An Indian Student's Design Innovation For Kerala’s Flood Crisis Through A Near-Future Narrative

An Indian Student's Design Innovation For Kerala’s Flood Crisis Through A Near-Future Narrative
Penny Unni

Design and architecture hold abundant power. From creatively solving problems to designing futures, the two skills have the ability to quite realistically change the world.

A poignant example of this would be the designers and architects all over the world who are trying to pose solutions by way of rightly-designed structures and spaces to tackle the biggest threat that exists – climate change.

Penny Unni, a student of architecture at McGill University in Canada is one such individual. Originally from Kerala, she is privy to the ecological changes caused by the incessant flooding each year, and how traditional large dams may not be the solution. If anything, they may be worsening the situation. Her project, After the Flood poses design solutions to help curb flooding in an artful manner.

“I wanted to write a near-future narrative that tells a cautionary tale about Kerala if it continues to use these gigantic infrastructures as chimeric notions of technological progress and domination over the landscape. I hail from Kerala so it is a story close to my heart but I also read it as a tale about the global future told through a single object in a specific region; as a catalyst, an actor, and as a generator of stories.”

— Penny Unni

What stands out about this project is its nature – far from mainstream, it explores the mythology and technology potentials of the state. The way she examines the societal and political dynamics of Kerala is not only a novel way to portray architectural ideas, it also corroborates the thought of taking into account the personal lives of those that occupy the space.

“Speculative fictions in architecture can be an exaggerated version of the present in which we project environmental, political, economic, and cultural trends. I wanted to write this narrative through the use of hyperreal documentation based on my research to lend credibility to the fictional storyline.”

— Penny Unni

Her in-depth knowledge allowed her to keep in mind various realms of possibility, and she went on to create a near-future narrative where the current exploitation of resources results in long-term consequences.

Owing to the fact that it was schoolwork, Penny says she would have been able to address the Kerala-based audience if it wasn’t for her Canadian architecture peers.

‘After the Flood’ is a thorough and wondrous narrative of an architectural journey. Capitalising on the power of design, Penny amalgamates culture, ecology, storytelling, and architecture all into one. We could not agree more with her when she says, “We should consider the world we want to be projecting, as truly innovative architecture and design is resonant with our dreams.”

Explore After The Flood here.

Find Penny here.

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