a compost pit is constructed in the colony aimed at converting bio-degradable waste into manure. This pit known as “keyhole gardening’ is designed in such a way that the biodegradable waste is decomposed and its nutrients directly supplied to the adjoining plants.
Another interesting and unique feature of this garden is the pathways constructed with the use of waste tyres. The pathway is constructed out of 40 percent waste tyres, along with stone dust and broken bricks making up the filling material. “A bounce in the step is definitely seen in the morning walks of the residents who are out to enjoy the fresh and active vibe of the garden. It is a matter of great pride to see such brilliant acceptance of change in the society and a yearning for more,” says Arpith.
He added that the faculty members, students from different batches and the residents of the area have helped take this project to the level it is at now. He is of the opinion that unanimous efforts to bring a better lifestyle to the people, irrespective of their state, will only lead mankind to live better and healthier.
This effort made by the students of Priyadarshini College is an excellent example of economic yet eco-friendly construction. These students have broken the stereotypes and are proving that people need to act without preconceptions in order to become the change makers. Our society definitely needs more people with such intentions and thoughts for the betterment and development of our nation.