28 February 2006

Pockets of Absurdity Vs. Pockets of Reality

Different Architects, Planners and Urban (Social) theorists have over the past few decades written extensively on the topic of ghettoization and transformation of various urban landscapes across the globe into ‘Gated Communities’ or even into experiments of ‘Urban Fantasies’ (theme park like realities).

During my architectural education and work in Bombay (now called Mumbai); I observed this urban phenomenon in various forms. From the organic and highly organized (though illegal) shanties of Dharavi (one of the largest ‘Slums’ in the world today) to the highly thematic Post-Modern housing township at the Hiranandani complex in Powai. I constantly run into such pockets of difference - difference from the overall urban fabric of the city. In some cases more than others I use to feel a certain sense of delusion or disorientation. To me these were pockets of the city that were disjointed from reality, disengaged from Bombay itself.

These areas of the city in a sense seemed more like – Pockets of Absurdity – where the urban fabric of the city was distorted beyond recognition. However, over the years this tremendously successful model has been constantly readopted (especially in suburban Bombay) and accompanying this process the city has also managed to recapture parts of these areas through familiar networks of seemingly disorganized programmatic interventions. Inevitably these Processes have started blurring the clear distinction between the ‘Absurd’ and the ‘Real’ by reincorporating many of these pockets into a new (identity of the cities) urban fabric.

Meanwhile, back home, Dubai (where I spent my entire childhood) is being increasingly eaten up by other forms of Urban Absurdities. Large scale urban projects - Malls, CBDs, Housing, Resorts, and Theme Parks - are adopting all sorts of aesthetics from Post-Modern to New Urbanistic and to even forms of irrational Manhattanization of huge chunks of barren desert landscape.

(The above snap is of probably the most absurd of all projects completed in Dubai - the Dubai Ski Slope - 400m of ski slope maintained at an average temperature of -2 degrees celsius in a country were the summer temperature constantly hits +50 degrees. Read more about it on the official website @ http://www.skidxb.com )

Read and see more from Dubai HERE


Anonymous said...

good pics man. expressive of dubai. but there are more in the offing, the most garishly interesting of which should be the recreation of the seven wonders of the world....

sahil.latheef said...

Can't wait for that.... :(

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