Speculative urban design
Pipe Dreams began as an idea to make our Indian cities more green and more inclusive. Public spaces need to be welcoming to people across socio-economic, gender, caste and age divides and design plays a vital role in this. With our increasing urban spread, we no longer have room for large parks like the Lodhi Gardens in Delhi or Vijayanagara Park in Bangalore, in the spaces in our cities where most people live. Besides, access to even the public parks we do have is strictly controlled. Parks are closed during the night. Watchmen patrol them. Additionally, my research found, the same socio-economic, gender and age divisions play out amongst the people that do occupy them.
The goal was to make a playful, speculative project that would use new technologies to make micro-parks that could be situated around the city in different formats. Hydroponics was chosen because it allows for a high level of automation in plant maintenance, and the pipes used to grow hydroponics plants could be bent and twisted into various modular examples of public furniture, allotments and installations.
An example of such furniture was built: a hydroponics chair that works as a microcosm of a garden. The chair design was inspired by sofa and easy chair designs, and is surprisingly comfortable for a chair made entirely of pipes. Its height and arm-rests make it suitable for even those with back or knee trouble. When you sit inside it, you are surrounded by plants and shaded by these pipe-trees that loom above you. You have your own private little waterfall and the sound of the water drowns the noises of the city. You lean back and for a little while, watch the world go by.
Other such hydroponics sculptures were proposed: larger public seating, a musical sculpture and an edible vertical garden on the Sabarmati riverfront.