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LOOKING AHEAD The students who participated in the workshop
LOOKING AHEAD The students who participated in the workshop

Have you ever wondered how the city would look in 2057?

Can we travel forward in time and see Anna Salai or Besant Nagar Beach? A group of students studying architecture in Anna University tried to do so. They selected a few places in Chennai and presented a set of images on each, as it would be 50 years from now. Metropolis 2057 (a workshop organised by the Department of Architecture, Anna University and Atelier Honey & Bunny, Vienna, Austria) required students to factor in social, cultural, economic and political changes while forecasting the future of a place. Martin Hablesreiter and Sonja Stummerer of Honey and Bunny gave the participants the procedure, which required each team to identify a place in the city that best represented the ideas contained in one of these keywords (fear, harmony, heritage, intimacy, love, power, risk, trade, strange, tradition, transit and faith).

Digital creations

The students were expected to take pictures of this place and with the help of multi-visual aids recreate it in such a manner that it fits into 2057. While they were successful in finding places that connected with the keywords, their digital creations bore little resemblance to the originals. Because the students moved away from the real images and focussed on larger ideas. According to a faculty of the Department of Architecture and Planning, Anna University, the team of experts who conducted the workshop were comfortable with this departure from the original plan when they noticed that it helped the students present mindscapes as much as landscapes, in 2057. One of the films, based on `Strange', showed a world chillingly devoid of variety. Here, there is no winner or loser. Symbolically, a podium evens out and the winner and the runners-up are on the same level. The models on hoardings are spitting images of one another. In another frame, these look-alikes gawp at a hoarding that belongs to 2007, because the model stands out as different. Uniqueness is strange in a world where cloning is part of the natural order of things.Another work, structured on the idea of `risk', is about the concept of space. The team chose a small lane where a motley crowd of traders sell a variety of goods. The students noticed a high degree of uncertainty and even an element of risk in their lives. Because they were encroaching on public road, they could be removed from the place anytime. And there is a huge transformer in the vicinity serving as an ever-present threat to their lives. In this world, space is hard to come by and they have to hold on to whatever they have, heedless of the dangers involved. This team projected a future where space is more flexible. People move about with their space represented as huge blocks. The arrangement of space in this world seems problem-free, but at the end, the presentation points to things that can go wrong with it. Risk will stay with us, all the time. PRINCE FREDERICK

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