We all know the exemplary Broadacre city by FLW. The futuristic city. Though some of the aspects of this proposal are not true even to this day like flying taxis. It is important to envisage the future so that we can start thinking about the problems we may face tomorrow and it also gives us a better understanding of today’s challenges. Today’s challenges are the basis on which we base the future. But as we all know, all our future predictions have failed in the last two years. So there is always a scope for unpredictability. This unpredictability quotient must always be taken into consideration. This quotient is the necessary ingredient that makes future “predictions” and not “plans”.
What is the future?
The future is tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and also a day after ten years. So which tomorrow are we talking about? We will essentially talk about the future which some of us can live up to seeing. We will take a time frame of a hundred years. So the discussion can have a limit, a fixed time frame and imaginable and relativity ease. For this, we first need good information on current trends in architecture and a geological context. Though we say that globalization has united the whole world, it is not certain and precisely true. Though indeed, anything and everything that can be done in a first world country can be done in a third world country, it is certainly not in the same time frame and scale. This changes the feasibility of a project from place to place.
Our imagination fails us.
The image we have of future cities and architecture is based majorly on sci-fi movies. That is the sole reference we have. Though its possibility in the far future cannot be denied. This imagination has less to do with the current trends and future challenges and more to do with the fancy vision of the future due to the movies. What is important here is that we have a clear idea of the current situation and predict the challenges it can cause in the future with the solutions which would be feasible in the future. Because it might be feasible today to use water as we see fit, but that might not be the case in future. It might not be feasible. It is very important here to go through various researches and data related to various fields and not only to architecture, to predict as precisely as possible.
How much do we know about the present scenario?
We know the current architecture scenario in India. It is still in a nascent stage. We still have a long way to go with the introduction of architecture to the grassroots level and to reach it to the majority of India’s population. Which is not the case in a first world country. Capitalist economies in most countries have made national development directly dependent on economic growth. Many of the reports today suggest India’s rapid economic growth in the coming future, but their promises must be checked.
Present solutions and future challenges.
“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” Similarly there is no solution in the world that does not come with its fair share of problems. In solving today’s problems we create future challenges. Only the degree, scale and time of occurrences varies. With the invention of Reinforced Cement Concrete, we solved the challenge of strength and thick load-bearing walls, this gave rise to multistory buildings and also a solution to dense urban areas to accommodate more and more population. But did it solve the symptom or the disease? We did solve the problem of strength and density but did we do anything to control the population influx? Global population rise? To make the opportunities available to even the rural areas so that urban areas aren’t hampered with unnecessary population? No. Even until today we are busy trying to cure the symptoms and making the world a better place for only humans. All other things will adjust according to our will. But we will not for a single moment change our habits.
A glimpse of this behaviour can be already seen today. It’s a no-brainer that we will face the results of climate change but apart from the obvious, we will be witnessing a good growth of Artificial intelligence. More building automation and a lot of small efforts towards green buildings, which might not give any substantial results if the efforts aren’t quick and impactful.
Yes, not just the future of architecture but our future. Architecture is essentially a reflection of the world we live in. Considering the present scenario, I am forced to believe that sustainability would not be a choice in the coming years, but a necessary vaccine to the devastating disease of human problem-solving. Though with technological advancement it would be efficient and could be effectively handled. AI and sustainability could be the next big things. And there is always the essential ingredient of uncertainty which we must not forget.
Of course, we are aimlessly trying to do our jobs efficiently, but are forgetting in this quest of problem-solving, that no matter what we do, we will always have a problem to solve. Maybe then, we might realize that what we are doing is not problem-solving, but just a selection of one problem over the other. Which we might consider selecting wisely in the coming future or not to select one at all!
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Moody, E., 2014. Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Living City” Lives On: Conserving the Broadacre City Model. [Online]
Available at: https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2014/02/03/frank-lloyd-wrights-living-city-lives-on-conserving-the-broadacre-city-model/
[Accessed 15 august 2021].
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Available at: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/city-looks-over-cracked-earth-landscape-179593850