Who is MOD?
MOD Institute is an international collective of architects, designers, researchers, curators and practitioners with engaged interests in, and interests for engagement with, the urbanisation processes in India. We are based in Bengaluru and Berlin.
MOD emerged out of cross-national concerns and engagements with the present state of debate about urbanisation in India and its representations in Europe. A growing discomfort with the way ‘design’ – both as an approach for making sense of one’s surroundings and the interactions with it, and also as an instrument of intervention – is practiced and talked about, necessitated the creation of mod.
The goal of MOD is to establish an integrated information platform for various kinds of data – from topographic surveys to emotional maps – on Indian cities, which will be open-source, multi-authored and open to debate/modifications. Learning to observe and describe the urban field – to demystify and to help to design them further.
The MOD Context
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 extended network of individuals and organisations to visualise urban processes and challenges so as to inform participation and intervention.
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