Name of project: Seen UnSeen
Team: Kavita Singh Kale & Melissa Sterry
Description: Seen UnSeen explores some of the complexities of the future city. An arts / science hybrid it investigates both the tangible and intangible value - social, economic, cultural and environmental, that biodiversity brings to a city, such as Ahmadabad, in the now, near and far future.
Engaging universal language and motifs, including the Tree of Life, Seen UnSeen acknowledges that the breadth and depth of the contribution made by flora and fauna species to humanity, at both the city and global scale, is too great to represent by metrics alone.
Therein, even at early concept stage, Seen UnSeen has engaged a variety of research methods, including a brief literature review of both the scientific and spiritual significance of biodiversity in cities; a short survey of citizen values and interest in biodiversity; the creation of a mural of the tree of life on a wall adjacent to a busy city street - and observations of reactions therein; the creation of a handful of icons representing natural elements and consciousness; printing five of these icons and, with the permission of the driver, placing them on rikshaws about the city, by means of raising awareness of biodiversity and its role in the city.
The initial results from our research indicate that, regardless of demographic, the greater majority of the citizens of Ahmadabad greatly value biodiversity and its role in their life. Casual observations of several recent architectural and infrastructure developments in the city, including in the riverside area where large tracts have been cemented over, indicates that the city's biodiversity is under increasing pressure from development that is unsympathetic to the needs of flora and fauna, including the need to create shelter - such as nesting/roosting infrastructure and shade, food - including flowers and fruits, and species complexity - i.e. diverse fauna.
Seen Unseen shares some of the goals of other projects that have emerged at UnBox Labs2014, including the need for wider citizen engagement and rights concerning urban development; the need to tackle air, noise and other forms of pollution - such that damage flora, fauna and human health; the need to make urbanization culturally sensitive and heterogeneous; the dangers of assumed intelligence - particularly when applying data sets and hypothesis researched and developed elsewhere i.e., overseas.
The opportunity to come to Ahmadabad and to observe the similarities and differences with other cities known to us, highlighted the challenges and opportunities therein.
Given our shared interest in biodiversity, Ahmadabad was particularly significant, as it boasts an unusually high diversity of birds, together with a strong citizen appreciation of flora and fauna species, both wild and domesticated, i.e. the fact the city still boasts 100 of the original 600 bird feeder towers. Furthermore, the National Institute of Design campus itself has been inspiring, given its outstanding diversity of flora and fauna species.