The way we interact with our environment reflects our sensibility and the responsibility we have for our mother Earth. The Ted Talk, “The architectural wonder of impermanent cities” by Rahul Mehrotra explores how we can act more sensitively, change our attitude towards resources, and effectively manage the spaces. The talk revolves around the urban level study of temporary settlements around the world with special emphasis on Kumbh Mela and understanding its importance and relevance in today’s scenario.

TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet1
Kumbh Mela 2013 Sangam, Allahabad ©wikipedia.org
TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet2
Kumbh Mela ground ©nextcity.org

As a responsible architect, one must understand how space can be used effectively and must reserve space for temporal use. The temporal use of space makes the urban space more elastic and increases the value of space. On having a world view of the urban spaces around us, we can see how temporary cities are more dynamic, and like a living organism itself adjusts itself as per the constraints and other factors. On the other hand, permanent buildings are losing their values as our priority and lifestyle change with the development of technology.

TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet3
Atlanta farmers markets ©www.ajc.com

So, with the understanding of the requirement and advantages of temporal use of spaces, we can look at the temporary megacity that comes up at the meeting point of Ganga and Yamuna for 55 days. This temporary megacity has a similar physical and social infrastructure to a permanent megacity and houses 100 million pilgrims. The city follows a gridiron planning so that, in any case, the river course changes the path the grid can be shifted. The city that comes up is made up of mainly bamboo, ropes, nails and screws, fabrics, and corrugated metal which leaves no marks on the ground. There are lots of things we can learn from the things around us. 

TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet4
Kumbh Mela ground ©scielo.conicyt.cl

The temporal cities appear around us in the form of markets, slums, circus grounds, puja pandals, ceremony pavilions, etc. These teach us about the use of materials, reversibility, disassembly, and how can we do the most minimal impact on this planet. We, humans, resist change by our nature, but the change in our life, will happen and that’s what life means. There are many types of sustainable and green projects we are going to have in our near future but we must act sensibly, generate the best design solution with minimum materials and very little impact on our mother Earth.

Soon, we must go familiar with impermanent city designs and the materials to have a minimum impact on the earth. The biodegradable building materials like straw bales (a good replacement of concrete, with a high level of insulations, and it is easily available, cheapest renewable biodegradable material that can be used), grasscrete (mainly used in landscapes and improves stormwater absorption), rammed earth (this material as a building material is used by human beings all thousands of years ago, and modern rammed earth with bamboo reinforcement is much safer to use), bamboo (it is a grass with high tensile strength which can be used in remote areas, as it can be grown locally and have very low carbon footprint), mycelium (it is a root structure of fungi and mushroom and is considered a future material), etc can be used in projects.

TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet5
Strawbales building ©inhabitat.com
TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet6
Rammed earth building ©inhabitat.com
TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet7
Structure of mycelium ©inhabitat.com

Generative design solutions are also effective in designing buildings and products with minimum material usage and optimizing the design with various simulation tools. Autodesk in near future is going to launch generative design tools for all the Autodesk products. Already Generative design for Autodesk fusion is released. Kangaroo solver in Grasshopper is a generative design tool that is used by several designers. 

TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet8
GAN-Generated Masterplan ©towardsdatascience.com

The ideal city design must have the capacity of adaptability and adjustments with the climatic changes, cultural and technological advancements, and higher productive spaces. The cities that are coming up have their benefits and means of adaptability in their ways. Some the cities like Masterplan of Penang Island by BIG (it have reserved spaces for the ecology to flourish and settlements can adapt with nature), Toyota woven city (a technology-driven city for advanced machine developments and people can interact with developments in daily life), Laurel Canyon (a city evolved with the rough terrain and flourished in the lap of nature), mixed-use community in Xiong’an, China by Guallart Architects (a city which will be developed with sustainable materials which include co-working spaces, conventional office, start-up spaces, etc), Islais Hyper-Creek (a city which is developed to get adjusted with coastline shifts), etc have impermanence characteristics within. 

TedTalk for Architects:: The architectural wonder of impermanent cities - Sheet9
Bamboo Beacon at Master Plan of Penang Island by BIG © big.dk

Ted Talks for Architects have opened a new dimension for the architects and other professionals to connect and share research with a large community of people. The Ted Talk by Rahul Mehrotra teaches us about how the future of urbanism can be shaped and how we can act more sensitively.

Souktik Bhattacherjee
Author

Souktik is a creative architecture student with a passion for architectural designs. He loves to research extensively on every field and shares his thoughts through visual illustrations. He is also an honest, kind-hearted person and an all-rounder.

Write A Comment