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An it park in heaven
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2009-03-07 City : Thiruvandrum

A coastal village is becoming a showpiece. T. NANDAKUMAR reads the blueprint.

With a golden beach nearby and a cluster of islands separated by clean, flowing water, Purakad village at Ambalappuzha in Alappuzha district is endowed with all the natural attributes to be developed as a prime tourist destination.

The State government now has unveiled plans to transform the sleepy coastal village into a showpiece destination for the information technology (IT) industry. On the cards is an ambitious project to develop the first water-theme-based IT Park in the country. It will be an extension of the Info Park, Kochi.

The project, which is part of the hub-and-spoke model of IT development, will initially offer over 2 lakh sqft of built-up space including plug-and-play incubator facilities and fully developed plots. When completed, it will provide employment for nearly 10,000 IT professionals. The government has classified 33 acres of land as a Special Economic Zone for the park.

The project features a host of landmark features offering a mix of office, commercial, residential and recreational facilities without disturbing the natural ecosystem. Up to 40 per cent of the 100-acre site will be retained as waterbodies and waterways. The land area will comprise islands connected by bridges and roads.

The proximity of the site to the TS Canal is expected to facilitate water transport to the park from the Infopark campuses at Kochi and Cherthala. It is also designed to catalyse the development of backwater tourism and resort-based leisure amenities.

The master plan prepared by the Kochi-based Ajit Associates features resort-based leisure facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness clubs, pedestrian pathways and a bicycle track. The proposed buildings are designed organically with curved surfaces to merge with the natural environment.

Recreation hubs

The recreation hub comprises golf courses, parks and amusement centres. The design visualises the use of boats for transportation between the proposed islands. Separate zones have been provided for multilevel car parking and hospitals.

A convention centre, shopping mall and hypermarket, exhibition centre and a multiplex have also been proposed to attract tourists and enhance the commercial viability of the space. The residential area is planned as clusters with large open space between buildings. The design also includes gardens and ponds to create a harmony between buildings and nature. To make use of the proximity of the TS canal, the designers have proposed a marina to promote recreational boating.

The design will follow Green building technologies to reduce environmental impact and ensure energy efficiency. According to architect B.R. Ajit of Ajit and Associates, the master plan will follow the soon-to-be-introduced LEEDS rating system for neighbourhood development under the Green concept. The design incorporates onshore windmills to generate 2 MW of power, the first of its kind in the country. “More than 60 per cent of the power requirement of the park will be met by renewable energy sources,” Mr. Ajit said.

An area of 9 acres has been allotted for rainwater harvesting, including a 6-acre pond. To conserve energy, overhead reservoirs will use gravity to supply water to the islands on the campus.

Additional features highlighted in the master plan include a five-star hotel and spa, a mini golf course and a lakeside resort. The estimated investment for the Infopark, Ambalapuzha, will be Rs.500 crore. The State government will make an initial investment of Rs.100 crore. According to the IT department, apart from the employment potential, the park will boost the rural economy and enhance the living standards of the local people.

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