Sea Sand Structures


Sea Sand Structures, the workshop emphasizes the transition in topography and program as two crucial interrelated aspects at ´fringe´conditions. By focussing on this way of reading the site, the workshop will encourage ‘invention’ of new programs as a process of urban development as opposed to the techniques of working extremely with context towards urban intervention. The workshop explores coastal sites in Mumbai and is conducted jointly and simultaneously by BSSA, Mumbai and IAAC, Barcelona . The interesting opportunity is to see an array of diverse proposals.


City Fringe in the most literal sense is seen as municipal border or toll points or even natural coast. Fringe condition however, whether natural or administrative, is like a ‘field’ effect and on most occasions it distorts the density around it.

Ex. Unoccupied spans of land, unmanned infrastructure components, power plants, salt pans, highway intersections and flyovers, railway yards and junctions, coastal edges

These are some exemplary structures/networks which create fringe like conditions both at the border as well as within the city.

Ex. The Glorius Intersection in Barcelona and north-south Western Railway Lines in Mumbai.

The effect on density around these conditions can be of dual nature. At some places, the density fades, land prices gradually fall, and programs diminish gradually towards the fringe. Ex. city outskirts.

In other cases the built form, human occupancy and programmatic density, doesn’t really fade but come to an abrupt termination when encountering the fringe. Ex. flyovers and beaches. Most of the time railway lines and flyovers in urban areas are post-congestion solutions. Hence they are inserted into the city fabric which is already occupied land and they do not really create a void around them when completed but fit within the given tight slot. Beaches on the other hand attract tourists, hospitality buildings, office spaces, retaining their recreational, commercial and residential value and remain prime hot spots. City coast line, in its changing topography, creates different fringe conditions. In order to understand them, it is important to observe the nature of occupancy whether temporal/permanent, the built character whether natural/man-made, the program whether spontaneous or planned or non-existent.


The inference here is the possible universality of the kind of effect that fringe conditions create. The impact of a fringe is so great that it may affect its surroundings in much the same way within different urbanities around the world.

Ex. A dense multilayered flyover intersection, an interstate railway junction, a garbage dump near the coast, create similar no man’s land around them, in different cities

At times it may even breakdown cultural systems; so that no matter what is the context of the site, the fringe is the dominant governing element in transforming the surrounding built fabric. Can we understand a process of design where, when dealing with such sites we focus more on the fringe itself rather than the nature and context of the site? Then perhaps interesting interventions are possible based solely on the parameters of the fringe.


In order to adapt to the fringe or utilize the fringe, spontaneous programs are born which may be temporary and small in scale but over a period of time their repetitiveness gradually shapes the built fabric around them OR vice versa.

Ex. One flyover can either generate spontaneous changes in traffic flow to eventually alter the fabric within an area of one square kilometer around it OR a completely designed intersection can force traffic to alter its nature, speed and flow. Recreational activities and occupancy on beaches are closely related with diurnal tide conditions. Mangroves block direct access to the sea, but by attracting migratory birds in their unique ecology, become spontaneous hotspots for bird-watchers annually. Marshy/sluggish creeks forced as city sewers create an aversion towards coast in neighbouring residents.

The spontaneity of the program is governed solely by the fringe specific parameters. It is this spontaneity of the program at the fringe which is of great interest in this workshop. The motive is to explore this spontaneity, by raising questions and INVENT a new program. Or DESIGN a new structure at the fringe by only considering its physical parameters and hence INVENT the structure specific use / program. One of the simplest fringes, the coast, has been chosen as the site. And the brief is to conceive a structure which can be stable on both sand and water in part or as a whole.

The focus is on the condition of how sea and land come together and of the movement of waves. How the ground plane, the site changes gradually/abruptly from land to water. The coast of Mumbai has been chosen with all its different conditions to be examined before design of the structure. Whether the invention of a program leads to a structure on the specific site OR a structure which can negotiate both with land and waves, results in the invention of a new program for the site will be the interesting aspect of this design process


1. The program question: why do we not light up the ocean at the beach?

2. The geography: city fringe and temporal use (beaches are used only sometimes at night)

3. The topography: sea – sand

The solution can vary from a hybrid network or web structure of light fixtures which are sporadically distributed on the beach and the web should be designed to anchor on sand and float due to its versatile nature. While at night the web lights up the ocean say 50 meters inside the water, during the day it can act as a safety net for swimmers.


Select a site out of the given set of examples from Mumbai coast or from your own exploration.

Analyze the nature of topography – built/natural/and depict physical characteristics which can be key to the proposal

Analyze the uses/misuses/no use/spontaneous uses/from diurnal to annual; repetitive to occasional to understand that the proposal respects them or if intended, modifies them. Look at the nature of the occupancy which is closely related with the use.

Analyze access to the site and possible layers between usable ground plane and water.

Raise an argument connected as much with the physicality of site as with the context, trying to explain the relation between the two whether new/latest or historically evolved.

Design a structure which can utilize the physical features of your site to be stable conceiving a purpose both on land and water.

Topography of land and movement of waves as well as pattern of the waves can be the key in the design of the structure.

The structure should have minimum footprint so it affects the existing programs or the natural site in a minimally.


The presentation is in the form of one A1 sheet and corresponding 4 sections on blog as mentioned below.

A1 sheet & Blog consisting of the following

1 write-up (100 words stating your site name, topographic significance, proposal’s ability to invent a program)

1 photomontage (Pictures of the sites will be provided while there is liberty to find new pictures if required)

1 Location Plan

1 dwg or detail of your structure which explains its functioning in a unique way.

The final presentation will be very brief. Every group will get 3-5 minutes to present their proposal.

Faculty: Hemant Purohit

Advisor: Areti Markopoulou

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