• Productive Landscapes in Srinagar—A Case of Floating Gardens and Hanji Settlements of Dal Lake
    Nusaibah Khan

Nusaibah Khan, "Landscape of Fluxes and Flows," 2022. Digital drawing, 8 x 8 in. Courtesy the artist

Water has always held a sacred place in the history of Srinagar, evident in its ancient cartography, folklore, festivals, and everyday life. This intimate relationship with water, embedded in tacit knowledge practices and self-organizational production systems, undergirds the city’s socioeconomic and cultural landscape and shapes its patterns of urbanization. One of the most significant examples of intricate, water-dependent production systems lies within Dal Lake, the second-largest freshwater lake in Kashmir. Sustained by a community of lake-dwellers—known locally as Haenz or Hanjis—the floating lacustrine economy constitutes a network of agricultural production, handicrafts, tourism, and other entangled practices that extend into the city and contribute significantly to its economy. This project examines the production and maintenance of this fragile ecosystem through history and how recent changes in urban and land-use policies in Srinagar are impacting community life, livelihoods, food production, and economic networks.

Nusaibah Khan is an architect from Srinagar, currently based in the United States. She holds a master’s of science in advanced architectural design from Cornell University and a BArch from Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT University), India. Khan’s thesis titled “Fluid Commons” serves as the basis for the proposed project. She received the Kohler design scholarship for her undergraduate research work on the changing urban fabric in Downtown Srinagar, titled “Transformation of the Public Realm: A Study of Spaces and Life in the Old City of Srinagar.” Her interest in place-making and design agency is reflected in some of the work she has undertaken including a proposal for the sustainable urban development of Bourg-en-Lavaux, a UNESCO-protected region in Switzerland, as well as proposals for the sustainable development of cities like Bangkok, presented at the Designing Resilience in Asia Competition at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2018.