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2250 AD: A Nautical Odyssey
Alex Steffen, 19 Sep 04

view 2.jpgRohit Gupta writes:

Bombay, India -- “Create a foundation for a perfect world in the next century (2250 A.D.) that would sustain life and habitat in the future but would not interfere in the surrounding eco-system. The structure should have basic functional areas catering to 5000 families.”

That was the challenge presented to the student teams from 80 Indian colleges that entered in NASA ’04 (National Association of Students of Architecture’s annual design event) hosted this year by the Hiray College Of Architecture in Bandra (East).

(Most of the media ignored it, except an enthusiastic piece by Nina Martyris in the Times Of India. “A City On Mars, And Another 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” 17th September, Page 2 in this convenient e-paper. Registration is free, but required.)

On Friday afternoon I visited. The exhibition was already over, but I was
patiently received and shown about 30 of the 116 entries. Three things were
immediately obvious: a) most of the teams assumed that the world would be
largely submerged in water, that the atmosphere would be far too polluted to be breathable, and energy would be scarce, b) the designs took little note of human nature or costs and c) almost all of them approached growth vertically.

An accompanying friend commented on seeing a map of largely submerged Bombay, "So, essentially you are using (inevitable) disaster as a rebuilding opportunity."

These were the highlights:

1. Question Mark: (see picture) This was an entry by students from the host college. One of them, Vishal, told me why they had constructed a city in the shape of a giant question mark, floating on the water, just off the coast of
Marine Drive, Bombay. "It represents the invisible actual, and metaphorically,
the unknown perfect design that will stand there in 2250 AD. Obviously, this is not that working design but only a notion of it. Only the question remains.."

2. Orbital colonies, fractal architecture and chaotic growth patterns, a city inside a giant genetically-modified tree trunk, cities that grow like viruses, cities that look and function like holes made by earthworms, cities that are constructed out of a city dump, and cities that use no particular metaphor or analogy but seem to make sense, a city built like a helical spring, cities based on and beneath expanding and contracting geodesic domes, cities inside the core of the earth. Phew!

3. This was tucked away in the center of a giant presentation:

"In nxt 250 yrs cncpts of sustnblty'd mk us thnk'f dffrnt apprches for svng energy. Wstge of papr and ink'd be rducd thru chnging th way v wrte. Th wrds v use rgulry'd b wrttn in shrtst possible way."

4. Man-City: One city had been planned like the human body, with the administrative section where the head should be. And I started thinking of citadels, and what the concept of being "centrally located" means. Is being central is simply a choice of symmetry and distance, but not of process? I learned something. The design also proposed that city's skin is the envelop of atmosphere that keeps the unwanted radiation or toxins out.

5. Heliocity: The photovoltaic dome of this city was designed in a mind-
boggling way. The matrix was designed so that it literally followed the path of the sun round the year, to maximize the solar energy, down to individual housing units behaving in the same fashion, like a city of static sunflowers.

6. Sea-horse: I stared at this plan for a good half hour. First you are shown a
sea horse, with an arrow indicating its moment of inertia and how it stays upright, it's anatomy and vehicular study. Then the design slowly morphs across the chart into a stable structure, which is then blown up into a giant Sea-horse City, designed to chill around India's Lakshwadeep Islands. The intricacy was heart-breakingly beautiful. At the bottom of the horse's tail, a small extension supported a balcony called 'spiritual pod'.

7. Nautica: There was this flat design in two layers, constructed over a
geodesic structure. Ground floor is people and commerce, and the top floor is
industry. Submerged in the water is the nuclear reactor that powers the city.
Funnily enough, the design proposed that if the reactor gets unstable, it is
detached from the bottom, or literally dumped. It falls into the marine darkness, perhaps into a trench, and explodes while the city floats to another
safe location.

The only far-fetched assumption I found in the design of the contest itself was
the assumption that in 2250 A.D., there would still be a social entity called family...

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Comments

I think you mean A.D. 2250, not 2250 A.D.


Posted by: Henry Quisling on 20 Sep 04

Many of the ideas seem reactionary to the forecast climate changes by applying technology to carve out a niche for human existence. Technology is neither the problem nor can it provide the solution. Technology has only made available the opportunity for people to create more people, but it is society and its institutions which have driven world population to its limits. Limits which are about to be drastically reduced with the eclipse of fossil fuel energy just around the corner. Therefore, it is society and its institutions that will experience the greatest changes in the future. The term A.D. itself showcases how entrenched outdated social institutions like religion have become. How such transitions will take place and shape the future is anyone's guess, but if history is any guide, they won't come without massive violence.


Posted by: Sal on 20 Sep 04


Read the article, the young architects definitely have got so much of new ideas,vision and a wide thinking process, which otherwise is much restricted into academic exercises.NASA ( National Students of Architecture, India ) has definitely given lot of opportunity to students to create designs with aid of technology. Looking two centuries beyond and shaping a futuristic city is a big task, and students definitely have a potential to think in a futuristic way engulfing new thoughts

Regards,
Bhakti,
lecturer,
Hiray College of Architecture


Posted by: Bhakti on 20 Sep 04


Read the article, the young architects definitely have got so much of new ideas,vision and a wide thinking process, which otherwise is much restricted into academic exercises.NASA ( National Students of Architecture, India ) has definitely given lot of opportunity to students to create designs with aid of technology. Looking two centuries beyond and shaping a futuristic city is a big task, and students definitely have a potential to think in a futuristic way engulfing new thoughts

Regards,
Bhakti,
lecturer,
Hiray College of Architecture


Posted by: Bhakti on 20 Sep 04

"The term A.D. itself showcases how entrenched outdated social institutions like religion have become."

...and then Sal died and found himself before The Almighty. He tried to convice God of his idea. But to no avail. God simply wouldn't reason with him. Sal knew that it couldn't be his fault, he was right. God must be wrong, he kept muttering to himself when he noticed the heat had simply become unbearable.


Posted by: Nick on 20 Sep 04

"...when he noticed the heat had simply become unbearable."

... and then the cold approached and the image faded out as the last bits of oxygen were burned up within his brain.


Posted by: Andy on 20 Sep 04

Religions promote confusion between personal faith and religious institution because it makes their presence indispensible.


Posted by: Sal on 20 Sep 04

Okay, boys. Knock it off with the religion on both sides here.

This is neither the way nor the place to discuss the validity of others' religious beliefs.


Posted by: Alex Steffen on 20 Sep 04

Any pictures available?


Posted by: Madcapjack on 20 Sep 04

I didn't RTFA, but I'm glad to see that orbital colonies made the list. It's good to see that some people thinking about the future are still aware of this concept - it has a lot going for it. Without exploiting space, I'm worried about what the future will bring, since resources are dwindling and you can't go on recycling forever (laws of thermodynamics being what they are and all that).

Now if we can just get that price tag down a wee bit...


Posted by: Vince on 20 Sep 04

..laws of thermodynamics being what they are and all that...

Well, actually, since we're being constantly bombarded with energy from our sun, we can go on recycling, even using and not recycling, for quite a while (a billion or so years). Not that I advocate this approach, just that we could.


Posted by: JDRay on 20 Sep 04

...a billion or so years...

Short term thinking like that is what got us into this problem in the first place! :-)


Posted by: Vince on 20 Sep 04

The world already is largely submerged underwater. Seventy percent of it is, or thereabouts.

And it's very likely that there will still be families in AD 2250, as there have been families for thousands of years leading up to now. Historical precedents for departure from familial systems have usually ended up being pretty crappy, and trends we see of degradation now are just part of the same old cyclical patterns. Society will continue to oscillate back and forth in trends of traditionalism vs. liberalism. We can extrapolate the current direction of the family in society and say that it will be dissolved in not too long, or we can see that many many times over the course of history it has headed in that direction and always eventually reversed course and headed back the other way toward traditionalism.

Cities that are successful will continue to develop the same way other successful cities have developed: not by advance planning, particularly not on a large scale. I-15 and the casinos in Las Vegas weren't built with the intention of creating a city, but with the intention of servicing an already existing city or need (casinos really don't target the locals). So, my guess is that, if everything is covered with water, cities on or in the oceans will arise slowly, beginning with agricultural ventures on small scales and growing from there, like most other major cities got started.


Posted by: Danny on 20 Sep 04

There is nothing new under the sun. Not when you really think about it. I think this exercise is a fascinating view into the fractal nature of societal development. The same ideas come around again and again, but built on top of each other and changed a little to avail themselves of modern capabilities. It would be interesting to have a God's-eye-view on the temporal expanse of human engineering efforts. The creativity of the ideas in this article was fun to read about. Thanks.


Posted by: Jeff Clough on 21 Sep 04

I would love to see some pictures of these projects. Are they available somewhere? This would be a great topic for upcoming Industrial Designers.


Posted by: Tanya on 21 Sep 04

Sal said:
Technology has only made available the opportunity for people to create more people

I think that statement is indefensible. Technology has (fairly obviously) done far more than make available the opportunity for people to create more people. And for the record, I think we were creating more people just fine before technology came on the scene as well.

The fact that religion is still entrenched in our societies should tell you it is not outdated. I myself don't choose to participate in one, feeling that personal faith does not require one. But, the continued presence of faith communities within the larger communities does not appear likely to disappear anytime soon.

Many of the ideas the students suggest may be based on either a realistic or pessimistic (depending on how you see things) view of where we'll be. Undoubtedly, in either event, it is an incorrect postulation, because seeing the future (even for Master Yoda) is quite a feat. Doing it right even moreso, and more by luck than design I think.

Having said that, the excercise of imagination, creativity, and attempting to answer questions about where we might be going, why, and how is well worthwhile. Trying to envision the future means that if we don't like a particular vision, we could start taking steps to see it doesn't come to past. If we never look ahead, we'll be constantly surprised by one situation after another. The ideas themselves may not be workable, but the idea that gets people thinking about the ideas is not only workable, but valuable to our societies.

And besides, it was probably a fun project, which makes education enjoyable, which is really something lacking from many post secondary settings.


Posted by: Tomb on 22 Sep 04

different people have a different perspective regarding the future, but most of them consider relying on the technology, my point of view is only that the only reliable source 4 us is nature and as far as futuristic needs are concerned only nature can fulfill them if used wisely
are any pictures of some of the entries available?


Posted by: uttara on 25 Sep 04

The entries which formed the part of the competition were far beyond the imagination that we were expecting , we had had a great amount of research ourselves even before we set the brief , and amazingly the imaginations and the work portrayed were far beyond what we had found in the documentations and the ideas of many significant scientists and innovators .....solutions by the students have shown greater innovations and a wide realm to horizons of thinking .

Regards,
Annual N.A.S.A. Design Competition Co-ordinator
L.B. Hiray College Of Architecture
Mumbai


Posted by: Himanshu Chopra on 30 Sep 04



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