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Updated: October 24, 2011 18:39 IST

Alternative designs

SRAVASTI DATTA
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Matthias Bottger
Matthias Bottger

“Talking Futures”, the last in the CoLab-Goethe lecture series delivered by German architect Matthias Bottger, spoke of the need to ‘update' architecture and urban design. A teacher of art and architecture at the ETH Zurich, Matthias spoke about an exhibition, for which he was curator and commissioner, titled “Updating Germany—Projects for a Better Future” that was held in 2006 at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice.

Small steps to big change

Matthias interpreted ‘update', differently. “Updates are commonly known from software applications, which means that from time to time, updates add new functions, patch up old flaws or reboot or start from scratch. The concept of ‘Updating Germany' is of accumulating big or small steps that add up to massive change, to a Utopian development towards a more sustainable way of life. Bangalore's urban design too can be ‘updated' in a similar manner,” Matthias began his address.

Matthias, via a slide show, displayed images of the exhibition “Updating Germany” while explaining its significance. The first slide, econic architecture, showed how abandoned or dilapidated buildings can be converted to eco-friendly and sustainable structures. For instance, a building in Germany, used for military purposes, was abandoned after WWII. The massive structure, however, could never be completely destroyed. After 50 or 60 years, it was covered with solar panels. Water is heated in the building that is later used for energy. “In Germany, breweries have been turned into civic or cultural centres. The process of conversion also involves the transformation of symbolic values into the future,” says Matthias, who studied architecture and urban planning.

Matthias also spoke of alternate power sources in the eventuality of oil becoming a scarce resource. In a slide, titled Fossils Landscape, Matthias displayed images of a solar updraft, constructed by a German architect, which would generate power in the absence of oil. Another project, the eco-techno-topia, which is eco-friendly technology, trees are used to design as power plants, which generate power and transfer water.

Matthias spoke of the need to visualise cities that would be eco and citizen friendly. Titled “Urban Futures 2050”, Matthias showed three different futuristic models of European cities. The first was urban walking in an eco-centric city, would be a city where people of common interests would gather, the second, Love thy Neighbour, would be a city that would be designed around the interest of the locals and the third, Ego trip towns — Matthias's favourite — would be a city where energy problems would be resolved.

Matthias concluded the lecture with the thought that we must together build cities we'd be proud of in the future. He stressed the need to think differently and be responsible to create not just one, but multiple Utopias.

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