Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Scenario 5: AN OTHER LAND (2015)

The village needs various initiatives so as to implement the conservation plans suggested. This scenario just mentions of one way forward that is through art as a common language that everyone understands. The issues need be dealt with a personal outlook, getting technical here would not help. The competent authorities should keep in mind initiatives of this nature and chart out a cohesive conservation plan, which is integrated with the future urban development plans.

There is a French couple at the door. Lorenz and Julie are young architects from France who
have received mixed reactions about India. They are curious to explore the country and
experience a different clientele. In India the obvious choice was to visit Mumbai as suggested
by a lot of their friends. They were also recommended to first go to Bandra because of its
distinct lifestyle and character. While hunting for cheap accommodation in Bandra, they
came across this charming little house on the chaotic Bazaar road. Coming from Europe they
were amazed to see the polycentric nature of the urban fabric in Mumbai and its suburbs.
Everything they needed was available right around where they lived and this held true for
any other part of the city.

After a month they were invited for an architect in residency programme at Ranwar village
close by. Ranwar is an East Indian Catholic settlement, with a 400 year odd old history that
runs parallel to Mumbai. It is a heritage precinct and one of the elderly residents started this
initiative of an architect/artist in residency in Ranwar to promote its cultural heritage. The
programme has already hosted 3 architects and 2 artists in the previous years. Lorenz and
Julie are keen to live here, curious to learn about the culture of the place, the community,
and do something to preserve and promote them.

The first few sets of architect/artist initiated workshops involved cleaning drives,
awareness drives, installations building up of street furniture and development of public
spaces. Although these programmes were well received by the residents, they still did not
lead to a substantial initiative, which could be a system in itself. Lorenz and Julie started
understanding the community with interviews, casual chats etc. to know the aspirations
they hold for their place. The initial collected data did help, but they wanted to investigate
some issues according to their process. They were at Mrs. Flanangin’s door for the same
reason. They wanted to talk to her, get to know her better and how her lifestyle has changed
along with the environment. After several such interviews they realized a few problems
that the village was facing. Taking this as a base they came up with an installation for the
village square. They also proposed for an interpretation centre in the hamlet that would help
visitors understand the place. They wanted to have solutions first for the villagers to begin
thinking in a similar manner, create awareness and generate a sense of identity for them
as a group and then move on to do something for the visitors who would come to visit the
hamlet. This could have scope to create a self sustained plan of conservation for the village.

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