Integrating Solar into Community, Milan

Young Indian architects winning awards at the Politecnico di Milano made me feel so-so proud of these Master’s students Tanvee Thapa and Vinayak Bhattacharya along with their fellow student Silvia Caremoli. Bravo! Keep up your creativity unleashed for the betterment of the world! The GEN Z Series has seen some of the most futuristic design creations by the younger generation of architects. After her post graduation in 2023, Tanvee Thapa joined as a Landscape Architect at LAND, Milan in Italy.

The award-winning architect’s interesting journey from New Delhi to Milan is the testament of her excellence and creativity. Tanvee Thapa graduated with a B. Arch degree from Amity University in India. She reveals, “Born and raised in the vibrant cultural tapestry of India, I spent my formative years surrounded by the rich influences of my heritage. My familial support and the nurturing environment at home fuelled my educational journey, culminating in a five-year Bachelor’s degree in Architecture. Drawn by a deep-seated passion for Sustainable and Landscape Architecture, I ventured to Italy to explore further at Politecnico di Milano.”

Master Plan – Unwinding the Periphery

Tanvee Thapa continues, “Armed with a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture, I embody a harmonious fusion of cultural diversity and a global outlook, ready to contribute to transformative architectural endeavours (smiles). Despite my family lacking a design background and my parents’ professional commitments, time was carved out for me with unwavering encouragement that allowed me to pursue my dreams. My father’s creative mindset and my mother’s tireless dedication became the pillars of my journey. Inspired by my father’s creative problem-solving during our homework sessions, I developed an insatiable curiosity to learn from him and embark on a challenging path of creativity.”

Johnny D interacts with Tanvee Thapa about the quest and her group thesis ‘SOxCO: Integrating Solar into Community, Milan’.

Journey from Natural to Man-Made

What was your childhood ambition? Did you always wanted to become a landscape architect?

My childhood ambition began with the love for dancing, singing and drawing. It was a creative journey until a High School Mechanical Drawing class sparked my unexpected interest towards architecture just for the passion of drawing initially. During my bachelor’s, I developed the love for hiking on the mountains and it gave me a profound inclination towards a landscape experience. I used to call it ‘a room without a roof’. The allure of crafting spaces without boundaries, seamlessly blending with the natural world beyond the window, became my guiding force.

Promoting Biodiversity under the Panels

How has architecture / landscape architecture influenced your life as a student?

Landscape architecture has enriched my life by instilling a profound appreciation about the interconnectedness between built and natural environments. It fuels my commitment to sustainable design, influencing my daily choices. It has heightened my sensitivity to the aesthetics of outdoor spaces and their impact on well-being. With the immense knowledge available for sustainability in cultural and contemporary contexts, I persistently strive to expand my understanding, thereby contributing to the intersection of traditional wisdom and modern practices.

A Hinge for various Atmospheres

Briefly tell us about your University and the Master’s Course.

I earned my ‘Sustainable Architecture and Landscape Design’ degree with the highest honours, ‘110 con laude’, from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. The program offered a comprehensive exploration of diverse design typologies, including marine architecture, green housing, solar park landscapes and highway landscapes. I am grateful for the dedicated faculty who not only imparted knowledge, but also inspired and respected individual design choices, proudly carrying forward the values instilled in me as a passionate architect.

Interweaving across Different Environments

Briefly describe the significance of your project with the ‘Title of the Project and Site Location’.

Project: SOxCO: Integrating Solar into Community

Project by: Tanvee Thapa, Vinayak Bhattacharya, Silvia Caremoli

Site location: Parco Piazza D’Armi, Milan, Italy

Solar energy, with its profound significance in nature, takes center stage in propelling mankind’s evolution in this project. The thesis takes the opportunity to unite modern-day solar parks into the urban fabric, aiming to forge a new and sustainable form of landscape.

Parco Plaza D’Armi – Master Plan

The primary focus is to decentralize energy production by creating a ‘zero-mile local energy smart grid’. Its core objective is to create a harmonious alliance between energy systems and the diverse natural environments within the abandoned military area by opening its edges and inviting the city to become an active and integrated participant in this sustainable endeavour. To achieve this, the proposal entails choosing a site based on the criticalities of setting up a PV plant followed by categorizing it into heterogenous spaces as per their morphology. Depending on typicality, it adopts sustainable solutions for the cohesive integration of PV panels in a multi-faceted urban landscape.

0 KM Restaurant

The outcome encompasses: a community solar park inviting users for a unique experience, revitalized military barracks transformed into a thriving hub igniting economic growth and former illicit orchards reshaped into solar-powered community gardens. By forging a unique alliance between the natural environment and architectural technology, the park not only cultivates resilience, social integration and sustainability, but also serves as an educational platform, thereby empowering and involving the community in the adoption of sustainable practices.

From Military Relic to Community Oasis

Which National or International architect / landscape architect has inspired / influenced you? Please specify as to why?

During my Masters, I was highly influenced by Gilles Clement and his ideology of ‘garden in motion’. His projects ‘Jardins du Tiers Paysage’ and ‘Parc Citroen’ inspired me during my ‘REWILD: Sowing seeds of nature from the death of a solar plant’ project and my thesis. I implemented his ideology of ‘to do as much as possible for and as little as possible against’ and gained a new design tool of designing with palimpsest.

Community Orchards – Master Plan

As an Intern, what is the most important lesson(s) you have learned from seniors, while being a part of a project?

The most crucial lessons that I have learnt from my seniors during project involvement are the importance of collaboration and holistic thinking. Understanding how various disciplines integrate into a project and collaborating effectively with architects, engineers, agronomists and environmental experts is essential. Additionally, I have learned the significance of considering long-term sustainability, community engagement and the environment’s well-being in every decision.

Nature’s Embrace – The Solar Structure

What role do you perform as a Landscape Architect at LAND, Milan?

Since October 2023, my role as a Landscape Architect at LAND, Milan involves engaging in projects from site analysis, design conception and idea generation. Engaging with architects, engineers, agronomists, etc., I become a part of the seamless collaboration and alignment. Monthly workshops enhance my expertise, while also managing post production sections, renders and photomontages. This expertise allows me to continuously contribute from project inception to fruition and driving collective success.

Harmony – A Wilderness Haven

Hostile architecture is an eyesore and fast changing the urban landscape of prominent cities around the world creating discomfort to public. Architecture is meant to benefit the people / users at large, but the effects of hostile architecture are targeting people and depicting wickedness of the society and is against the ethos of architecture field. Elucidate your perspective about this unwanted trend in urban landscape.

Hostile architecture distorts urban spaces, prioritizing exclusion over community well-being. By implementing anti-homeless spikes, leaning benches, or restrictive barriers, urban landscapes contradict the ethos of creating spaces for everyone. Hostile design perpetuates inequalities and also undermines the social function of public spaces. Architecture should foster connection, accessibility and comfort, rather than enforcing division and discomfort among the public.

Which significant aspects of the global platform ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ did you liked the most, and why?

What I admire the most about ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ is its commitment to fostering creativity and excellence in architecture. By providing quality content without advertisements, showcasing emerging talents and prioritizing organic growth, the global platform promotes inclusivity.

Adaptable Farmers’ Market

Local charm of cities has diminished due to Modern Architecture as every city looks alike and similar. How should architects / urban planners / landscape architects modernize cities, while maintaining the local charm intact?

Maintaining the local charm of cities while incorporating modern architecture is indeed a delicate balance, but it can be achieved by thoughtful design strategies to preserve the unique character of the city. Matera in Italy exemplifies modern heritage integration through Sassi redevelopment. Restoring ancient cave dwellings, architects repurposed them for contemporary uses like restaurants and hotels, while preserving their historic charm. Sustainable tourism initiatives complement infrastructure upgrades, ensuring responsible growth and this way cities can evolve, while honoring their cultural legacy.

Ha – Ha Wall – Safety in Serenity

How will the younger generation of landscape architects make innovative changes to mitigate the catastrophic effects of Climate Crisis? Elucidate your perspectives.

The most important thing is to ‘decide’ to make a change. Rest follows through by ‘Butterfly effect’. If the young generation can adopt sustainability in design and promote native planting in communities, they can prioritize drought-resistant plant species that can enhance ecological resilience. Young architects can advocate for sustainable planting practices that reduce water consumption, improve biodiversity and contribute to carbon sequestration.

Looking at the past in the current present, what are the futuristic landscape and architectural changes you would like to see in your home city / town?  Elucidate the reasons for your vision.

Hailing from New Delhi, a dynamic metropolis, I am committed to transforming its urban fabric. As a landscape architect, my mission is to advocate for an abundance of public green spaces. I envision these spaces not merely as residual patches, but also as focal points influencing urban planning. Inspired by transformative success of Central Park in another metropolis, New York, I believe we can create green lungs initiating at the heart – the historic center(Old Delhi)  towards the modern pulse of New Delhi by integrating cultural veins along this green corridor, we can weave a tapestry that revitalizes the cityscape, fostering a harmonious blend of history and progress.

Defining Solar-Urban Nexus

Honours and awards related to architecture, if any.

Our group thesis project ‘SOxCO : Integrating Solar into Community’ won the 1st Prize in ‘Mango Architectural Thesis Award’ and honorable prize in ‘Archmello Thesis of the year competition 2023’.  Team members: Vinayak Bhattacharya, Silvia Caremoli and Tanvee Thapa;

Our Master’s project ‘REWILD- Sowing seeds of nature from the death of a solar plant’ won honorable prize in ‘ArchHiveiConcept Award 2023’. Team members: Vinayak Bhattacharya and Tanvee Thapa;

We also scored a ‘Special Mention in Landscape and Landscape Design’ in MIRC Competition 2022. Team members: Vinayak Bhattacharya, Silvia Caremoli and Tanvee Thapa.

4 x 4 Flexible Solar Modules

Image Courtesy: Tanvee Thapa

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