Dear India: You do not need your own Dubai.

I can't be the only person who's bored to death with videos like the one here, screenshot'd above, for the Nanocity deveopment north of New Delhi, can I? Obviously, the presentation, with its sweeping aerials and zooming close-ups of crystalized placeholders for buildings is intended to impress.

And yet.

After Masdar, and the Palm Islands, and that insipid Koolhaas Death Star development, these "impressive" videos have become mundane, commonplace. There is the slight tweak to the trope, in this case, of the development's being located in India. Still, knowing what little I do of India's wild and dynamic culture, the change of location actually generates more disgust for the project. Here is a sanitized, plagiarized version of Next Generation Urban Density™ for yet another developing country.

The most irksome thing about these kind of developments is that they completely ignore existing infrastructure. Why not propose a radical rethinking of actual New Delhi neighborhoods by drawing on Indian cultural and building traditions? Dubai is a lost cause, but India has no need to go down this road. In twenty years these generic ecocities are going to look like 1960s housing projects in the US look now: like a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad idea. Building an eco-city from scratch is like burning down your house to get the kitchen stove lit.

So a plea to Indian developers and financiers looking to develop their cities in the coming decades: Dubai is not a model. It is a warning sign. Take heed.


Quixote said...

Yes, no more Dubai's please, but that's not really what Nanocity is shooting for. The video hypes their good design practices (mixed use, parks, etc), rather than the newest, bestest phallus on the block today.

The housing project is certainly apt though...a pure top-down design process at the city level is disturbingly authoritarian and I am skeptical that it can at all replicate what emerges naturally in cities. I hope they just try to zone and control development direction as people come, rather than roll a whole city off one architect's sketches.

mlj said...

Hear hear. Let's hear it for the local approach.

Dubai Web Design said...

It is known that the mona lisa cannot be duplicated because it is a masterpiece. Once a master piece has been produced, theres not going back and making it the same, and doing so will raise questions. But personally, Im actually pretty excited to see new developments that can compete with dubai. I say, let them at it, let them battle against the estates!

-Frank Y