Architecture

B.V DOSHI : FIRST INDIAN RECIPIENT OF THE PRITZKER PRIZE

Last month, Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi received the Pritzker Prize for architecture, making him the first Indian recipient of the prestigious award

WORDS: REVATI RAJWADE

balkrishna-doshiBALKRISHNA Vithaldas Doshi, 90, is a name that will go down in history as the first Indian to receive the Pritzker Prize – a pinnacle in architecture. Much has been written about his life, career and works since this announcement and it is undoubtedly a fascinating story of humility and sheer expertise in the field.
His accomplishments have raised him to a towering pedestal in the eyes of the general public. It is not improbable to imagine an architect at the core of ‘building’ India. Looking at the larger picture, the country has a lot to gain and learn from this momentous event of March 07, 2018.
Doshi’s work speaks volumes about the type of principled and design oriented architecture that India needs and its importance in nation building.
A design philosophy which nurtures nature, respects indigenous styles, promotes experimentation and evolution of design has received the highest architecture accolade.
A man behind the conception of India’s leading design institutes has joined the ranks of the greatest recognised architects of the world. It is about time that India shuns the frenzy of ‘globalisation’ of architecture, which is hardly endemic and which promotes glass façades and then uses water saving sanitary fixtures for sustainability.
B.V Doshi’s work depicts the need to respect and follow the ideals of the architectural ideology that we already possess. We as a country need to start respecting professionals who voice opinions that are politically incorrect and against the current tide of the real estate boom which is, ironically, in no way aligned to the National Mission of Housing for All -2022.
Barrier-free public spaces and amenities need to be given priority above infrastructure whose birth lies in symbolism and appeasing masses for political gain. Doshi’s work spectrum can be a model scheme for tangible and intangible aspects of our country’s built environment and the areas encompassing it.

amdavad-ni-gufa

His designs show borrowed concepts from our architectural heritage and its seamless adaption to the present. They lack extravagant elevational features such as RCC cantilevered pergolas, which crown a building to ensure that it screams for an obnoxious identity amidst the other non-contextual built forms surrounding it.
To further illustrate the relevance of Doshi’s work in today’s times, let us enumerate some of his design features from key projects. The spirit of experimentation is rife in the ‘Amdavadni Gufa,’ which surely must not have had a reference image during concept finalisation.
In contrast, even the largest of our uber luxurious townships are based on the streetscapes of Paris and New York and lack originality in every sense of the term.

In his Sangath project, indirect and diffused light has been drawn into even the innermost spaces of the office areas, making it a forerunner in climatology. The usage of a curtain wall using the rat trap bond provides success in keeping the interiors of his house cooler in the formidable summers and warmer in winters.
This is well in advance, prior to the advent of ‘green architecture’. These minute design details and thought processes form the premise of the macro level planning required for formulating schemes and building infrastructure for a modern India in these difficult times.
To sum it all up in a few words is his own quote: “I think architecture is a matter of transformation. Transformation of all adverse situations into favourable ones.”

SHANIWARWADA, PUNE A wonderful monument

Shaniwarwada in Pune, which has been featured in films of late, was a majestic residence for the Marathas who ruled over much of India during the 18th century. The fort continues to attract visitors today, though it underwent a lot of neglect in the past

WORDS: N.B. RAO

shaniwar_one
shaniwarwadas

BUILT way back in 1732 as a home for Bajirao I, a Maratha prime minister who expanded the empire across India, Shaniwarwada, the historic fort in Pune, is an architectural wonder. The fort, located right at the heart of modern-day Pune, was a celebrated monument during the glorious Maratha era in the 18th century.
Unfortunately, after the Marathas lost to the British in the third Anglo-Maratha war in 1818, the East India Company took over Shaniwarwada; about a decade later, it was destroyed by an unexplained fire, got neglected over the next few decades and lost its prominence.
The marvelous fort, however, has been revived of late and attracts thousands of visitors from all over India and even other parts of the world.
Every February, from 2001 onwards, the fort hosts the classical dance festival. This year, it showcased classical BhartaNatyam dancers and Gotipua dancers from Odisha. Hundreds of visitors attend these shows each year.

CENTRE OF MARATHA POLITICS
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) oversees the monument, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India as a Grade I monument. The seven-storeyed palace was the centre of Maratha politics for decades.
The fort was built as the mansion for the prime minister of the Maratha empire and cost more than Rs 16,000, a whopping sum in 1732. It was home to a thousand people and more than 3,000 guards protected it from invading enemies.

The Marathas ruled over much of India from the mid-17th century and their architecture was known for simplicity and austere aesthetics. Shaniwarwada was influenced both by the Mughal and Maratha architectural style. The palace featured fountains, mahals (including Ganesh and Rang mahals), mirrors (Aarsa Mahal), a Diwan Khana and a Hasti Dant (elephant tusk), besides sprawling gardens and courtyards.
The main gate of Shaniwarwada is the Delhi Darwaja, soaring at 21 ft. It features metal spikes built to take on invaders and enemies. Other gates at the fort include the Mastani, Khidki, Ganesh and Narayan Darwajas.
The urban fortification has seen tough times from the beginning with palace plots, murders, fires and other disasters. The palace has, however, gained prominence off late, especially after filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali came out with his hugely popular film, Bajirao Mastani.
Dubbed as ‘Pune’s Pride,’ the fort is today witnessing a lot of interest and the authorities too have spent significantly in ensuring that the sprawling gardens and fort infrastructure are well-maintained.
The PMC recently decided that it would continue to host cultural and other programmes within the historic site.

shaniwar_wada_
shaniwar

Powering a greener tomorrow: SUZLON ONE EARTH

Appropriate for a wind energy company, Suzlon’s corporate HQ is one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world, with shaded windows, solar water heating, grey water recycling and natural air circulation systems, writes

WORDS: Rinku Banerjee

show_img-12
suzlon-one-earth

PICTURE this. A world-renowned renewable energy company with a strong commitment to sustainability and focus on the environment plans to sets up its global headquarters in Pune, India. As part of the growing number of global corporations having sensitively designed buildings that reflect their values, concerns for the environment and the image of a new age, the brief to the architect firm was simple: the building must reflect the company’s core ethos, ‘powering a greener tomorrow.’ Together, after many deliberations, a blueprintwas designed to build the greenest building in India using the most modern renewable methods available. Of course, apart of being sustainable and iconic, the building would also have to beemployeefriendly and be an encouraging, invigorating environment for those working there. This gave rise to the idea of One Earth by Suzlon – a company reckoned with being India’s foremost name in wind turbine energy. The architect firm CCBA or Christopher Charles Benninger Architects, Pune was the chosen design firm that was to build and implement this dream landmark.
Suzlon One Earth derives its inspiration from large Indian historical campuses like FatehpurSikri and the Meenakshi

show_img
blue-print
suzlon-one

Temple complex in Madurai. Both employ an inter-positioning of open and closed spaces that balances one another. Both have strong horizontal elements that tie the complexes together and accent features that emphasize quadrants and sacred places, like the gopura at Meenakshi. The Panch Mahal at FatehpurSikri is a multi-storied structure that maintains its scale through the employment of modular construction, whose components are expressed, imparting the structure scale and proportions. In these historical precedents there are also water bodies and open courtyards, as in Suzlon One Earth! Ground level pavilions and arcades open into the courts and allow “borrowing” of visual experiences. These great campus complexes inspired the architecture as a starting point.
The design process started with a premise of creating a central gathering space, or Brahmasthan, with the sky as its ceiling! Adds Christopher Benniger, “I conceived it as a “secret internal garden” that gifts an exclusive and unique feel to the campus. It is a pedestrian, human and convivial space. Vehicles are relegated to the ex-There is visual access to the large central gardens from everywhere.They act as visual connectors between all floors and allow aeration of the basement parking area.”
The Deepa Stambh is set in the centre of the Suzlon reflecting pool. The pool rests at the basement level, wherein all of the cafeteria and the dining room open onto the water. In the background, these see a cascade of water falls, flying down three levels of tiers, with traditional step-like objects giving rhythm to the backdrop. A long water basin feeds the water falls through a pumping system. The lineal basin links the Brahmasthal to a fountain toward the east. These auspicious components protect the campus from unwanted influences and create a central focus and landmark. They bring very Indian features within a very global, high-tech ambiance. Large water body in the central court helps in improving the air quality and for evaporative cooling. All the external landscape areas are brought into the indoors along the perimeter of the building bringing fresh air, nature and natural light into the work areas so as to improve productivity of occupants. This central garden plaza encourages communication, interaction and innovation among the 2300 colleagues and provides a stunning aesthetic presentation for visitors.

A million square feet of ground plus two levels in a 10.4 acre urban setting achieved a LEED Platinum and TERI GRIHA 5 Star certification with 8% of its annual energy generated on-site through photovoltaic panels and windmills with a total incremental cost of about 11%. There are no other LEED certified buildings with this level of certification and on-site renewable energy that have achieved this kind of cost efficiency. 154 KW of electricity is produced on site (80% wind and 20% photovoltaic). All other energy (4MW) is produced in the client’s wind mill farms. With 92% (4 MW) being consumed by the project is ‘sustainable energy’ making this a Zero Energy Project!

The Wind lounge is one of the five “lounges” that connect exterior spaces with interior ones. This is the centre of the corporate learning centre, or the Suzlon Excellence Academy. Here one finds a wind museum and a wind library. There is a very traditional Indian Chowk here, with kund-like steps leading into a water pool shaded by photovoltaic panels allowing filtered light in, as if through an ancient jaali. This is a centre where wind meets humanity very emphatically through empirical analysis, exploration and education. The structure is not just a collection of rooms, but rather like an art gallery where one can explore on their own in a serendipity manner. One can step into the theatre and view a film; retreat into the library and read; saunter through the museum and learn something new each day; browse the Wind Shop and buy some interesting sustainable keepsake; or, just sit interacting with friends and colleagues in the central meeting Chowk. This is more like an informal gallery of the mind than like a corporate institute.
Drawing clues from vernacular architecture, while respecting nature and culture, this sustainable and efficient design provides 75% of the work stations with daylight and external views, allowing inhabitants to enjoy seasons, weather conditions and to connect with the time of the day. Tulsi R. Tanti, founder, Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon Group said: “Suzlon One Earth is one of the most successful green projects in the world. It brings together

innovative approaches towards energy efficiency and sustainable infrastructure to make our vision of sustainable development a reality.
Aluminum louvers act as a protective skin allowing daylight and cross ventilation. All areas have operable fenestration allowing natural air and ventilation when possible.
These strategies resulted in lower, thinner and longer building shapes that increase the ratio of fenestration to volume, enhancing natural light and ventilation in a hot and dry climatic conditions.
The building employs a complex building management systems. Lighting of individual offices is controlled by combined daylight and occupancy sensors.
Sixty five percent of energy is saved by use of LED outdoor light systems in comparison to conventional scheme. Thirty to 40% reduction in operating cost, due to energy savings and water savings at 30%.

GREEN FEATURES OF ONE EARTH:-
» 100% powered by on-site and off-site renewable energy including hybrid wind turbines, solar panels and photovoltaic cells
» Rainwater harvesting facilities with on-site water treatment and recycling facilities
» On-site organic waste converter
» ‘Office in garden’ design concept which harvests maximum daylight in work spaces and common areas
» Reduction of approximately 35% in operating cost due to energy and water cost savings, a benefit that is transferred to customers through increased investment in technology
The name One Earth was derived as a dedication to our home, Mother Earth highlighting earth’s unique existence as an eco-system. It also reinforces Suzlon’s belief that coexistence and responsible usage of natural resources are the only ways to achieve sustainability.
It is also devoted to Suzlon’s efforts across the globe to create a sustainable future.I employed “earth design,” not a branding exercise or symbolic gesture, but because it is inherent in every aspect of the work. By Earth Design we mean more than what is meant by just a rated Green building or a Platinum LEED structure! We mean a design that puts people first and close to nature. Everyone can sense the seasons and the time of the day from their place of work!

show_img_one
show_img-18
show_img-8
show_img-16

There is visual access to the large central gardens from everywhere. There is a sense of connection between the various kinds of spaces right from the underground entries vide the sunlight that descends there from the Sky Courtsand the Glass Cylinders and the vegetation that flows from these elements, up through the cylinders into the main circulation nodes of the building.”
Instead of a tall, glass box on a congested site, it is spread out in the form of a campus, centered on a generous garden, accented by water streams leading to a magnificent water fall, nurturing a crescent reflecting pool

that holds a contemporary Deepastambha, an obelisk holding hundreds of lamps emitting positive energy! Three glass chimneys, facilitated by “sky courts” suck air out from the basement. These iconic motifs, and the main corporate atrium, are all aligned with the Deepastambha, acting as focal points in the lush, green garden. The Corporate Atrium reflects this idea with a large circular enclosed glass garden from which the campus water emanates and flows. While building a Green Building complex, was a matter of civic responsibility, the objective of the design was to make a great place to Work.

This took the shape of a Land Scraper, opposing the idea of a Skyscraper! It is a counter blast to “the glass box.”
Says Christopher, “As a designer I worked more like a choreographer of a film, working out sequential movements through space, inter-locking spaces, integrating spaces and seeing what the impact of a space is on the person kinetically moving within and through the spaces. It is really this “human-context engagement” that is the core of the design and this is what is “earthy” about it. We have maintained a strong primordial link between man and nature.”

Home Architecture – Coming Of Age

The dramatic transformation being witnessed in urban India has given rise to a new breed of architects, who are catering to the needs of the new buyers and users

WORDS: TEAM URBAN VAASTU

stone-staircase
stone-staircase_one

HOME architecture in India is evolving dramatically, as architects, designers, home buyers and even developers are adapting the new trends that are transforming the segment.
Technological development, environmental factors and the reality of modern urbanisation have had their impact on architecture as a whole. As Prof Jason Pomeroy, the Singapore-based award-winning architect, academic and TV personality, told an Indian newspaper recently sustainable design seeks to minimise waste and redundancy in the design of spaces, structure and water and energy requirements.

“The traditional vernacular architecture of India is replete with techniques that we can borrow and apply today,” he told The Statesman newspaper recently. “Not only can these techniques, when applied today, reduce energy use, they can help reduce pollution and waste. So, the basics are there in terms of local vernacular architectural techniques. But the next phase is in persuading developers, policy-makers and citizens that sustainable architecture will not only help combat climate change, but will result in more pleasant, liveable cities.”

Huge opportunities
Apurva Bose Dutta, an architect and writer, in a recent piece on ‘The Changing Culture of Architecture in Modern India’ in Archinect, points out that India’s growing economy and population has led to enormous housing needs, driving the extent of architectural work and creating massive opportunities in the country.
“It is also one of the reasons why the number of foreign architectural firms working in India has increased. In the aftermath of cities burdened by the lack of infrastructure, the opportunity to design and make a difference in India has become immense. This has also led to the increasing number of Indian architects, who, after receiving their architectural education overseas, have returned to India to practice and be a part of the shift the country is going through,” she writes.

interior-garden

Many architects also fear that pressure on space, especially in large cities, is forcing builders to get maximum returns on their investments; designs and other aesthetic matters are given a back-seat in the process.
But Chirag Jain, a leading architect from Mumbai, addressing a seminar – Recent Trends in Architecture – at Chandigarh recently said architecture must be rooted in its context and engage with construction technology, the local culture and climate and also consider the needs and socio-economic priorities of the people.
India’s urban architecture is expected to see dramatic changes over the coming years, especially with the government focusing on its Smart Cities Mission.

The bold new initiative of the government aims to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life by enabling local area development and harnessing technology to develop ‘smart’ outcomes.
Under the plan, area-based development will transform existing areas, including slums, into better planned ones, to ensure improved liveability. New areas will be developed around cities to accommodate rising population.
Of course, smart cities would have core infrastructure elements including:
» Adequate water supply
» Assured electricity
» Sanitation, including solid waste management

» Efficient urban mobility and public transport
» Affordable housing, especially for the poor
» Robust IT connectivity and digitalisation
» Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation
» Sustainable environment
» Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly
» Health and education
The surge in development of smart cities is expected to boost the need of services from urban architects, many of who are expected to come out with unique designs to match the vibrant architecture of the new cities.

wood-paneled-ceiling

Earth Architecture is here to stay

The world is quietly screaming sustainability to survive longer. For some countries, sensitivity to the environment is the new norm. For others, adopting sustainable method towards building and construction is a slow but fruitful realisation. Auroville Earth Institute in Puducherry is quietly shaping a new Earth revolution. Team Urban Vaastu finds out…

shutterstock_1010248480
shutterstock_449888506

AT a time when the world is slowly waking up to the disastrous effects of indiscriminate urbanisation and unplanned concretisation, the Auroville Earth Institute is trying to make a difference by re-introducing elements from Mother Earth that are sustainable and sensitive to the environment.
As per historical records, it was in the 20th century that we really let go of our medieval roots and our deeper connection with our Earth to make ‘modern, fashionable’ buildings and infrastructure that spoilt and abused the environment. Even today, every single continent, and nearly every country, possesses a rich heritage of earthen buildings – from the roof of the world in Tibet, or the Andes Mountains in Peru, to the Niles shore in Egypt or the fertile valleys of China, many are the examples of earth as a building material. With the world’s awareness for sustainable development growing for the past few decades thanks to the ill-effects of greenhouse gases and the depletion of the ozone, sustainable building is slowly becoming a norm and more and more architects and developers are veering towards earthern architecture and construction, which benefits now from scientific researches.

One such example is the Auroville Earth Institute in Auroville (AVEI), Puducherry, in Tamil Nadu that was set up by HUDCO, the Government of India in 1989 to research, develop, promote and transfer earth-based, sustainable building technologies. The Institute’s core objective is to teach budding architects and builders the importance of linking ancestral and vernacular traditions of raw earth construction with the modern technologies of stabilised earth. This technical education is then imparted through training courses, seminars, workshops, books and manuals and, research based documents. Today, such trainings on sustainable development in buildings is imparted through services and consultancy within and outside India.
For Satprem Maini, a French architect, rediscovering ‘earth architecture’ is the process of understanding and re-using techniques that were used by our ancestors in the making of dwellings and homes. Living in Auroville since 1989, Satprem is the director of AEI. “Across the world, there are numerous examples of earth construction. And there is a remarkable balance and harmony of these buildings with the landscape and the surrounding environment,” says Satprem.

Satprem specialises in the use of raw earth as a building material and especially compressed stabilised earth blocks (CSEB). He has also specialised in the construction of arches, vaults and domes built with earth, disaster resistance with CSEB and earthen heritage conservation. The CSEB, designed by Satprem, are made by mixing earth with sand and stabilised with 5 per cent cement. This mix is then compressed in a manual press. The blocks are energy effective as the process does not require burning. It is also cost effective since a plain block is 23.6 per cent cheaper than regular bricks. But the concept is yet to gain prominence in India. “In India, the main challenge is to change the mindset of people and make them to understand and accept the concept of Earth Architecture. People think that this type of architecture may not be long-lasting. But that is not true,” he says. The Auroville Earth Institute’s core mission is to demonstrate that earth, as a building material, can be used to create modern, progressive, eco-friendly and safe habitats. Sunayana Basu, an architect from Kolkata who has trained at the Institute adds, “One of the reasons I took up a course at Auroville Earth was because they teach and practice

shutterstock_535740604
shutterstock_681471253

sustainable resource management for both human and natural resources. Interestingly, they help teach the use of our most basic natural ingredient – raw earth using cost effective technologies, affordable to all. This empowers people to build their own dwellings using natural techniques which is good for the environment around them as well.” Raw earth for building has been used worldwide for millennia but during the 20th century most of the skills of earth builders were lost and building with earth became marginal. Through the endeavour of the Auroville Earth Institute, Auroville is today reviving these traditional skills and demonstrating that earth is a noble building material which can be used for manifesting modern, harmonious and progressive architecture for the third millennium. Today Sunayana teaches and imparts these natural techniques to her juniors as well in her projects in the red earth rich region of West Bengal. She also works very closely with villagers to help them use these technique to build low cost houses without any impact to the environment.
The technologies taught at the Auroville Earth Institute include Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB) walls, Hollow Interlocking (HI CSEB) walls for disaster resistance, CSEB arches, vaults and domes, Stabilised Rammed Earth Foundations (SREF), Stabilised Rammed Earth Walls (SREW), Earth composite technologies for columns and beams, Stabilised earth waterproofing, plasters and mortars, etc. The most promoted AVEI technology today is Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks. CSEB is a modern, cement or lime stabilised advance upon traditional building methods, which was developed in the 1950’s for structural, load-bearing strength and resilience against climate. CSEB may be compressed either with a manual or a hydraulic press and stabilised with as little as 5 per cent

cement to produce structural masonry units with greater strength and longevity than the average country fired brick. AVEI has designed a whole range of machinery for producing CSEB, including manual and hydraulic presses.
From the early days of Auroville, in the 1970’s, different experiments have been made with earth building, with mixed results. Those of us who have visited Auroville and marvelled at the free spaces there can now realise that what they saw was built from the earth they walked on. The creation of the Auroville Earth Institute in 1989, the construction of the Visitors’ Centre from 1989 to 1992 and the development of Vikas Community from 1992 to 1998, started a new era in earthen architecture in Auroville. Built of compressed stabilised earth blocks, it demonstrated the potential of stabilised earth as a quality building material. Today, Auroville can show a wide variety of earthen projects: public buildings, schools, apartments and individual houses.

Earth Based Technologies
Most of the technologies developed are mastered and the present research is focussed on alternative stabilizers to cement and alternative waterproofing with stabilized earth, composed of soil, sand, cement, lime, alum and tannin.
The following technologies have been mastered and are disseminated since years:
Stabilised rammed earth foundations with 5 % cement
– Stabilised rammed earth walls with 5 % cement, rammed manually
– Composite plinth – step plinth with CSEB, plinth beam with reinforced concrete cast in U shaped CSEB
– Composite columns – Round hollow CSEB with reinforced cement concrete
– Composite beams and lintels – U shaped CSEB with reinforced cement concrete

- Wide variety of compressed stabilised earth blocks (17 moulds are presently available for producing about 75 different types of blocks)
– Various vaults with compressed stabilised earth blocks
– Stabilized earth mortars and plasters

The following technologies are still under research and they will be disseminated only once mastered:
– Composite blocks (earth, fibres and stabilizer)
– Alternative stabilizers to cement (“homeopathic” milk of lime and alum)
– Alternative water proofing with stabilized earth (soil, sand, cement, lime, alum and tannin from the juice of a seed)

Since 1996, the Auroville Earth Institute, which is now representative for Asia of the UNESCO Chair “Earthen Architecture”, has been developing an earthquake-resistant technology with hollow, interlocking CSEBs. This technology was used extensively in Gujarat after the 2001 earthquake and received approval from the Gujarat and Tamil Nadu state governments as well as the Iranian government.
The Auroville Earth Institute is currently planning a major initiative for the extension of its educational programs and facilities. The new facilities are now being designed to meet the increasing demand for education in earth technologies, and to make a greater impact on affordable, sustainable, climate resilient housing in India and globally. AVEI will introduce 1-year diploma programs for post-graduate students of architecture and engineering, masonry technicians, and vocational masonry craftsmen.
Through the endeavour of the Auroville Earth Institute, Auroville is today reviving these traditional skills and demonstrating that earth is a noble building material which can be used for manifesting modern, harmonious and progressive architecture for the third millennium.

Green buildings require an integrated design approach

HM Architects is an Ahmedabad-based multi-disciplinary design studio, which specialises in architecture and interior designing and has built a distinguished corpus of work. An interview with Harshad Mistry, partner, HM Architects.

WORDS: STHAPATI

What new trends do you see emerging in 2018 and over the coming years?
The trends are different in each segment that we design for – high-end bungalows to affordable housing apartments to commercial buildings. Hence, trends are difficult to generalise but we can look at them separately.
Trends vary based on changes in regulations or sentiments of investors/actual buyers. Commercial buildings are the most affected by changes while high-end bungalows are the least. To understand the trend, we have to understand the present and the past as well.
Financial perspective: Investments in real estate have not appreciated in the recent past as compared to equity markets; they both share a very close relationship. This has significant impact on investors as well as actual home/property buyers – in the way they want to park their money.
Sensex and Nifty are at all-time highs with returns up to 30% in the last year. While there is a trend of excessive cash inflow into equity market, the rate is proportionately lesser in real estate markets. Cheaper loans from banks should encourage young buyers to take the plunge as it leads to reduced EMIs. Prices are expected to remain stagnant.
Regulations: RERA’s impact had cautioned the developer community in the beginning. The projects that we do are already RERA compliant. We saw excessive number of projects coming to us for design before implementation of RERA and a lot of them did not materialise even after their design was complete.
Basically, there was a slow down last year, especially from smaller and new developers, as they wanted to check the impact of RERA. We expect that many of those clients looking to ‘wait and watch’ will gain confidence from others and come forward in 2018 – after all no one can sit idle with money for long.
RERA brings in more transparency to buyers. The Supreme Court has taken strict action against developers defaulting on their commitments. Hence these changes will encourage buyers – give them more confidence that there is someone working for their interests.
The new General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) for Gujarat launched last year resulted in changes in some projects. We expect 2018 to be streamlined after some hiccups of 2017.
Buyer’s perspective: There seems to be an increasing demand for affordable housing – value for money – from for home-buyers. It generates employment for the youth, which is good news. We expect that to continue with government preparing its last full budget before general elections.
People tend to prefer high-rise multi-apartment schemes with lot of amenities, which cater to the needs of the family.
Construction technology: People are moving towards alternative construction technology apart from conventional cast-in-situ RCC construction. People are exploring other models – precast/prefab construction, column free structure, etc.

What are your views on the emerging green building concept?
Green building design deals with the way of life in which both the occupants and environment stay healthy. Putting green roof and wall does not make a building green – or for that matter painting the wall green – they can be counter-productive if not executed well; eg it could be water intensive.
For a city like Ahmedabad, shading is far more important than green roofs and walls. Simply look at green curtains that people put up during summer outside their windows and balconies; the façade never looks the same.
Green buildings require an integrated design approach with active involvement from all the stakeholders including clients, consultants and contractors. There is an increasing awareness in certain pockets about green buildings but there is a long way to go.
However, there is no doubt that we have to adopt the concept and create exemplary buildings for others to follow. Clients and occupants have been benefitting from them greatly.
We are trying out wherever we can. We see ‘Vaastu’ being implemented without ‘Shastra’, which leads to counter-intuitive designs – one cannot use principles without understanding the context. With so much technology and computing power available these days, we need more incorporation of science in buildings. Buildings have to evolve.

What changes do you foresee in designing following technology revolution?
We have already initiated certain changes in the way conventional architectural practices run. We believe that those changes will be implemented on a wider scale.

thumb_img

Technology can be soft or hard – everything impacts the design.
Design visualisation: We create detailed 3D models of all the projects – architecture or interior – so that there is complete clarity from day one for us, client and contractors.
We can visualise the entire building and spaces easily rather than client having to understand innumerable sections and elevations. It streamlines the entire construction process, leaving more time for productive work. Delivered project also closely resembles the 3D. This process will see industry wide application.

commercial_extol_2
commercial_orbit_2_1
apartment_oeuvre_2

Building information modeling: Use of BIM has been increasing and we use it a lot for our projects. We look forward to further integration of our work flow. It improves project delivery time and the client is always happy with that. We will see more and more integration of the entire process in many kinds of projects. People are becoming computer literate.
Building analysis and software: – A lot of tools are available to analyse design before construction. For instance, evaluating the impact of shading system on solar heat gain inside the building, daylighting availability, energy-savings

due to various parameters; all these enable us to take better design decisions. However, clients must be ready to appreciate and utilise the importance of these services. It will take some time. It will also change the character (all-glass, little shade) of the building that people aspire based on Western influence. Even the West realizes that such designs don’t work. It will bring about sensible climate-responsive buildings which occupants appreciate for their comfort and well-being, rather than acting as a fancy piece of art (if we can call it that).
Construction: Faster and less labour intensive construction

technology will have to be adopted considering the shortage of labour that industry faces (among other problems). It has tremendous advantages and scalability.
Many people are experimenting at various levels and there are companies successfully implementing the projects in India. However, for industry wide acceptance, there should be a thorough analysis of the impact of these systems, which goes beyond technology.
It has to consider social aspects, lifestyle of people, aspirations and appreciate the Indian context and bring awareness.

apartment_south-park

Do you see increasing demand for outdoor living in new homes? What may be the reason?
There has been a definite increase in the demand for outdoor living spaces in individual bungalows because of the increasing exposure and aspirations of the client. People prefer to take a break from routine life and go to luxury establishments to have a nice relaxed time with family, friends and relatives, away from the city.
However, due to busy schedules, it does not become possible to spare dedicated time. Hence, clients prefer to have elaborate amenities as an extension of the house, just in case they may need them to enjoy quality time. Outdoor living spaces become an extension of the house. They help people to unwind from the routine indoor life at home and office and keep them going.

Which new materials are in demand?
Things change fast. Due to globalisation and easy availability of technology and materials, people in the construction industry keep on bringing new materials for exploration. It’s the novelty that attracts clientele.
Clients demand unique experience and products most of the time. In a way, any material that can be successfully used is in demand and sky is the limit. For certain type of projects, the cost does not matter much as long as the product is exclusive. Such aspirations often lead to issues such as lack of specialised workmanship or understanding of context, which may be problematic at times.

How can better urban planning result in better quality of life?
If we revolve around just one of the basic necessities of life in city and start resolving associated issues, it will create a huge impact overall. And it is not about urban planning only; we have to look at the broader picture and a multi-pronged approach.
Everyone breathes air. But is it healthy? No. That’s why we see increasing ads about air purifiers providing healthy indoor air. But this is like creating a problem and then solving it, rather than avoiding the problem in the first place.
While operating, air purifiers consume electricity, which is generated from fossil fuels, which emit air pollution somewhere else. So we are just transferring and increasing our problems.

Can all buildings afford air purifiers? What about the end-of-life waste generated by air filters? What about time spent outside buildings? Should kids use PM2.5 masks while playing cricket?
There are so many questions. But what about focusing on creating clean outdoor air in the first place? It would solve all the issues. We need seamless and comprehensive integration of public transport systems, bicycling, etc. across the city, which would automatically encourage people use it.
We need more native tree plantation all across the city, not just on paper. There are many good models available across the world. However, some aspects are cultural and personal. We need to change the way we think about home, work and commute.

– We use AC cars to avoid air pollution but in the process create more air pollution outside and the cycle repeats itself and conditions deteriorate endlessly.

Things change fast. Due to globalisation and easy availability of technology and materials, people in the construction industry keep on bringing new materials for exploration. It’s the novelty that attracts clientele.

apartment_oeuvre_1

But we fail to understand the fact that in the end, I or my kid is going to breathe that air at home/school/playground. Did we gain anything? Probably no. There is a need for massive awareness and people will start realising. If not, regulations should take care of the situation.
– People buy home and stick to it for life. However, work place changes frequently and then they travel 10km to work creating traffic congestion, air pollution, spend billions on oil import, etc. This money could be used to create better infrastructure and facilities in the cities. We need to come up with innovative models of housing, where changing your address is seamless – right from paper work to logistics for shifting.

– Affordable housing projects are limited to certain areas of the city, which can be far from work places.

This forces people to travel for a longer time. The situation has psychological impact that we commonly observe – causes rash driving, tempts riders to over-speed, jump traffic signals just to reach home early. Families also spends less time together. But can we distribute housing typologies evenly across the city? We can play with the size and construction technology of the unit to make it affordable in certain areas.
Apart from changes in people, there is need for a strong leadership, which can take effective actions against the problems that we are facing today.

What changes do you see in client’s requirements after demonetisation?
Clientele, in general, has become focused regarding the investments.