top of page

Sponge handbook Chennai

Sponge handbook : A landscape framework for the South Buckhingam canal region of Chennai.

Chennai, India




Project Area

The South Buckingham canal region in Chennai


Type and Scale

Urban design, Canal rejuvenation proposal and resilient vision planning for cloudburst prone cities


Regional analysis, Resilient Planning Framework, Urban design vision, Canal edge Redevelopment, Blue-green infrastructure typologies, Resettlement Housing Strategies, Mixed-use and Slum Housing.


Praveen raj, Sourav kumar biswas, Balaji Balaganesan, Logeshwaran RS, Suriya KP



Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) | Gov’t Departments of TN

Anchor 1

‘The Sponge Handbook: Chennai’ is a comprehensive resource to guide infrastructural investments for water management. The handbook defined regional planning principles that permeate through all levels of planning and design. The Buckingham Canal area is used to illustrate how blue-green infrastructures along with in-situ resettlement housing can instigate a resilient transformation of the canal edge. The various housing typologies and the canal front are carefully designed to be contextually appropriate, socially inclusive and at the same time responsive to the water sensitive framework.

The Buckingham canal study area for the handbook traverses the Adyar River basin and the South Buckingham Canal Basin. Faced with the prospect of increasingly erratic storm events overwhelming Chennai’s rivers and stormwater systems, water bodies like the Buckingham Canal can play a critical role in mitigating flood risk. However, the canal’s ability to withstand cloudbursts is inevitably linked to the preservation of upstream blue-green systems and a network of infrastructures within the city that can slow down runoff, store rainwater, and release into the aquifer. As such, we propose a Sponge Basin framework that is regional in scope but requires
landscape-based interventions at various scales.

The handbook uses the Buckingham Canal area to demonstrate how the Sponge Basin framework can lead to the re-imagination of urban neighbourhoods, transit stations, open spaces, streets, and the rejuvenation of multi-functional infrastructures like the canal itself. The authors hope this handbook will be used as a resource by civil society, corporate initiatives, and government bodies to adopt a fundamentally different approach to infrastructure. The Landscape Approach to infrastructure will lead to more livable neighbourhoods and more resilient regions. It is our hope that this document is a first step in mobilizing the support needed to transform these visions into a reality for Chennai and many other cities around the world.

View the entire handbook here

bottom of page