India in 2047 AD – urban jungle or planned lifestyles

New Delhi: Solar-powered terrace gardens, self-cooling rooms and a basement parking where hundreds of cars can be `piled` one atop another might describe a skyscraper in any city in India, say another forty years from now. Or would it?

Will India in the year 2047, a hundred years after it became a democracy, be able to create for its one billion plus and counting population, sustainable cities or would it spawn ghettoised habitats that deplete vital resources like water and energy?

City planners, architects, artists and other professionals have put together here a week-long event "India @100- Festival of urbanity" combining artworks, debates, seminars, theatre and music that seeks ideas and solutions to make cities better.

"Cities are a continuum of rural life. We should stop seeing them as a collection of only iconic buildings. In another 37 years India will turn 100 and we need to see ahead of what will become of our cities then. Say, how would the densely populated and congested Chandni Chowk look in 2047?" architect Sanjay Prakash told PTI.

By the end of the next 50 years, 50 per cent of Indians would end up living in cities, say the event organisers, who point out that the need of the hour is to develop cities that address the challenges of the 21st century- issues of infrastructure, ecological security, shelter, employment and opportunity.

"Instead of imitating places like Singapore or other western cities and creating photogenic buildings that are good to look at with tall glass facades, developers should look at future ready buildings that factor in changing environments of work, rest, recreation and other lifestyles," says Suparna Bhalla, architect and conservationist.

Architectural wonders and positive "hope" stories spinning out of various cities across the country like Delhi`s Metro, Mumbai`s dabbawalas, low cost airlines, Chandigarh`s rock garden, peoples bazaar at Janpath, Surat city, the kala Ghoda festival and even Bollywood along with artworks and installations that depict a slice of life in urban India are also displayed at the event.

Artworks and photographs have been curated by Alka Pande who says,"cities are all about cultural transformation."

In her installation `Neo camouflage` Delhi-artist Vibha Galhotra explores issues relating to uncontrolled growth of Indian cities. She morphed digitally manipulated photographs taken of places in old Delhi- street views, buildings rooftops, bylanes etc onto a digital print on canvas.

"This is my satiric take on how if we go on living in an unplanned one day we many need a new uniform for our military," says Galhotra whose installation shows mannequins of men dressed in military uniforms that are a montage of the picture behind them.

Another installation "urban tyrannosaurus" by Kristene Micheal displays a tyrannosaurus whose each body part resembles a giant chilly.

"The indigenous south American chilly has so much been integrated into India`s culture that it is difficult to think of it as `foreign`. Urban landscapes fueled by ceaseless migration gives rise to anonymous faceless identities.

The urban skyline dominated by the individual consumer who fuels all contemporary notions of development, growth and success," says the artist.

Pointing out that 70 per cent of buildings in Delhi may not survive till 2047, architect Prakash says even if they do it would become just waste buildings that cannot be used for living or other purposes.

"Planners and builders need to work with materials like bamboo and other eco friendly materials to factor in the fact that India with its tropical climate needs an entirely different perspective when planning cities and the spaces around them," says Prakash.

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