New Delhi: The
landscape of Indian cities presents countless possibilities that
make it rife for design-related experiments by combining the old
and the new for sustainable development, says leading German
installation artist and urban designer Markus Heinsdorff.
Heinsdorff has designed the pavilions for the Oct 27-Nov4
Indo-German Urban Mela in the capital under a bilateral
initiative, "Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities".
The exposition, dedicated to city spaces, will try to address the
challenges posed by the pace of change in German and Indian cities
over nine days in the Indraprastha Park.
Analysing the landscape of Indian cities, the artist said: "Many
of the solutions lie in the architecture of urban India quite
"For instance, in the green areas in Delhi the trees lined up on
streets cast shadows. They help to keep the air clean and cool.
The design solutions in Delhi have to be specific to the needs of
the city," Heinsdorff told IANS in an interview.
"In a sense, Delhi has its own unique architectural face and this
face needs to be preserved and not lost or replaced. Delhi has so
much going for it already in its layouts and planning that there
is no need to imbibe too much from other parts of the world. It is
the uniqueness that works for the space in Delhi," he said.
"Underground trains, subways, trams and electronic buses help
reduce the volume of traffic to a great extent. In India, there is
the great legacy of bicycles and cycle rickshaws which are not
only energy-efficient, they do not add to the pollution, but save
a lot of unwanted traffic. This is something that even Europeans
are adopting now," he said.
Citing an instance of an intelligent climate solution, the artist
said when there was no electricity in India, natural cooling
systems were used.
"All in all, merging the old and the new is possible by paying
attention to the uniqueness of space and design methods of the
city," he said.
Heinsdorff said the pavilions he has designed for the Urban Mela,
which is the highlight of the Year of Germany in India, form a
little village within cities inspired by Indian gemstones -
shimmering with light, space and the grandeur of Indian wedding
"It will be like a mirror to reflect on Indian architecture as it
exists. I want to retain the traditional aspects of Indian design
and mould them into sustainable architectural solutions,"
Steel and textile membrane are the physical components of
Heinsdorff's work, while "sculptural motifs are part of the
guiding principles". "Technology is not limited to machines. The
intricacy and rigour that go into weaving fabric, as I see it in
India, is also in that sense high technology and this is part of
my architectural construct as well in India," he said.
"In theory, Germany and India can be ideal partners for each other
in urbanisation and city-planning areas and find common solutions
for future challenges. . Thus, there can be more of a discourse
between the two cultures, than a mixture. It is a mutually
beneficial platform for both the countries, learning from each
other," Heinsdorff said.
He said all new methods and practices draw from tradition. "In
keeping with the intelligent use of traditional space and
resources, we must now look at intelligent housing that uses
energy in an efficient way, combining old methods with current
"India is known as a country of rich textiles and lightweight
materials and using them for modern architecture, which is also
low-cost, is something I will be researching extensively in Indian
and German universities," he said.
"Energy and spaces will combine to minimise pollution levels,"
Heinsdorff observed, summing up the cityscape of the future.
(Madhusree Chaterjee can be contacted at email@example.com)