Apsara's Utopia / Episode 2

 

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 or its first episode. 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...

 

 TILOTTAMA, HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING LABORATORY 

 

Going to the stepwell to the palace of Apsara means walking under the blazing sun, which allows the last traces of humidity to evaporate. Visitors go to the hydraulic engineering laboratory, Tilottama, the heart of the palace. A research center dedicated to water. It has a key area with multiple mezzanines and a few open spaces on sides extending over more than 1500 m2. Apsara hosts a facility designed to accommodate engineers from around the world in the best conditions to work. The Maharani introduces us to this institute, the most cutting-edge in the field of hydraulics. The latest to join water-related centers under the auspices of UNESCO.

The ceiling has a height of around sixty meters and host a maze. Uncountable walkways and stairs connect dozens of metal platforms of various sizes. Each seems to attend an equipped workspace. Some intend for groups, others for individuals. Prestigious laboratory technicians from the most crucial water research centers worldwide work and wander around. They come from the Water Center for Sustainable Development and Adaptation to Climate Change in Belgrade; the Regional Center for Urban Water Management in Tehran; or the Regional Center for Aquifer Management of Tripoli, to name a few.

The eyes are captivated first on the floating network above heads, almost chimerical, worthy of an Escher’s illusion. At that point, an intense light relentlessly attracts them. Eyes slightly squinted, the guests discover amazed a gargantuan jali. A cut-out metal screen extends to the ceiling of the room. These stone-carved windows were initially for zenanas, Muslim palaces for harems, allowing women to observe the outside world without being seen. This one fulfills the sole function of protecting from the natural elements while allowing air circulation. The metal screen has multiple organic shapes cut. When looking carefully, the claustra seems alive. The openings composing it expand in some places and contract in others, altering the amount of light that enters the open space. It is as if the jali were breathing. The Maharani explains the jali is an autonomous installation composed of photoelectric cells allowing a dosage of light depending on the sunshine.

jali-illustration_utopia__apsara_ss22__guimet_mnaag

Openwork screen [jali], North India, Rajasthan, second half of the 18th century, pink sandstone, Nation Museum of Asian Arts - Guimet, Paris, France.

 

A young man approaches with a marble tray with limpid bubble-like capsules. The Maharani grabs one of them. His membrane contracts slightly under the pressure of her fingers. She plunges it elegantly into her mouth. The membrane is composed of edible, gelled algae disintegrating in the palate to release the water it traps. My attention shifts away from the Maharani's explanations and lingers on the intricate sleeve of her jacket. Just like some other guests, the Maharani has changed herself. The sleeve is an intricate-cut job. The cuff finish is detached from the rest of the sleeve and seems lifted. It reminds me of the countless catwalks above, on which my gaze roamed.

The Maharani presents projects about hydraulic energy, hydrology, hydrogeology, and even hydromechanics in the laboratory. Innovations related to drinking water access arouse the most interest. The Maharani has individual purification, desalination, and filtration systems. Each aims for energy self-sufficiency, or for the least energy-consuming operation possible. In the back of the laboratory, three 3D printers work tirelessly to produce chlorine injectors. A low-tech innovation to disinfect and purify water. Each home in the region receives one, to fight the drought raging again with violence.

A Ghanaian microbiologist and a Lebanese engineer are carrying the most promising innovation. She studies a unicellular biological organism, with an unpronounceable name. He is a specialist in capturing hydrogen in the atmosphere. This duo met during their studies at the private University of Jaipur founded by the father of the Maharani. They aim to develop a manual atmospheric water sensor. The young researcher picks up a stainless steel tube lying on the desk, their recently completed prototype. She unscrews it to present the lower part to the assembly to reveal an empty receptacle. The sensor locates at the top. She screwed the tube back on before shaking it vigorously for a few minutes. She ends her demonstration by presenting the receptacle filled with water, before drinking the contents. Several guests try the experiment and drop in the water harvested by the sensor. During this time, the Maharani evokes the possibilities that such a technology would offer on a larger scale.

We are then directed to the stairs to reach the maze of walkways. We encounter several researchers who present their projects, each more ambitious than the next. We rise this mazelike course. Around us, finely sculpted honeycomb walls alternate between red sandstone, sandblasted pink sandstone, and white marble. From behind, the Maharani gracefully leads the group. Her jacket, particularly the hanging yoke at the shoulders, dialogues with the succession of arches. We then arrive at the most elevated platform leading to the solar ramparts of Apsara.

 

 

The next episode in a month.

 

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