A housing project for a 100 elephants and their Mahouts (caretakers), Hathigaon (or elephant village) is situated at the foothill of the Amber Palace and Fort near Jaipur. The design strategy first involved structuring the landscape that had been devastated by its use as a sand quarry by local sand suppliers, to create a series of water bodies to harvest the rain runoff, as this is the most crucial resource in the desert climate of Rajasthan. With the water resources in place, an extensive tree plantation program was carried out together with seeding the site to propagate local species - all at an extremely low cost, using local labour and craftspeople. The water body was a critical component of the design, as it also facilitated the bonding between the mahout and elephant, through the process of bathing – an important ritual both for the health of the elephant as well as their bonding with their keeper.
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