Authored by Nirupama Jayaraman and Sannihit Bathula
Following the kick-off presentations on 26th June, the first working day of the week-long ByPass Lab dawned rather sleepy, but much like the workshop itself picked up momentum as the day passed.
The morning session started with a lecture by Seetha Raghupathy, Senior Urban designer at AECOM, Singapore. The audience were introduced to five different perspectives, namely the planner, the city, the explorer, the curator and the user, through which one engages with a ‘Map’.
Using some telling examples, from ‘Napoleon’s 1812 March by Joseph Minard, to the London tube map by Harry Beck, to ‘I Love to you – Sharjah’ map, Ms. Raghupathy explained how maps can be experimented through creative usage of audio-visuals. The lecture also focused on how, through public participation, mapping takes on a bottom-up approach.
The lecture was followed by field preparations. Members of the core team engaged with the participants and provided guidelines with regard to ‘Theme selection’ and ‘Methodology for data collection’
Participants were divided into six teams and were given the afternoon for the first fieldwork session. They were accompanied by one member from the core team. Each of the groups had been asked to choose at least two themes and a potential site as part of studio time. They chose to explore these sites in the afternoon today.
Team A attempted to understand the layout of the industries in the peri-urban region of Chennai. They traversed the length from Sriperumbudur to SIPCOT and also around Melvaathorr Kuppam. Their objective was to explore the interaction of the rather static and (imposing) industries with their surrounding areas. The team attempted to bring their own form of mapping to the table through the abstraction of plans and sections.
Team B accompanied by Deepta Satheesh, explored the idea of porosity through various contexts. They visited areas in the vicinity of the Sriperumbudur temples and identified various elements and aspects through which porosity could be observed and explored. These included symbols, wind, water and light, edges, texture, spatial language, people and infrastructure.
Mobility was the chosen theme for Team C that explored the stretch around the State Highway 113. Accompanied by Lalit Kumar Bhati, the team wanted to understand mobility patterns along a chosen stretch. This team will potentially expand their explorations into flows and connectivities to and from the city context.
Team D started off their presentation by highlighting the discrepancy of various data sets by showing a comparison of maps from 3 different sources. The 3 maps depicted a slice of area covering Sriperumbudur and Kolathur and yet had a varying number and sizes of water bodies that were mapped on to them. The core theme of exploration for Team D is the nature of transition zones along waterbodies. Vidhya Mohankumar from the core team accompanied this team into the field and they will continue to explore how these spaces for liminality function.
Team E decided to follow the narrative of weaving as an activity in Anakaputhur. Accompanied by Abinaya Rajavelu, the team spoke to the head of the local association of the weavers. They tried to understand weaving as an activity and used it as an anchor point to understand other associated trajectories including the use of alternative materials for weaving, influence of weaving as a primary activity on the built form, influence of weaving on the prevalent social structures and also the mechanisms that allow weaving to survive in Anakaputhur amidst a rapidly urbanizing Greater Chennai region.
Team F was accompanied by Karl Beelan and attempted to uncover the flows of food in the area. From raw material to the types of dishes served in restaurants, the group explored the narrative posited by consumers.
Post the field explorations, the teams were given time to consolidate and prepare their analysis of the day’s work. After this, a debriefing session was held, which went on till midnight, proving that the Lab was intent on bypassing sleep schedules as well!
All in all a great first day!
For more information on BypassLab, visit- http://www.bypasslab.net/