Apsara's Utopia / Episode 1

 

Each of our collections gives birth to a neo-futuristic fiction. Our utopia. A fantasy of the society to which we aspire, recounting our quest for the ideal. This story draws on the research we have conducted and embodies the Apsara collection. We write the ode to our collection, our designer's apologue, the story of Oblique.

Discover the prologue of utopia. In 2292, the fifteenth Maharani of Jaipur inaugurated the project she led, Apsara, the solar water palace. It presents the world's most cutting-edge hydraulic research center to a group of international guests made up of public figures, partners, investors, academics, researchers and even the press...

 

  RAMBHA BAÔLI, THE INEXHAUSTIBLE STEPWELL 



The group of diners faces the Rambha baôli. It is installed at the foot of Apsara. The entire complex is intended for researchers, only the stepwell is accessible and intended to receive the public. The baôlis are very common stepwells in India, especially in the western regions of the country. These deep cavities are dug in the ground to collect water, the level of which depends on the rains. They are sources of drinking water and sacred places. They allow ablutions and ritual baths.

Unlike traditional step wells, this one is not open to the sky. From the outside, it is a huge cube of immaculate white with a flat roof on which the reflections of the sun break into a thousand shards. The white sandstone structure is surmounted by a chhatri unique, a canopy pavilion topped with a dome. Guests enter the building, guided by the 15th Maharani of Jaipur. The glass and metal front door is protected by a curvilinear eave with projecting points in red sandstone, a chhajja. Approaching the building, one can make out fine inlays of purely ornamental abstract red sandstone all over the building.

The entrance opens directly onto a very wide gallery dotted with columns that goes around the building. About fifteen meters in front, we can see the only source of light, which sparkles on the ceiling in the center of this unique room. The gallery seems plunged into darkness, even the glass of the entrance door leading to the outside is treated to stop the light. The walls are set with mosaics representing the myth of the Churning of the Sea of Milk, a cosmological episode in Hinduism. They are composed of fragments of colored glass, pieces of mirror, marble inlay and ceramic tiles... They go around the building and represent the marvelous beings born from this myth. The light is reflected on the white marble and the pieces of mirrors which contrast sharply with other tiles composed of a strange, black and matte material. 

 

The air is dense, full of humidity. Upon entering the Rambha baôli, fine droplets form on the skin. The breath slows down and becomes deeper. The Maharani wears an intricately cut jacket in cotton and linen twill, the fibers of which stretch very slightly in the humidity. Bodies grow heavy. Facial expressions relax. The gravity of the atmosphere is all the more significant as silence reigns. Apart from the breathing of the people present, we hear in the distance a slow noise, which is repeated. A circular noise, something that tirelessly draws closer and further away. The heavy air and this unknown song rock the relaxed bodies. 

Approaching the columns, we discover giant blades that spin around the central light. Their immutable movement draws a perfect circle. The upper part of the building is dazzling white illuminating the entire shaft. A tank of incredible depth interspersed with an infinity of stairs. The well is monumental, the stairs innumerable but what is most striking is their mysterious composition. It is the same obscure material as that of the mosaics. The well hopper is divided into countless floors where flights of stairs dig the walls until they reach the water. The lines of the steps, a succession of descending diagonals, recall the cutouts of the Maharani's jacket which invites us to descend to reach the water. Black water covering the bottom of the well.

From the first steps, our feet sink into this unidentified, slightly soft material. It is a bio-polymer which according to the Maharani would come from plants. As his explanations progress, we engulf ourselves in the dark cavity. The air becomes increasingly dry, the temperature rises. The heat seems to emanate from the bio-polymer. The advantage of lining the bottom of the well with this dark bed would be to warm the lower layer of air. The more his explanations become more complex, the more the air becomes arid, the more the presence of the blades twirling monotonously becomes oppressive... We finally arrive at the level of the water. It is at least 45°C. The Maharani, who is careful not to come down, encourages us to drink from the source. The hands sink into the darkness to extract the precious liquid. Once in our palms, it reveals all its clarity.

As everyone quenches their thirst, the hitherto very quiet fan seems to pick up speed. The Maharani looks at this marvelous machine with a big smile. She reaches out for her racing wings. The sculptural silhouette of her beige jacket, reminiscent of the lighter tones of local sandstone, stands out against the dark stairs. Strange vaporous threads can be discerned seeping from the galleries to the center of the room, as called by the fan. It is steam that bypasses the Maharani to concentrate above our heads. A thick fog forms, this disturbing mass reinforces the feeling of crushing provided by the heat.

Eyes turned to the sky, something hits my eye. It's a droplet. It is soon followed by thousands of others who overwhelm us. The Maharani exults. Water is falling from the ceiling of the room where a cloud has formed. It crashes into the bio-polymer and trickles down to the bottom of the well. The torrential waters raise the level of the well visibly, forcing us to climb a few steps. The rain ends up soaking us. We are at the heart of the first artificial monsoon generator. The Rambha baôli lives up to its name of inexhaustible stepwell. The Maharani offers us to visit the Apsara laboratory, the Tilottama research center, just before providing us with clothes to dry ourselves.

 

The next episode in a month.

 

  TO KNOW MORE 

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