From artifact to site : understanding the canal in the city of gardens
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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The words 'garden' and 'infrastructure' express the power of culture over nature. In celebration of its history of Mughal gardens and waterworks, Lahore has been construed in local imaginations as "the city of gardens". In this thesis I argue that the contemporary usage of this popular urban motif is rooted in the nineteenth-century planning of the city and the concurrent development of the vast canal irrigation system in the Punjab. I examine the Lahore Canal to evidence how it shapes not only the form of the city but also its character: at the end of the nineteenth century Lahore is transformed into a center of culture and refinement, "the city of gardens". This thesis looks at the story of the modernization of a landscape to transform it from an "arid desert" into a "fertile garden", in two parts. First I examine the canal, the instrument of this transformation, as an artifact of a technological system. I argue that, in this capacity, it is a conduit for ideas of reform and cultivation that accompany colonial planning and that these ideas later emerge within the city-of-gardens rhetoric. In the context of contemporary urban issues, a sentimental identification with the Mughal history of gardens ignores the colonial themes of decay, fertility and beauty. I argue that a continued uncritical attachment to the city-of-gardens narrative obfuscates planning challenges in the city through a continuing emphasis on landscape beautification. This approach is not just irrelevant but pernicious to topical thinking about equitable and sustainable development.(cont.) In the second part of the thesis I explore the canal as a site for contemporary urban planning. By identifying the themes explored in part one in the built form, I propose an expanded program for future design directions.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2009.Includes bibliographical references (p. 125-128).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology