What is the right time frame?

I’ve always wondered if there is a magic time frame for projects to be both realistic as well as speculative. This afternoon, I sat through a mini talk presented by Neeraj Bhatia from The Open Workshop and one of the projects that got me thinking was Petropolis of Tomorrow. Off the coast of South-eastern coast of Brazil is a newly-discovered oil resource. A part of the design is to facilitate this inevitable encroachment into the water through a more holistic, socially-engaging, and environmentally-cautious planning. With this being the future of the next 20 years, how is the project determined? Surely, it is a long process in just research and construction phases alone. This does not take into account the time needed to convince the audience of the idea, which in many cases may take just as long as the design process.

For me, designing for the next 100 years is a simple eye-candy exercise –it’s too far-off to really see its reality. There’s a limit on how far we can see into the future, but like many past Utopian ideas, our image of the future is often crafted through our given present. So what is that ideal time-frame for a design to reside in? In my current research project, I had to choose a site that was in the middle of a long construction or one that is yet to be constructed, so that by the end of this research, the product may still be valid to some extent. So going back to the Petropolis of Tomorrow project, is 20 years enough? If the goal of the project is to create this new typology of water-oil infrastructure for Brazil, I’m not sure if it’s enough time, but maybe I am mistaken –we will see in time…




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