Conviction and belief are central to every culture. Context (surroundings) is related to architecture in the same way. They are inherently congruent. The context is a part of the culture. The building of urban space leaves ‘impressions’ that relate to the cultural and economic foundations of the respective times. It is a challenge for the design disciplines to dig out these foundations and interpret them anew – to construct spaces.
Historically, the experience of urban planning in India has been one of diverse, and often unintended, results. Most Indian cities, in the process, have become like ‘palimpsests’ – manuscripts that have been written on, partially erased, re-written and so on. In these diverse cities, coherence was achieved, over time, by the interaction of the life practices of the citizens.
What surprises MOD is this magnificent ‘palimpsest’ character of Indian cities – in its built and social environments – has never been used as a design reference for urban renewal and development. Though there are multiple academic appreciation of such nature of Indian cities of past and present, there exists a huge gap between such research and actual planning and city-management practices.
Further, for the past decades Indian cities are experiencing rapid urban change which is ignorant of these built and socio-cultural ‘impressions’ accumulated through years. This irresponsible and polarising approach to urbanisation must be challenged with other initiatives for coherent (culturally, economically and ecologically) city-making. And various such initiatives are taking initial steps in cities across India. However, there cannot be any discussion about urban visions in absence of prior analysis of the present realities.
In the context of Indian cities, MOD feels an urgent need for engaged urban analytics and information visualisation, driven by the ideologies of open-source and collaboration. MOD would like to inform, support and enrich the processes of making Indian cities more inclusive and liveable by creating tool-boxes for observing, discussing, analysing and designing urban environments, along with initiatives in design-education, information visualisation and public dissemination of information.
We work independently and in collaboration with an extended network of individuals and organisations to visualise urban processes and challenges so as to inform participation and intervention.
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Fenk / Königstein: Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?; in dérive No 56: Smart Cities, 2014
Fenk / von Damm: Nextbangalore; in Revue Magazin, 2013
Lee: Marg Magazine: A Tryst with Architectural Modernity; in ABE Journal, 2013
Fenk / von Damm: Bangalore - Dimensions of a City; in: The Law of the Market, 2012
Fenk / von Damm: Was ist Stadt? Fragen an den indischen Urbanismusdiskurs; in: Gegenworte 26, 2011
Narasimhan / Fenk / Chattapadhyay: Space is the Yantra; in Urban Design 119, 2011