future institutions

Published in Indian Architect & Builder Vol 32 (2) October 2018 issue-

[a speculation on the possible trajectories of the future, and there potential implications for designers]

The millennials grow up, and with them grow potential futures and all their attendant possibilities. Along many divergent paths, a set future institutions will emerge, to address new challenges and landscapes. These will occupy the time, thoughts and plans of upcoming architects and planners as they engage the dynamic future city.

As the particulate matter in the air steadily increased, systems for combatting it may have also arisen. Air filter stations will rival petrol pumps in their ubiquity, scrubbing away at the dirty particulate matter and sequestering it for use in carbon composite products factories, the latest and greatest industry grown from the profitable processing of waste. On line with these new systems of regeneration, incinerators with recycled energy units power the whole thing. The architect that lands one of these drool worthy commissions pats herself on the back for her socio-environmental contribution, and pours over the workstation to draw out an iconic-yet-humble design to awe her adoring followers yet provoke a potent message.

Air filter stations will rival petrol pumps in their ubiquity, scrubbing away at the dirty particulate matter and sequestering it for use in carbon composite products factories, the latest and greatest industry grown from the profitable processing of waste.

 

In another set of restorative practices, sewage treatment plants have teamed up with hydroponic farms to produce a closed loop system of growing, harvesting, excreting, and cleaning. Designers, planners, architects and farmers come together to tackle the messy business of cleaning water and connecting it to cleaner food. Is it better to go vertical and stretch the sewage lines parallel? Or would a dense set of collectors spray out in every direction to support orbs of vegetation? Perhaps the best option is simply to colonize the defunct infrastructures of the 21st century- lay tracks of treatment along redundant roads and bridges, which anyway are wasting away for lack of use. In the places that have already become sewage free, floating sea water farms take advantage of the space and the convenience of growing food in the salt rather than adding it after. Marine architects try their hands at these, happy to find alternatives for their skills that don’t require a security clearance or a deep knowledge of naval warfare tactics.

Sewage treatment plants have teamed up with hydroponic farms to produce a closed loop system of growing, harvesting, excreting, and cleaing.

 

In the places that have already become sewage free, floating sea water farms take advantage of the space and the convenience of growing food in the salt rather than adding it after.

 

The institution of the day though, the one that all the competitions are for, is the home for connective sciences, a new field that developed from the need to make sense of the trajectories of many different faculties. As society reached the saturation point of knowledge discovery, and the differing lenses combined with the oversupply of information led to a post-truth, increasing ignorant and stubborn population, the avant-garde approach toward knowledge shifted. No longer a direct search for truth, connective sciences find relevance among shared and conflicting sets of knowledge. A Connective Science Institute is the new cathedral.

The home for connective sciences - a new field that developed from the need to make sense of the trajectories of many different faculties.

As society has aspired higher and higher, its commercial underpinnings have raced to keep up. Not nearly rid of the rampant consumerism that plagued the late 20th and early 21st centuries, urban warehouses have multiplied, becoming an integral fixture in the urban landscape. These carrying and forwarding facilities manage the logistics of stuff- what is made, consumed and discarded, in a still inefficient loop of construction, destruction and decay. Big firms have become good at designing these, stamping them out across cities from Kolkata to Reykjavik.

Not nearly rid of the rampant consumerism that plagued the late 20th and early 21st centuries, urban warehouses have multiplied, becoming an integral fixture in the urban landscape.

 

And the fear that grew at the onset of the 21st century, which caused wars and set off barriers to movement of people and trade, sadly remains. It is tethered to the structures of governance, seen in the high walls that fend of outsiders, while locally, people’s interdependence has grown so great, they no longer operate from independent premises but instead gather for work at local assembly halls, a sort of work-share community that grew out of the startup culture of the early 2000s. These halls suffice for most, but as disasters have increased, both due to war and natural events, the simple bond of society is no longer enough, and many communities have retreated into their religions. The most lucrative projects of the day then, are the religious complexes for disaster management, which provide spiritual healing for physical and mental discomfort, inflicted by the trials of a diverse world.

High walls - The fear that grew at the onset of the 21st century, which caused wars and set off barriers to movement of people and trade, sadly remains.