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"Design has a communal role to help and sustain environments where everyone can enjoy its benefits"

Four students from the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, India create a innovative solution for the Coronavirus Design Competition

Tell us a little about yourself.

We are, KK Divyashri, Muskan Jain, Raghav KR and Vishesh Agnihotri, a group of friends enrolled in Third Year of Bachelors of Architecture from School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, India. Though each one of us has grown up in an urban environment, the way in which we all approach design is quite different. This helped us put diverse perspectives to common urban situations. As we consider ourselves to be on a journey to explore what is design and what design can do, we thought to partake in this competition to explore initiatives.

What inspired you to enter the coronavirus design competition?

Owing to the fact that our college closed down due to a pandemic, each one of us had a lot of time to be exposed to the various media fabrications and reports about the ongoing lockdown. As we studied different scenarios, we realised that throughout this pandemic, there have been different reactions of people towards it. Some of us were scared of food shortages and stocked up on food, some were concerned financially and looked for alternative jobs and a major portion of society showed health concerns and looked for remedies.

A degree of research analysis, resulted in us determining that the sector which is actually the worst affected is the labour class. This broadly comprised of ‘Daily Wage Labourers’, for they have lost their source of income, have to fight for food on a daily basis (as they have no work in the city), can't actually go back to their hometown or village (because transport is sealed) and live in conditions most prone for mass spreading of this virus. This subconsciously directed our design initiative and inspired us to enter this competition with a goal in our minds.

What role do you think design has in today's world?

In our understanding, the contemporary times demand Design to be realised as having a ‘Universal Responsibility’. Long gone are the days when Design and Architecture resonated with a privileged section of a society. We believe Design has a communal role to help and sustain environments where everyone can enjoy its benefits. It is beyond merely solving problems in the most efficient way, but rather having creative and sustainable intentions behind those ‘Solutions’. The world is getting exhausted with so many built forms, pushing us towards the need for re-usability and multi-functionality of existing built forms. This is something we also tried to do in our design MOBUS. 

Any closing thoughts? Anything you'd like the world to know?

While designing the MOBUS, we realized the range of effects any decision has. For example, even though a lockdown was the only solution, its approach by the people in power could have been different, as it affected a humongous population of all sorts of people. We as designers and architects also have some kind of power. We all should make use of that power wisely, keeping in mind all the consequences it may have. After all, as Uncle Ben from Spiderman said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

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