Packaged dreams: Designs that lure you away from reality

Monday, 21 November 2011 - 5:50pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
Decades of seventies and eighties in the last century were characterised by architectural renderings that tried to simulate the scenario of the proposed development once realised.

Decades of seventies and eighties in the last century were characterised by architectural renderings that tried to simulate the scenario of the proposed development once realised. Naturally, driven essentially by the market forces, the images had to do little with reality and instead more with the perception of reality - the make-believe world.

Non-architectural professionals, often the elevation makers, perspective drawer and the rendering artists were employed at premium for their skills of creating lively images. It was the consolidation phase of what started in sixties and seventies as a catalogue of do it yourself home designs.

The depiction of proposed developments often project an oasis, by way of water bodies with swans, swimming pools, enviable green grass cover, imported cars, young girl holding balloons, picture postcard blue sky and highly synthetic wall finishes —most of which even the buyer knew is not going to exist. In that sense there was honesty in this dishonesty. No legal suits were envisaged as it was taken as almost like figure of speech, not meant to read between lines.

Few decades later the fashion seems to have returned sans its innocence. Elevation makers strike back now with the vengeance. They are a full-fledged service in this era of globalisation and manufactured aesthetics. As end resolution is largely an outcome of standardised, mass pre-manufactured components and standardised assembly; they have resulted in nearly universal and sadly banal, skin deep two dimensional aesthetics.

The facade generators or elevation makers are often engaged either by the professional firm or their back offices as material vendors to prepare alternative permutations. Paper thin surface composition has nothing to do with spaces, situation or the concepts within. Naturally it is not an offspring of the high philosophy.

The major difference between 'Then and Now' has been of course the rendering technology with softwares generating sophisticated real life 3D images, as make believe depiction of scenarios. This is not really the issue. The issue is that these are implied to be the real.  Cheating is on the agenda under the disguise of realism.

Distorted views, pirated images, un common view points and subtly portrayed associations are cunningly used as packaging to simply win over customer initially through visual perception rather than merit of design or philosophy of development. It is a vicious circle of depicting glamour in rendering the product and rendering depictions through producing glamour.

The current sequel of exhibitions of renderings of Riverfront development and civic spaces reminded one back of the eighties-the era of skin deep renderings. The difference was that small girl with balloon was replaced by the popular characters with camera.

Dry concrete walls pasted with vernacular torans using' Control C command', or garba around trees with temple without social life elements, intended bazaar life without true activity generators, lack of street furniture and yet pasting of human being on empty canvas to portray humaneness and vitality of spaces shrouds suspicion on their true intentions. It is not even subtle as "Narova
kunj rova".

Some canvases depicting spaces with wash of hugely eco enemy grass-lawns to show sophistication of developments, crowding of people to depict life, planting of cute development slogans to wash off the guilt and dash of festivity and religious symbols for associational charge and authentication of vernacular etc. seem far from the innocence of purpose or honesty of development visions that stem from genuine civic or environmental concerns.

The author is a city-based architect and historian

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