Page 1


VOL 27 (10)

JUNE 2014


FOCUS: Sustainability

Acknowledging Critical Agendas










Contact: GC&P India Pvt Ltd Regus Platinum Business Centre, Level-13, Platinum Techno Park, Plot no.17/18, Sector-30A, Vashi, Navi Mumbai- 400 705 Tel: 022-61818473 Email: | Web:

industry speak


The Italian Living An interesting interaction with Mr Alberto Canepari, Founder and Director of GC&P Italy and Mr Alok Tiwari, MD and CEO, GC&P India about spreading the concept of the ‘Italian Way of Living’ and spreading support through offering environment friendly products. GC&P is an Italian organization that helps Companies in Italy and elsewhere to improve their organizations and to develop their business in the global market. GC&P India is its Indian branch which is developing fast under the direction of Alok Tiwari, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer. GC&P India supports Italian companies, especially those with prestigious brands and high quality products, to find the best possible way to approach the Indian market.

We have seen the event organised by GC&P India on ‘The Italian Living’ concept at Royal Tulip Hotel, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai on 21st May 2014; can you see a market potential for it in India? Yes, there is a big market potential and we observed that Indians are changing their tastes. We have to create the awareness that Italian products are excellent for their high quality, their design and their reliability; so that, by using them, Builders can be rest assured that their projects become not only extraordinary projects but also environment friendly ones. What do you mean by environment friendly? In Italy, we are very conscious of the environmental problems and in building projects we pay much attention to reduce energy consumption and use renewable energies. We have defined the project ‘La PiccolaVenezia’ at Jhansi for McCoy Infratch Pvt Ltd based on Italian concepts. It includes KBLUE’s most advanced home automation system, which saves up to 30 per cent energy by using low voltage and by optimising energy usage in homes. It also has a solar water heater and rainwater harvesting on campus, which definitely makes it a green and environment friendly project. How can you describe the support GC&P offers to builders in creating an Italian Lifestyle Project? We provide one stop complete solution which includes: 1. Concept, design and master planning support through our expert design team based in Italy and India. Our master planning experts always provide solutions that safeguard the environment and optimise energy consumption. 2. Interior design based on Italian concept and optimum use of space. 3. Supplies of products made in Italy such as: a. Wooden Flooring (Berti is one of the most preferred for wooden flooring by our clients) b. Home Automation System (KBLUE is one of the optimum solution with higher energy savings) c. SPA abd Wellness (LifeClass is one of the leading Italian company which offers “Made to Measure” Bath tubs, SPA/Jacuzzi, Sauna and Steam Bath, which is a key requirement for India due to the fact that Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

standard products cannot fit into the limited space many people have at home). d. Modular Kitchen and Furniture (Italian kitchens are highly valued and FOP and OPES brand are among the best in our country. In addition we also have a wide range of other suppliers of Italian furniture and fixtures) 4. Support in project execution based on Italian standard methods aimed at assuring delivery on time and high quality standards. 5. Tours to Italy for builders and architects to show some key live projects which can help them understand the Italian way of project planning and execution. People in India have the perception that made in Italy products are very costly compared to local products or to products imported from other countries. Is it true? No. About 70-80 per cent of finished product cost is raw material cost, which is more or less the same all over the world. The key difference between India and Italy is labour cost, but it is highly reduced by the use of fully automated and highly efficient production lines in Italy. As a consequence, Italian products have the same price or a better price if compared with products of the same quality level. But design and quality of Italian products are unmatchable by local manufacturers. Do you offer any support to builders in terms of funding in using made in Italy product or other funding for the projects developed with Italian concept? Yes. We have made funding available to support builders who want to buy made in Italy product from Italy. Regarding project funding, we do it as per RBI’s FDI guidelines.

For further information, contact: GC&P India Pvt Ltd Mr Alok Tiwari Regus Platinum Business Centre, Level-13, Platinum Techno Park, Plot no.17/18, Sector-30A, Vashi, Navi Mumbai- 400 705 Tel: 022-61818473 Email: Web:

industry speak


A Notable Journey Mr Satish Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of Kamdhenu Ispat Limited, discusses his entrepreneurial journey and how his vision and innovative business model changed the company’s fate and made it prosperous. Mr Satish Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of to Kamdhenu Ispat Limited, elucidates sharp business acumen and confidence while acting as a visionary guidance for the company that he shaped from the scratch. A Gold Medalist in BE (Mech) from Banaras Hindu University, he started his professional career in the year 1970 and has to his credit a distinguished experience of over 34 years in various fields. In 1994, he in association with his younger brothers floated Kamdhenu Ispat Limited for manufacture of TMT Bars and CTD Bars. Actively contributing to various social causes, he is also behind the various social uplift measures through the company’s social arm – Kamdhenu Jeevandhara. Modest and humble at the core, Mr Agarwal values social relations and enjoys meeting people and participating in sports in his leisure time. Share with us your entrepreneurial journey. After completing engineering in 1970, I joined the family business of manufacturing sugar machinery and agricultural equipments. Thereafter, we set up a rolling mill and refractory unit in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. In order to expand the business horizon, we set up Kamdhenu Ispat Limited in 1994 and started production in 1995 in Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) with aim of initiating a concept of branding in structural steel products of HSD/TMT bars. What led to the formation of Kamdhenu Ispat Limited, a frontrunner company of Kamdhenu Group? Kamdhenu’s franchise business model provides an upper edge to Kamdhenu Ispat Limited which helps it to become a frontrunner of Kamdhenu Group with unique model of quality and marketing support with sharing of profits with our franchisees. What kind of products and services do you offer? What is your brand’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? We are mainly engaged in the manufacturing, marketing, branding and distribution of Steel and Paints. Today, brand Kamdhenu symbolises a product of the best quality at reasonable prices to the ultimate consumers; Kamdhenu means ’best quality at best prices’. What has actually spurred the growth of the steel industry? Do you think it will turn out to be a profitable business avenue for Franchisees/Distributors? Being a developing economy, the continuous thrust on the infrastructure, construction and real estate sector, under various policies and projects, by the government and the private sector and ever increasing housing demand are major propellers of the steel industry. Kamdhenu’s franchisee business model is always a profitable business avenue. Under this model, we undertake study of market trends and identify companies manufacturing steel products and we offer them our Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

brand strength and assistance in technology, quality consistency and marketing of Kamdhenu brand products. This model serves benefits to both; while the franchisee units had Kamdhenu’s brand premium and strong market network, Kamdhenu itself earns royalty due to the franchisee association. The model has also given unique identity to the franchisee units and leverages them to sustain and face the rising competition in steel sector. What actually clicked your mind to get started with franchising? Do you think franchising is helpful in making a nationwide expansion? Demand of Kamdhenu Steel was growing manifold. However, our capacity and financial resources were limited. Then we thought that why can somebody else not produce Kamdhenu brand product under our supervision, with our quality parameters, for feeding the product as per our market demand. This thought gave birth to the idea of franchisee model and we created the mechanism for working of the franchisee model. Today, we have more than 40 units spread across the country producing Kamdhenu brand product of best quality and offering the same at best prices. To maintain quality standards at your premises, what kind of training and support do you offer to the franchisees? Our plant at Bhiwadi is used as a training centre for all technical staff deputed at the franchisee’s unit. Before deputing the staff, we make them to go through the training on various technical, qualitative and commercial aspects. For further information, contact: Kamdhenu Ispat Limited 2nd Floor, Tower – A, Building No 9, DLF Cyber City Phase – III, Gurgaon – 122002 Haryana Tel: +91-124-4604500 Email: Web:

industry news


Häfele India eyes the booming luxury interiors market in Eastern India by bringing in luxe international brands Häfele India launched state-of-the-art Design Centre in Kolkata to provide touch-and-feel experience hub and turnkey interior solutions and to offer skill-development training and certification to city-based workforce for installation and assembling of luxe interior brands.


äfele, the Germany-based world leader in architectural hardware and interior solutions, launched its state-of-the-art Design Centre in Kolkata by bringing in an array of iconic international brands in the luxury interiors space. Häfele India, the 10 year old subsidiary, is gung-ho on becoming the leading interior solutions provider in Eastern India where customers are spending almost 20 to 30 per cent of their annual income on home improvement. Global luxury icons to watch out for: • Liebherr from Germany – the world leader in refrigeration and cooling solutions • Falmec from Italy – holds a core competency in kitchen ventilation needs • Bertazzoni from Italy – specialises in cooking appliances • Asko from Sweden – experts in washing and laundry care • Webert from Italy – super premium washbasins and bathroom faucets • BOING from Spain – attractive washbasins made of soft, flexible materials that are child-safe • Edelbad from Korea – luxury bath and shower fittings • BLANCO from Germany – Durable and elegant range of kitchen sinks and faucets • Armando Vicario from Italy – designer kitchen sink faucets. Aiming to up the consumer experience quotient, the Design Store spread across 2,800sqft will provide a touch-and-feel ambience for customers to experience the functionality of products in their inherent applications. The Design Store would introduce an ensemble of consumer products and complete interior fittings from iconic international brands. The Design Centre is equipped with a team of highly trained designers who combine technical knowhow and creative rigour to offer tailor-made and end-to-end design solutions. “Kolkata is poised to admit evolving premium interior solution trends, what with the city witnessing transcendental growth in the sale of Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

luxury homes. This is where we aspire to make us relevant with our range of best-in-class international brands and a heterogeneous client base. While we will be catering to individual customer needs, there is a full-blown vertical in place to manage the sales from the projects and hospitality market. With this Design Centre we are targeting the high-end real estate projects for residential, commercial and business segments in Eastern India. In the hospitality space we are looking at bagging upcoming five-star hotel and resort properties.” said Mr Jürgen Wolf, Managing Director, Häfele India Pvt Ltd. The Design Centre is equipped with an in-house skill development training center to train carpenters/interior contractors for installation and assembling of various appliances and fittings of the various brands which would ensure quick turnaround time for consumers. Häfele India has emerged as one of the leading home solutions provider in the Indian market and has set its foot in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan through a well-established trade channel network. In India, Häfele is present through fifty-six franchise-owned design studios. About Häfele India: Häfele India, a subsidiary of Häfele Global Network, completes 10 years of Functionality and Design this year and continues to offer the very best interior solutions and fittings. Also, the subsidiary is the sole distributor in India, since 2004, to BLUM—an Austrian kitchen fittings manufacturer and world leader. For further information, contact: Häfele India Pvt Ltd Office No 3, Building A, BETA, I Think Techno Campus, Off JVLR Road, Opp Kanjumarg Station, Kanjumarg East, Mumbai – 400042 Tel: 022 61426100 Web:


chosen to protect

World’s Iconic Hotel, Burj Al Arab, Dubai

(SPP Pumps is 100% subsidiary of Kirloskar Brothers Limited, India)


more than 50 pumps for

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning application

FM listed fire pump sets Booster pump sets | Development Gross Floor Area 200,000 m²

60 habitable floors |

322.0 metres tall

Pumps | Valves | Hydel Turbine | Turnkey Projects Water Resource Management | Irrigation | Power | Industry |Gas Oil & Defence | Building & Construction|Distribution | Customer Service & Spares

industry speak


Amalgamation of Technology and Sophistication Swapneel Nagarkar, head of sales and marketing division for B2B vertical of Godrej Interio, discusses about significant developments in the industry, some interesting insights that led to innovations, and about challenges that lay ahead in the segment. ↑

Swapneel Nagarkar, Head - Sales and Marketing for B2B vertical, Godrej Interio.

As head of sales and marketing division for B2B vertical of Godrej Interio – a company known for its highest standards in quality – Swapneel Nagarkar had to constantly live up to the market expectations of both the customers as well as the industry that expects only the best out of brand Godrej. After joining Godrej in 1995, Mr Nagarkar has since then has handled various roles right from marketing and sales to manufacturing and it is through his sheer hard work and acute sense of market and consumer behaviour that has directed him to be at the leadership position that he is at today. Godrej Interio has an extensive and diverse product portfolio. Elaborate on some of your most pivotal product ranges. At Godrej Interio we have a vast range of product lines like Desking, Seating, Modular Office Furniture (OPOS), Storages, etc. The objective of the same is to provide solutions for a wide variety of segments. In the last couple of years, we have scaled up our presence in certain segments like Education, Banking and Healthcare. We have designed specific solutions for these segments and developed product offerings which in turn have been the pivot of our growth. Could you elucidate on the significant developments, trends and issues that have shaped Godrej Interio through these decades in a journey that has marked it as one of the country’s best furniture manufactures? Godrej Interio was a product focused manufacturer for several years. One of the significant developments which happened was in terms of a change in our orientation whereby we started offering solutions to meet our customers’ furniture requirements. We saw a trend where customers wanted the convenience of a single point contact for furnishing their entire office along with Interiors. Hence, we started offering complete turnkey solutions in select segments. The name Godrej has always stood for high quality and this philosophy we deployed in the turnkey solutions as well, thereby creating convenience and benefit for customers. Godrej Interio’s product designs reflect an ease of functionality and a sense of aesthetics at its core. How do you gather consumer or market insights for that? We capture consumer insights through research and through our own experience which help us gather stated needs and latent needs of consumers. Both of the above, in our case, is a continuous process wherein insights are collected through primary and secondary research done by 3rd party agencies and by our in-house design and marketing teams. We have created an ergonomic cell which conducts research in the area of Ergonomics. It interfaces with customers through Wellness Workshops thereby gathering customer insights on a regular basis. Insights are also gathered through the diverse industries we work Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

and the industry studies we do, whether it is a typical government organisation or a dynamic FMCG or a growing BFSI, all behave differently with their changing work environment. Godrej Interio has also launched a partnership with Knoll International, a global leader in innovative modern design furniture and furnishings. What are the principles and mission values that have guided the success of this partnership? In the furniture industry, Knoll is recognised for their design and execution excellence. Godrej Interio also strongly believes in differentiation through design and hence, for us partnering with Knoll is a good step. Knoll recognises that Godrej is a respected furniture brand and has the largest distribution network in India and thus, finds value in the association. What are the challenges that Godrej Interio is facing today? The major challenges which we are facing today are – volatile economic scenario from fluctuating currencies to escalations in various input costs such as raw material, and getting manpower with required skill sets especially in interiors where quality of workmanship is critical. What new innovations can we expect from Godrej Interio in the near future? At Godrej Interio innovation is a journey rather than a one-time process. Our research helps us look into the market trends and work towards the future. For example, we see the future of offices going towards wireless and more collaborative, hence we have already started working on the concept of Wireless and Mobile office solutions. The 1st concept model of the same is already ready and is in the test phase. For further information, contact: Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli, Mumbai – 400 079 Tel: 22-6796 5656 / 5959 Email: Web:


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industry news


Indira Gandhi International Airport - T3, New Delhi 2

Orion Shopping Mall, Brigade Gateway, Bangalore

Times Square, Mumbai

TWIN Solutions for Sustainability ThyssenKrupp Elevator exhibits efficiency in providing technologically sustainable solutions with its latest range of products


n line with the growing global trend towards designing and constructing sustainable buildings and cities, ThyssenKrupp Elevator is committed to continuously applying cutting edge technology with energy efficient and environmentally friendly features in its products to provide green solutions for the customers. ThyssenKrupp has attached high priority to developing and implementing sustainable solutions for the entire lifecycle of its products and processes worldwide, including India, the world’s second largest elevator market. In addition, high standards for health and safety are observed for all products to minimise the usage of toxic materials from research and development to the manufacturing stage and in field operations. ThyssenKrupp’s Green Elevator Technology ThyssenKrupp’s Permanent Magnet Synchronous (PMS) gearless machines consumes up to 50 per cent less energy than conventional geared machines. PMS machines are lighter, more compact and require no gear box; saving on material and gear oil, substantially reducing oil pollution.High-rise and high-speed ThyssenKrupp elevators can be equipped with a regenerative drive feature which feeds energy produced during the generative mode of elevator operation (lightly loaded and moving up, or heavily loaded and moving down) back into the building’s power grid, saving up to 50 per cent energy. In terms of elevator control technology, the most important recent advancement is Destination Selection Control (DSC), for which passengers enter their destination floor on input terminals in the lift lobby. Passengers going from one floor to the same destination floor are then assigned to the same elevator which would take them to their destination in the shortest time; reducing the number of intermediate stops per trip and optimising the traffic. It also reduces the energy consumption of the elevator group, lowering overall carbon footprint. Other energy-saving measures include extensive use of LED lights in elevator cabs and escalators, offering up to 80 per cent energy saving but with the same luminance as traditional lights and 10 times longer lifetime. LED lights also emit low heat and minimal radiation. 2 Cabs, 1 Shaft, 0 Crowds: TWIN – A Simple Formula for A Revolutionary Elevator System No waiting around, no crowded cabs, and as few stops per trip as possible. TWIN is the innovative solution patented by ThyssenKrupp Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

Elevator that allows two cabs – arranged one above the other – to travel independently of each other, at different speeds and in opposite directions as required in a single shaft. An intelligent Destination Selection Control system ensures that passengers reach their destination in the shortest possible time. All passengers have to do is enter their destination floor on the touch screen outside the elevator. In a fraction of a second the computerised control system selects the elevator cab which will take them there in the shortest time and informs them via the terminal which door to go to. When passenger volumes are low during off-peak periods, one of the cabs can be parked on the lowest or highest floor while the other remains in operation. This would save electricity and further lower the building’s energy consumption. About ThyssenKrupp Elevator With over 49,000 employees to support a burgeoning global client base across 150 countries, ThyssenKrupp Elevator is one of the world’s leading companies in vertical and horizontal people conveyance and transportation systems for the built environment. ThyssenKrupp Elevator offers innovative and energy-efficient products designed to meet customers’ individual requirements. Its portfolio includes passenger and freight elevators, escalators and moving walks, passenger boarding bridges, stair and platform lifts as well as tailored service and modernisation solutions. The company is setting industry standards with unique innovations such as the TWIN elevator system. All the products from ThyssenKrupp Elevator offer efficient and economic solutions for a wide variety of applications and building types. ThyssenKrupp Elevator (India) is a part of the ThyssenKrupp Group, a Fortune 500 company. An extensive network of sales offices and service centres keeps ThyssenKrupp Elevator (India) close to its customers across the country. Professional, well-trained and highly motivated employees ensure customer-centric service at all times. For further information, contact: ThyssenKrupp Elevator (India) Pvt Ltd 1007, Windfall Sahar Plaza, J B Nagar, Andheri East, Mumbai – 100059 Tel: 022-4042-9429 Email: Web:

industry news


Godrej Lockss - Innovation Express Van

Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems Unveils ‘Innovation Express’ The most advanced and innovative second edition of mobile experience centre


odrej Locking Solutions and Systems (Godrej LOCKSS), the pioneers of locking devices in India, unveiled the second edition of its Mobile Experience Centre (MEC) ‘Innovation Express’ in Mumbai. After the success of the first edition of MEC, Godrej Lockss’ second edition of ‘Innovation Express’ will take the concept of an ‘Experience Centre’ to the next level. This showcases evolved technology and design led innovation through its enticing display of products. It will provide an exclusive ’Touch and Feel’ experience of Godrej products to key architects, consumers, interior designers and dealers. The product range has been created taking into consideration the requirements of the target group and their needs. Mr Shyam Motwani, Executive Vice President & Business Head, Godrej LOCKSS said, “In our legacy of over 117 years of providing security, our efforts have been to continuously enhance the experience quotient for our customers. Post the success of our 1st edition of MEC, I am proud to unveil our latest step in innovation, the second Mobile Experience Centre – The ‘Innovation Express’. What makes it more intriguing is the wider array of our evolved product range. We want to continue our endeavour to up the ante and hope you all enjoy our latest offering that challenges and surpasses all expectations.” The all new MEC offers a range of products which include Mortise handles with PVD finish, advanced electronic locks and aesthetically enhanced main door locks. The MEC will be introduced to key metros across India to connect with the key influencers of the business and is slated to travel across 20 Major cities across the country in its first phase. About Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems: For 117 years now, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems (Godrej LOCKSS), has delivered to the nation, security for its loved ones and Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

a bond of deep trust. Today as urban homes and lives go through a paradigm change; their needs are beginning to change too. In anticipation of this immediate future, where pride of ownership, international quality, design and aesthetics are as integral to purchase as trust, Godrej has begun to change the lock on every Indian door into a work of art, technology and intuitive engineering. Over the years, their locks have changed in form, function and scope of application, but one thing remains constant – a robust belief in their products and services. As a part of their dedicated commitment to provide premium and comprehensive locking solutions and to build a future ready business environment, they have introduced an avantgarde range of finest mechanical and electronic locking solute ions for residential and commercial applications that range from the elite electronic locks, omnipresent main door locks, stylish door handle and knob locks to specialized card locks for hospitality industry. These technically advanced products offer complete solutions that are extremely secure and robust, easy to install and operate, and flexible enough to meet challenges of diverse verticals and applications With their locks reaching several countries around the world over a period of time, the brand has come a long way in delivering world class smart locking solutions therefore revolutionizing the very perception of a locking device from a mere functionality at an entry and exit point, to a proud pause at the door step, a moment to take in the significance of how far they have come.

For further information, contact: Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited Pirojshanagar, Vikhroli, Mumbai - 400 079 Tel: 22-6796 5656 / 5959 Email: Web:

industry news


Kajaria Launches ‘The Collection’ – State-of-the-Art Digital Glazed Vitrified Tiles in 40x80cm An enticing range of tiles perfect for walls and floors, crafted by European Designers


ajaria, the most reliable name in tiling solutions unveiled an exceptional series of digital glazed vitrified tiles entitled ‘The Collection’ at a scintillating launch event held on 26 th of April. The venue for the occasion was Taj Vivanta, Surajkund.

With its range of exclusive finishes, The Collection will allow one to enjoy a distinct aura of luxurious textures and see one’s interiors in a completely new avatar. About Kajaria Ceramics Limited

This avant-garde range of tiles captures the power of high definition and innovative prints created by retina imaging technology complete with dynamic finishes like Matt, Lappato, Stone and Polished. Each of these unique finishes are poised to bring one’s living and office spaces to life and transform them into veritable havens of stunning patterns and colour combinations. Mr Rishi Kajaria, Joint Managing Director, commented, “This is a new-age collection of tiles that is perfect for those who love to experiment with a variety of looks for their homes and offices. The Collection is designed to satisfy your creative urges while giving you true visual pleasure. It is an amalgamation of technology and sophistication that reflects an affluent and aristocratic lifestyle.” The Polished tiles from this collection are packed with a high gloss finish fashioned with the latest nano technology. They sport an exceptional lustre and feature 95 per cent glossiness with almost zero porosity, guaranteed to dazzle and delight each time one step into one’s home. Blending style and sophistication into a flawless combination, the distinctive finish of Lappato radiates the edginess of an ‘urban chic’. Its smooth design adds an aristocratic accent to one’s home and is guaranteed to last a lifetime. The Roto Matt finish gives a satin-like feel and is also incredibly adaptable due to its features such as high abrasion resistance and low maintenance. Stone and Marble have been considered icons of affluence and opulence since the time of royalty. They also exude remarkable abrasion resistant and stain-proof characteristics; offering one a complete tiling solution for one’s spaces. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

For over 25 years, the brand Kajaria has become synonymous with innovation and customer satisfaction making it a household name for tiling solutions. Kajaria Ceramics Limited is the only company in the tile industry to receive the ’Superbrand’ award seven times in a row. It has also been conferred with ’Asia’s Most Promising Brand’ award in the Premium Tile Category and is the most certified ceramic tile company in the world. Kajaria is the largest Wall and Floor Tile manufacturing company in India with a capacity of 45.2 million sqm per annum and has a turnover of over `1700crores. The company has seven manufacturing plants, one each in Sikandrabad (UP), Gailpur (Rajasthan), Vijayawada (AP) and four in Morbi (Gujarat). Kajaria has a pan India presence with a strong distribution network of about 6000 dealers and their sub-dealers along with 23 offices-cum-display centres. Kajaria offers more than 1000 options of Ceramic Wall and Floor Tiles, Polished Vitrified Tiles and Glazed Vitrified Tiles and has recently forayed into sanitaryware by launching their in-house brand ‘Kerovit’. The brand promises to showcase an extensive range of international quality, elegant and classic ceramic-ware for the discerning customer. For further information, contact: Kajaria Ceramics Limited J1/B1 (Extn), Mohan Co-op Industrial Estate Opp Badarpur Thermal Power Station, Mathura Road, New Delhi – 110044 Tel: 011-2694 6409 Email: Web:

industry news


THE FUTURE IS WOOD Delhi and Bengaluru witnessed technical seminars emphasising on expressions and possibilities in wood, organised by RitikaaWood, one of the largest timber engineering companies in India.


itikaaWood, India’s largest timber engineering company, had organised technical seminars in Delhi and Bengaluru on the theme of ’The Future is Wood – Exploring New Opportunities in India’. The seminars were an opportunity for RitikaaWood team and various architects to connect with each other and share some valuable insights. In a growing market like India, there is a strong need to diversify the basket of building materials and wood, being the only building material that is renewable (when harvested responsibly), will continue to play a major role.

RitikaaWood has a 30,000sqft manufacturing facility in India and a 3000sqft clean room for coatings. Having successfully executed over 250 projects across India, RitikaaWood now processes nearly 3000cuft of Accoya wood per month.

The speakers for the events had especially come in from UK and Japan and spoke about best practices worldwide using wood in design, workmanship, durability of wood and high performance long-life coatings. The speakers backed their recommendations with results of various tests conducted worldwide. Among these, the most relevant was an inspection report of an outdoor façade cladding project executed by RitikaaWood in India nearly four years ago, where not only has the wood retained its dimensional stability and character, but also the coating has not shown any signs of fading or failure. This cladding has been directly exposed to rain and sun since its installation and the only maintenance carried out on it has been cleaning with water to remove dust. The success of these events is evident by the presence of over 220 architects in Bengaluru alone. RitikaaWood provides end-to-end solutions including design, manufacturing and installation of factory-made, factory-finished real solid wood products like • Windows • Doors • PermaClad Cladding • PermaDex Decking • PermaScrn Screens, etc All RitikaaWood products are made as per European designs customised to suit Indian conditions and come with a product warranty of five years (including on lacquer coatings) and a 50 year warranty on the timber, even when used on the outdoors with direct exposure to rain and sun. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

For further information, contact: 19-B, 3rd Floor, Guldev Sagar, Waterfield Road, Bandra (West), Mumbai – 400050. Tel: +91 22 2655 9721/ 22 E-mail: Web:

VOL 27 (10) | JUNE 2014 | WWW.IABFORUM.COM RNI Registration No. 46976/87, ISSN 0971-5509 INDIAN ARCHITECT AND BUILDER


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The latest news, events and competitions in architecture and design

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Delhi: Preeti Singh 803, Chiranjeev Tower, No 43, Nehru Place, New Delhi – 110 019 Tel: +91 11 2623 5332, Fax: 011 2642 7404, Email: Bengaluru / Hyderabad / Gujarat: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: +91 9833104834, Email: Chennai / Coimbatore: Princebel M Mobile: +91 9444728035, +91 9823410712, Email: Kolkata: Sudhanshu Nagar Mobile: +91 9833104834, Email: Pune: Parvez Memon Mobile: +91 9769758712, Email:

Crafted or manufactured products of use in contemporary settings.

28 FOCUS Sustainability: Acknowledging Critical Agendas

Through the evaluation of five core concerns, the concept of

sustainability and its diverse interdependencies are explored.

Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Printed at M B Graphics, B-28, Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZG D Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, 210, Dr D N Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.



Salvaging a Sensibility



Befitting the Background



Treading the Earth Gently



Humanising Architecture through Innovations



Equity by Design



Architecture – Karnal Medical Centre

Designed by HTAU, the Karnal Medical Centre in Haryana is a

unique building redefining the typology of healthcare centres, in

a semi-public neighbourhood.


Interiors – Jagya Designs

Jagya Designs in Surat designed by Sanjay Ramani is a quirky

building objectified as a place for the young team to work in an

informal atmosphere.

Printed & Published by Maulik Jasubhai Shah on behalf of Jasubhai Media Pvt Ltd (JMPL), 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Printed at M B Graphics, B-28, Shri Ram Industrial Estate, ZG D Ambekar Marg, Wadala, Mumbai 400031and Published from Mumbai - 3rd Floor, Taj Building, 210, Dr D N Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Editor: Maulik Jasubhai Shah, 26, Maker Chamber VI, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Indian Architect & Builder: (ISSN 0971-5509), RNI No 46976/87, is a JMPL monthly publication. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or part, in English or any other language is strictly prohibited. We welcome articles, but do not accept responsibility for contributions lost in the mail.


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industry news


Stylistic & Seamless Apart from establishing itself equivalent to style and innovation, CERA, one of the fastest growing sanitaryware companies in India, recently launched overhead water tanks.


ERA, the leader in bathroom solutions and synonymous with style and innovation in India, has launched overhead storage water tanks, which are manufactured with technologically advanced blow moulding process. These tanks are manufactured from virgin high density polyethylene material and have a unique anti-bacterial coating that prevents algae and bacterial formation. These tanks are seamless and leakage-proof. CERA water tanks are light-weight and have a special threaded lid ensuring airtight closure. The compact and superior finish while contributing to the usability also makes it elegant and stylish. These are available in 310, 500, 750 and 1000 litre capacities and are suitable in all conditions making it best suited for storing drinking water. The tanks are UV protected which can withstand environmental stress. Advance blow mould technology ensures uniform thickness of the tank and zero degradation of the body. Its single piece seamless body ensures extra toughness and longevity, air-tight threaded lids keep dust, insects and other flying objects from polluting water. It has multiple inlet/outlet provisions which makes it easier for plumbers to install it. Cera Sanitaryware Limited, India’s fastest growing sanitaryware company, has been at the forefront of innovation right since its inception in 1980. Some of CERA’s innovations in the past have become a benchmark for the industry like the water-saving twinflush coupled WCs, 4-litre flush WCs, one-piece WCs, etc. CERA has bagged Product of the Year award for three years in a row, for its innovation and has been awarded Power Brand for the last two years consecutively. CERA was also awarded Asia’s Most Promising Brand at Dubai.

For further information, contact: N Jayadeep, Deputy General Manager Sales CERA Sanitaryware Limited, Kochi Tel: +91 9340184114 Email: Web:

Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



Beijing Cityvision Competition 2014

The 7th Making Cities Liveable Conference

Category : Type : Deadline :

Date Venue

International Open to all Registration – June 30, 2014 Submission – July 2, 2014

Cityvision Competition is an annual architectural contest that invites architects, designers, students, artists and creative people to develop urban and visionary proposals with the aim of stimulating new ideas for the future of the cities. The theme for Beijing Cityvision Competition 2014 is ‘Evolution: The Architecture of Future Mankind’. The registration fees for the competition is of 70€. The jury include Ai Weiwei, Greg Lynn, Sou Fujimoto, Eric de Broches des Combes and Sanford Kwinter. For further information, log on to:

Alpavirama 2014 : : :

International Residents of SAARC countries July 14, 2014

The Film & Video Communication department at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, is to organise Alpavirama 2014, an annual documentary and short film festival. For the Alpavirama 2014 competition section, short fiction and documentary films of not less than 3 minutes and not more than 30 minutes long, will be eligible to participate. The film(s) should have been produced on or after 1st July, 2012 and should have been directed by a young person (under 30 years, at the time of making his/her film), who is a citizen of and ordinarily resident in any of the SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). Each film selected from the competition will be screened at least once during the Alpavirama Festival, to be held from September 18 – 21, 2014. For further information, log on to:

I Design Awards


Category Type Deadline

: : :

The 7th edition of Making Cities Liveable Conference will be held at Salt Beach, Kingscliff, NSW and OLD border between July 9 – 11, 2014. The Conference will be a platform for government, academic and private sector practitioners wherein the delegates and presenters will examine how to plan for Healthy Cities, Sustainable Cities and Resilient Cities. It will consider the ‘liveability’ of the cities and towns for the future and the changes required in public policy to build the communities of tomorrow. The Conference programme will include an extensive range of topics such as planning liveable cities and vibrant communities, transport and logistics, resilient cities, legislation and policies, sustainable cities, impact of new technology: how will it continue to drive change, regional and rural towns: the interconnectivity between city, etc, with keynote presentations, concurrent sessions, case studies, workshops and posters. For further information, log on to:

Global Green Summit 2014 Date Venue

: :

July 11, 2014 New Delhi, India

The Economic Times ACETECH’s initiative, the Global Green Summit (GGS), is set to host an Advisory Committee Meet on July 11, 2014 in New Delhi. The meet will primarily be focused on the areas that will encompass green buildings and materials, cost efficiency, role of the government and its initiatives, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water and waste management and success stories of previous practices. It will also host an inter college sustainable design competition ‘DESIGNABILITY’ for the final year architecture students in NCR region to provide them with an opportunity to interact with practicing architects, developers and government authorities. GGS 2014 is to be held in Mumbai on November 8, 2014 and Delhi on December 19, 2014. For further information, log on to:

Indian Open to all September 20, 2014

I Design Awards, organised by Unitech Exhibitions Private Limited (UEPL) and its spinoffs, are organised to highlight and celebrate the best in product designs in India. The I Design Award and Competition is for Indian designers, innovators and product manufacturing companies that want to highlight themselves to attract the attention of media, publishers and buyers. I Design Awards, organised and awarded annually in 16 core categories: Lighting Products, Personal Products and Accessories, Packaging, Office, Home and Street Furniture, Electronic Equipment, Electrical Household Devices, Medical Equipment, Transportation and Vehicles, Building Components and Sanitaryware, Capital Goods, Decorative Items and Recrational Products. The winners are celebrated through the Gala-Night and at the Exhibition held at Product Design Days. For further information, log on to: Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

July 9 – 11, 2014 Salt Beach, Kingscliff, NSW

Grey to Green Date Venue

: :

August 25 – 26, 2014 Toronto, Canada

Grey to Green is a two-day conference focused on the health benefits of green infrastructure for the economy, the ecosystem and the community. It will bring together over 75 leading edge designers, engineers, policy makers, developers, utility managers, conservationists, healthcare professionals, horticulturalists, contractors, urban farmers and academics. The Conference will bring to light many of the important scientific, design, economic and policy advancements in the green infrastructure field such as urban forests, green roofs and walls, bioswales, rain gardens, meadowlands, and wetlands. The multi-disciplinary programme will hold project case studies, useful design and analytical tools, and cutting edge research. For further information, log on to:


Category Type Deadline

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3XN – Danish Firm Designs Grove Towers for Mumbai

Tadao Ando to Expand Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St Louis

Grove Towers, a pair of 38-storey towers with overlapping bases that make reference to the knotted structures of mangrove stalks, has been designed by Danish firm 3XN. The construction of Grove Towers has started in Mumbai and the two skyscrapers will extend to a height of 136 metres, creating 273 apartments, groundlevel shops and over 2,500 square-metres of elevated gardens. The design is based on the vine-like roots of mangroves – a type of saltwater tolerant trees that are common in India – by imagining buildings that ‘seemingly braid together at the base’. The proposed engineered façade will help to prevent solar gain and allow the building to use natural ventilation. 3XN also expects that the elevated garden will help reduce carbon dioxide levels in the surrounding air. “Each time I visit, I am overwhelmed at how much I see the strength of community in all aspects of Indian life. I want this to be a vertical community that brings people together, and becomes a setting for growth and life” said 3XN principal Kim Herforth Nielsen. Grove Towers are scheduled for completion in 2017.

The lower level of Tadao Ando’s Pulitzer Arts Foundation building in St Louis is to be expanded into a public space for exhibitions, new programmes and artist-driven activities. The construction is to be started in August this year and it will expand Pulitzer’s programmable space by nearly 50 per cent. “Over the last decade, the Pulitzer has grown and evolved as an institution, expanding and diversifying its programme through a range of partnerships, community engagement and scholarly inquiry. The expansion of our space is a natural next step as we look to the future and build upon our mission to push the boundaries of the traditional arts encounter”, said Kristina Van Dyke, Director of the Pulitzer. He further added by saying, “The construction will maximise space in our building, while maintaining the intimate experience of art that our audiences have come to know and appreciate. Our vision is to provide contemplative, unmediated access to outstanding art alongside imaginative programmes that inspire visitors to think differently about art and its relationship to daily life.” In conjunction with the expansion, the institution also announced a formal change in name to Pulitzer Arts Foundation (previously The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts).

SPA Students Win BERKELEY PRIZE 2014 The winners of the 16 th Annual International BERKELEY Undergraduate PRIZE for Architectural Design Excellence 2014 were announced recently. The BERKELEY PRIZE 2014 challenge revolved around the topic of ‘The Architect and the Healthful Environment’. There were three distinct competitions – Essay Competition, Travel Fellowship Competition and Teaching Fellowship Competition. The competition is aimed at encouraging undergraduate architecture students and their teachers worldwide to go into their communities for the purpose of thinking and writing about issues central to the understanding of the social art of architecture. A total of 139 undergraduate architecture students from 31 countries responded to this year’s call to describe examples of healthful and unhealthful environments in their respective cities and to compare them analytically. The second prize of 4000 USD for the Essay Competition was won by Nipun Prabakar and Sukruti Gupta, School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. They won the BERKELEY PRIZE for their essay titled Spaces to Grow: A Comparative Study of Two Orphanages. Thier essay discussed upon behavioural patterns of the children living in these institutions, emphasising on how architecture affects their health and how they affect and mould the architecture around them. Prominant personalities of practioners and academitians such as Arza Churchman, Susan Goltsman, Daniel Karlin and Adriano Pupilli formed as the Jury members for the competition.


Daniel Libeskind Designs Milan Expo Pavilion for Chinese Developers – Vanke Designed for Vanke, China’s largest property developer, the Shitang Pavilion is already under construction at the Milan Expo 2015 site, and was conceived by Daniel Libeskind as a sinuous volume with a scaly outer skin. Ancient Chinese teachings and Renaissance art are cited as some of the inspirations for the building, whose twisted shape is intended to create a continuous flow between inside and outside spaces. A staircase will also curve around the exterior, leading up to a rooftop terrace. For the Expo theme of ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, the New York exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum and Chinese graphic designer Han Jiaying will work with Libeskind to create an interior described by Vanke as a virtual forest. This will feature 300 multimedia screens, offering a look at the role of the dinner table in Chinese communities. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

London Design Festival 2014 to Include Spinning Sculptures and Drones Installations including a ‘gigantic scale’ rotating sculpture by Barber and Osgerby, a garden installation by Zaha Hadid and a swarm of drones have been announced for this year’s London Design Festival that is going to be held from September 13 – 21, 2014. Barber and Osgerby have collaborated with BMW and designed ‘Double Space for BMW’, a kinetic sculpture that creates an immersive experience for the viewer. Two mirrored silver structures will be suspended in the centre of the gallery. The choreographed movement of the giant structures will distort the view of the Raphael cartoons on display, the architecture of the room and the viewer’s perception of the space. Convex on one side and flat on the other, the panels that will be arranged end-to-end will slowly spin in a choreographed programme – sometimes in sync and other times in opposition.

COMPETING UTOPIAS – An Experimental Installation of Cold War Modern Design from East and West in One Context Competing Utopias, organised by Los Angeles institutions – the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences and the Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War, each a different type of museum, is a design collision that should never happen. The event will hold this installations that are representative of a ‘mash-up’ in the most provocative sense of that word. Its force comes from the collision of two design cultures that have been kept apart but have been visually connected in ways yet unexamined. It is an experimental installation that presents cold war modern design from East and West in one context. The strength of this installation comes from its simplicity; that a cultural disruption is arranged by just a few simple acts. Special events will be presented in conjunction with the installation, including lectures and summer dinner parties with luminaries in architecture, design, film, as well as screenings of ‘rediscovered’ DEFA technical and zoological documentary films from East Germany. The event will be held at the Neutra VDL Research House, Los Angeles starting from July 13, 2014 till September 13, 2014.


A nib between a rocking chair and a crib – ‘Cribber’ is a unique design that is a true representative of aesthetical and functional piece of furniture.

CRIBBER Text: Sachi Atul Shah Images: courtesy bent by design


ribber’ is a rocking crib with a chair that is made with no screws or other hardware during its construction process. The form is created to comfort the new mother who needs to swing and sway the child to put her child to sleep. With ‘Cribber’, made of Burma Teak wood, the mother can enjoy the gentle sways along with her newborn, without tiring herself rather relaxing along. “I was inspired by my daughter’s birth and wanted to make her a beautiful crib to celebrate our joy. My wife’s rocking chair was also long overdue. Combining the two made perfect sense and that is how ‘Cribber’ came about”, said Yusuf. He further added, “The design is influenced by the Shakers who made austere and simple artefacts and believed that making something well was in itself an act of prayer”. It follows clean and simple lines and uses traditional woodworking techniques. Said Yusuf wishfully, “The ‘Cribber’ has been passed on from friend to friend and I hope someday it will come a full circle and my daughter will use it to celebrate her children”. Formed in early 2007, bent by design is a young studio by three young, diverse and dynamic designers – Yusuf, Hidish and Kuldeep – representing the nerve of creative, passion-driven, young Indians who are interested in creations that are meaningful, exciting, minimal and yet functional and aesthetically appealing.

Designer: Yusuf – Furniture Designer Contact: bent by design 57/3, Horamavu, Agara, Banjara layout, Bangalore- 560043 Karnataka Tel: Yusuf +16477786872 (Canada) Email:;; Web: Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



CANTILEVER STOOL Designed using the dovetail joint mechanism, Cantilever Stool is a simple as well as comfortable furnishing article. Text: Sachi Atul Shah Images: courtesy bent by design


antilever Stool was created to experience the dovetail joint mechanism in furniture for everyday use. Kuldeep, the product designer, designed it with three wooden plank slides that are then locked in place by dovetailed finger joint from which the seat plank cantilevers. The dovetail joint is, historically, considered as one of the strongest joints in carpentry and has been widely used in wood working techniques. Cantilever Stool flaunts that the studio stands for uncompromising attitude towards refined joinery details. Comfortable to sit on, the Stool brings together the economy of fulfilment of function without compromising on strength and durability. The three planks of the Stool can easily be slided out and carried away or flat packed and stacked away, adding to the convenience of stress-free storage. “Japanese-American woodworker and architect, George Nakashima, uses a dovetail key in his furniture to bind and hold natural cracks and ruptures in the wood. Celebrating this joinery method and also to explore its strength, I have designed Cantilevered Stool using composite wood (MDF)” said the product designer, Kuldeep. Designer: Kuldeep – Product Designer Contact: bent by design 57/3, Horamavu, Agara, Banjara layout, Bangalore – 560043 Karnataka Tel: Kuldeep +91 9845272320 Email:;; Web: Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



Sustainability – Acknowledging Critical Agendas Sustainability worked its way into public consciousness, armed with alarming statistics in a seemingly dysfunctional landscape, the significance of the nearing environmental crisis since then offering particularly provocative stimulus to any discussion on what constitutes relevant, inherently ‘sustainable’ architecture. Sustainability has many concerns, and especially in as diverse a country as India there should exist multiple points of departure from which to understand the inherent processes existent in the issue. However, although it has been debated and discussed at length, many a time, it has always been in generic terms, that list the unchanged principles of the issue and similar responses to the quandary. It seems appalling that in a creative profession such as ours, that there is usually only one thought that pervades the mind, when sustainable buildings are spoken of: either an image that stages a mutiny, discrediting the culture of consumption, harking back to a simplistic way of life or through unapologetic conformism to the norms laid out by green rating systems, with everything in-between drowned out, in its stead. What is the relevance of sustainability; is it the new dawn that provokes different thought, one that exists without the baggage of the old and new, or is it the one frittered away into oblivion and standardisation by similar responses to the quandary? This might sound like a ridiculous notion, given the fact that never before has ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ been such a popular concept. Yet the trendiness of green living is precisely what imperils it; as a trend, sustainability runs the risk of lapsing out of style, a fad that can go out of fashion as easily as it came in. A worrying possibility, since the issue of the environment poses grim intimidation. The environmental concerns are real and require a more holistic understanding of the subject, which cannot occur unless each of its values are dissected and understood in their individualities and through their interdependencies. Is sustainability truly an end in itself? Or is it the means towards a deeper understanding of the subject? Are there parallel paths of relevance? Questions abound, and sustainability has barely scratched the surface. But if as Norman Potter says, “Design is a field of concern, response, and enquiry as often as decision and consequence”, this issue can be discussed through a polemical understanding of sustainability that in the engendering of new thought and debate on the subject, works towards an evolution of the concept. Through this issue, we look through five compilations on the varied tenets of Sustainability, that address its concerns through a relevant thread of association -

Viability of Universal Design Principles Response to Context Environmental Performance and Resource Management Innovation and Transferability Sustainability as a Public Asset Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Salvaging a Sensibility The dichotomy between what is pressed upon us, in the wrappings and embellishments of ‘green’, and the basic tenets of sensible and universally resonant principles of sustainable design continues to persist. Reconciling with a more basic understanding of the concept allows us to evolve a relevant dialogue that roots the conversation in a deeper understanding of the ecological and social canons and aspirations of sustainability. Text: Chandrima Padmanabhan


ustainability in its inherence has always been plainly evident when resources were few and when settlements evolved as a response to the bare necessity of sheltering one from the vagaries of nature through the negotiation of an integral association with it. It is understood that, traditionally, man did not see himself as a separate entity from nature, and the shelters of older times were moulded into shape by the constraints of time, availability and proximity of resources and their utilisation in the most efficient manner as ascertained by their natural characteristics. The simple, effective natural support systems have since then been relinquished to a reliance on tremendous artificial support today, manipulated into form by the dictates of a global culture and the acquiesced resource of the time – money. It is important to iterate that taking this perspective of circumstances is not yet another attempt to glorify and epitomise a regressive approach to sustainability. Horse drawn carriages may have been suited to and representative of the lack of pollution in its time, but it would be unrealistic to suggest that people revert to such responses and give up on a way of life to curtail today’s excesses. However, as an entreaty to our better judgement at this decisive juncture, where we have been forced to reassess our design fundamentals due to rising environmental concerns, it is necessary to adjudge our architecture anew. The process of building was conceived to provide shelter from the elements; oriented, by necessity, to rely on natural energy flows of the light and wind, making provisions for simple shading elements and through the intrinsic use of the building’s thermal mass negating the need for building systems. In this way, by virtue of its very design, a building sustained the functions it was meant to house. These ideals, logical and relevant as they still are, should be the first considerations that inform the design process, yet all around us we see ripostes to the contrary. While building typologies today do require a certain amount of artificial aid to be comfortable to the masses they house under one roof, this does not validate the complete negligence of passive design considerations that rely on a sensible planning of spaces. Buildings are increasingly and banally built only to align themselves to the adjoining street, closed systems of masonry and concrete left largely exposed to the heat of the Indian climate and the consequent creation of heat islands, rendering the edifices and the surrounding spaces completely unsustainable. While the principles of building sensibly should additionally negotiate the evolution of basic ideals in keeping with contemporary typologies, all our creative impulses, instead, seem occupied in the creation of technological and mechanical innovations to commodify sunshine into heat and electricity. This paradigm can be better mediated by understanding that the universal concerns of green building cannot be arbitrated through standardised responses, as those perpetuated Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

viability of universal design principles



The Kandalama Hotel by Geoffrey Bawa, allows the natural flow of the wind and sunlight into the public spaces of the building, leaving only the restaurant and bar air conditioned. (Image: courtesy Dominic Sansoni)

The process of building was conceived to provide shelter from the elements; oriented, by necessity, to rely on natural energy flows of the light and wind, making provisions for simple shading elements and through the intrinsic use of the building’s thermal mass negating the need for building systems. In this way, by virtue of its very design, a building sustained the functions it was meant to house.

by LEED. Universality is commonly mistaken to mean standardisation. The difference can be better understood by drawing an analogical comparison with religion, say Hinduism for example. People of a similar faith have a similar understanding and a similar vision, although there may be a different personalisation of the traditions and customs through which every family practices the religion. This making of room for permutations and combinations within the main constraints is also evidenced in the way the sari, the traditional Indian garment is worn just a little differently by women from the North, South, East and West. Equally relevant negotiations, these differing responses to a universal idea are particularly suited to accommodate regularly evolved sensibilities that stay true to its basics. Standardised responses, on the other hand, seek sameness in every respect, not just in its vision for the future, and are conscious decisions to conform to a symbolic ideal. Green concerns are unarguably universal issues, but measuring responses in the form of checklists and rating systems based on the number of features they include would be to preclude any creative thought questioning those distinct premises, and the proliferation of standardised mass construction that looks alike, as a result. Such notions evolve and propagate an understanding of sustainability that can only provide innovative solutions through technological mastery and increased mechanisation, rather than as a way of life evolved from an understanding of the values of sustainable living. It pushes the concept of Green further away from the basic tenets of sustainability that require a building to contextually respond to the needs of comfort, specific to place and culture; one that cannot be encompassed in an analysis that is strictly quantitative. While the validity of a qualitative definition of sustainability may seem debatable, even as a quantitative measure the principles of LEED are particularly ill-suited to the context of India, as its standards do not vary to match geographic locations. Although the U S Green Building Council anticipates LEED moving towards climate-specific certification, its current point system awards the same points for projects in any region, even though the features’ impacts may be wholly altered. It, therefore, is not surprising that a window with expensive, imported, high embodied energy, heat reflecting/absorbing surfaces that reduce heat ingress by 25 per cent gets points, but simple windows with good shading 'chajjas' that reduce heat ingress by 50 per cent get nothing 1. Despite research to the contrary, LEED is more popular with the building fraternity than passive design techniques because it focuses on sweeping categorisations that showcase specific components to the general public. The five areas assessed in LEED are water efficiency, sustainable sites, materials and resources, indoor environment quality, and energy and atmosphere. Passive design strategies are easily explained, with very little to show for it. Their primary focus of energy efficiency hardly Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Photovoltaic sunshades seem to effortlessly elicit a resounding clap on the back from energyconscious clients, in comparison to design strategies that naturally negate the need for any photovoltaic sunshades at all.

The hostel and residential spaces of the Rishi Valley School creates a soft threshold between the inside and outside; the underlying spatial patterns providing spaces to linger and bring people together. (Image: courtesy Flying Elephant Studio)

sounds as fascinating or pioneering, when the only features available for discussion pertain to the type of insulation being used or the way the building has been oriented. Photovoltaic sunshades seem to effortlessly elicit a resounding clap on the back from energy-conscious clients, in comparison to design strategies that naturally negate the need for any photovoltaic sunshades at all. The architect therein plays a part in reinforcing the faulty stereotypes believed by the public, regarding what makes architecture truly intelligent or advanced, encouraging similar demand; a vicious cycle perpetrated on the grounds of nonchalance. To overcome the casuality and the stylistic limitations, we need to step back and re-examine our premise and the depth of our reasoning in the way we build. In learning to appreciate how much will do, how much is just enough, we can minimise consumption at the grassroots and steer ourselves towards building efficiently rather than preoccupying ourselves with making buildings efficient. Effective examples of such principles in action, and in subservience to contemporary needs, is redolent in the architecture of Geoffrey Bawa, which embody the principles of passive energy efficiency in the tropics. His work resonates with the land it resides in, evolved from the landscape even as it appropriates a universal and comprehensive parlance of prudently responding to the climate and the geography. The natural flow of the weather and nature are permitted into the architecture rather than denied or excluded, allowing its users to relate to the environment outside, instead of being cocooned in detached, air-conditioned and artificially-lit spaces. This continuity with the outside milieu allows its users a lesson in the symbiotic relationship between people and the environment, engaging the senses in the simplicity of design rather than in the theatrics of material excess and the daring of technology, in a more realistic narrative of the place it resides in. Bawa’s sincerity to the tiled, pitched roofs used traditionally by colonial architects in the tropics, proffer broad eaves and spacious verandahs as protection against the sun and the rain, the use of interconnected courtyards and loggias further negating the need for air-conditioning. The Kandalama Hotel, among the last few projects of Bawa’s prolific career, follows the contour of the hilly outcrop, and the indigenous horticulture that extends along its façade engendering a microclimate, reduces the cooling load of the building significantly. Unlike Bawa’s buildings located on humid oceanfront sites, the Kandalama is located in the dryer zone of Sri Lanka, preferring the use of a less material-intensive flat roof over the pitched roof in this instance. The open hallways span the length of the hotel, its interior public spaces open to the outside with only the restaurant and the bar being air-conditioned. The offices for the West Bengal Pollution Board in Kolkata is another exemplary model of Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



The Heritage School Campus by Madhav Joshi and Associates is spread leisurely over 10 acres of land, parceling the built form into smaller footprints, that follow the natural course of the terrain and wind. (Image: courtesy Madhav Joshi and Associates)

passive design strategies as the entire office space of 1,300sqm is naturally ventilated, and functions without the need for any air-conditioning. The main tactic was to position the building to make best use of the site conditions; the lab and the office spaces oriented north to south maximise on daylighting, ventilation and optimum thermal insulation. The shading devices on each wall, a composite construction of horizontal and vertical louvers, were designed specifically to counter and accentuate the quantity and quality of sunlight it encountered. The windows facing south had additional vertical louvers at the two ends, to prevent even minimal sunlight inside, from the corners, while the eastern and western windows were angled to accommodate the early morning winter sun while cutting off the summer sun during the day. With this attention given to detail, the combination of precise orientation and placement of window and external shading saves 41.5 per cent more energy than a conventionally designed building of the same size annually. 2 The India Habitat Center, in Delhi, by Joseph Allen Stein also significantly reduces cooling loads, through the creation of a microclimate of shaded and planted courts, towards which the office spaces are oriented. The space frame acts as a shading device, additionally reflecting 70 per cent of the summer heat, making them extremely comfortable for habitation in the summer and thereby extensively used. In the establishment of the tangible relevance of universal design principles in the intrinsic sustenance of our environment, it is also important to ascertain the added intangible value it extends to the quality of life of its users; a sensibility that develops naturally from interacting with nature. More and more, as spaces become repositories of excessive energy usage, in the bargain, they also cut off users from comprehending the significance of being privy to the simple pleasures of even adequate daylighting. This is aptly expounded on by Juhani Pallasmaa, “In our time, light has turned into a mere quantitative matter and the window has lost its significance as a mediator between two worlds, between enclosed and open, interiority and exteriority, private and public, shadow and light. Having lost its ontological meaning, the window has turned into a mere absence of the wall.� 3 Access to nature and its elements, remain a precariously balanced privilege, atleast to city dwellers; the draw of country retreats many a time craven for, only to seek a semblance of space to linger in with the natural ease evoked through a reconnection with nature, away from the pollution and the detachment of urbanity; instances that should be afforded within the city, in our built landscapes. While poetic odes to the elements of light and nature have been oft-quoted in design literature, it is important to recognise that these understandings have factual corroborations Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


More and more, as spaces become repositories of excessive energy usage, in the bargain, they also cut off users from comprehending the significance of being privy to the simple pleasures of even adequate daylighting.

The planning principles redolent in the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology campus by BV Doshi create a sequence of spaces conducive to a vibrant environment that encourages socialising. (Image: courtesy Vastu Shilpa Consultants)

as well. Research suggests that associations with daylight and nature in our built environment lead to better outcomes in education, healing and work. This makes it all the more important to question anew, the dynamic qualities that make daylit spaces so compelling, or an open air theatre so conducive to informal gathering, in order to pre-empt their role in the creation of healthy, dynamic and beautiful spaces that save energy and enrich the lives of the people that use them. Bengaluru-based Flying Elephant Studio, which was commissioned to design the senior girl’s hostel and teacher’s residences of the Rishi Valley School in Madanpalle does just this, as it creates a soft threshold between the inside and the outside. The students move through the hostel spaces, actively engaging with the regularly spaced skylights, past the seating along the corridors, to the stepped courtyard that can be comfortably occupied for an evening of work or leisure; the underlying spatial patterns and processes frequently providing spaces to linger and bring people together. The dormitories open out to the elements on its sides, effecting cross ventilation and visual transparency to create thermal comfort and further enhance the well-being of its users. Especially in a hostel block, these small intricacies in the detailing, and the layered interstices, are not lost on its users; affording communal possibility in the everyday act of living, their openness accommodating contingencies in its use and changes over time, without any waning of design intent. Heritage School campus by Madhav Joshi and Associates, creates spaces for more such interaction by spreading the campus over a leisurely 10 acres of land, and by the parcelling of the building into small footprints; the built area only amounting to 6,200sqm. The structures are positioned to follow the course of the terrain and the natural wind flow, while the thick building envelope and tiled terracotta roof purports sufficient insulation inside, making habitation comfortable. Outside, the angular geometry induces oblique movement through the site, the shade created by the overhang and the recessed windows creating spaces of refuge. The outlying unbuilt landscape defines the fabric of the built, the meandering landscape between the clusters transforming the microclimate and engaging with the user as they familiarise themselves with the amble it induces along the site. Prem Chandavarkar aptly posited an interesting line of questioning at a recent conference, “How can we structure space in a manner that permits its meaningful, ritualised occupation?” He went on to suggest that though we may be obsessed with the aesthetic of expression, what we need to think of is the aesthetics of absorption; about how the space is inhabited, how memories are created when we inhabit the space and therefore how value accrues over time. When the sequenced ordering of spaces allows the creation of a vibrant Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


The increase in population can also be reasonably interpreted to indicate the usage of large quantities of aluminium, glass, stainless steel and ceramics; the production of which substantially influences the amount of CO2 emissions escaping into the atmosphere.


The Drug Deaddiction Centre, in Pune, by Shirish Beri is designed to accommodate a central courtyard that creates transparency, openness and fluidity between spaces and between patients. (Image: courtesy Shirish Beri)

atmosphere, with opportunities to linger and socialise in a built environment and almost always with nature as its loyal ally, it induces the ease of such possibilities. The intricacy in the planning principles of the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology campus in Ahmedabad by BV Doshi, elicits a similar sentiment, building spaces that socially sustain the people they are meant to house. The scope of such beneficial environments in institutional buildings where they can cater to the atmosphere of learning and wellbeing of the students is of extreme relevance to our urban fabric today. The Drug Deaddiction Centre in Pune by Shirish Beri, an institutional building of another kind, also departs from the expected strict functionality of health care facilities, where patients are only afforded space to edge their way in gaps between people and multiple doors and finally out of the building. The Centre, however, opens out instead of closing in on its occupants. Through the creation of a central, landscaped amphitheatre with overlooking terraces that are consistently physically and visually accessible, it serves both as a means of informal supervision and as a resource in creating transparency, openness and fluidity between spaces and between patients, disallowing them to feel isolated and depressed. This space is conducive to interaction and group therapy, and constantly used to house music, drama, exercise and tea breaks, and much like the courtyards of old, is the heart and soul of the community of people who inhabit it. “We have all become so close and involved with these spaces that we have almost forgotten the building. It has become synonymous with our work and life�, said Dr Anil Awanat, of the Centre. 4 A space becoming a natural extension of a way of life, as all spaces truly ought to, the Centre accrues value through sincere engagement with its end users, bringing them closer to nature and to the people in their life. Spaces of cultural reprieve are no different, more so infact due to the particularity of the function they house. It is all the more important for these spaces to be designed sensibly to lower energy loads and allow culture to disseminate as a necessary extension of the city. Frightful blemishes like the PL Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy in Mumbai, still exist as reminders of the sway that the iconoclasm of glass can have, even over the State, as it was serenaded as a motif of power and prestige. Yet, on the other hand, spaces like the Koothambalam in the Kalakshetra campus of Chennai is one of the longest standing examples of a performance space still in regular use that is entirely naturally ventilated and comfortable to use. The visual and acoustic considerations of the space incorporated in the layout of the pillars are not hampered in any way by the fretted walls, which allow air to circulate freely, with no need of air-conditioning. Housing theatre performances, concerts and dance recitals regularly, it challenges the stereotype of closed performance spaces that believe any connection to the outside to be disturbing. The innate sensibility with which the Koothambalam Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Madhu Industries, by Surya Kakani uses fly ash bricks in its load bearing walls, saving on the requirement of concrete and steel, by proffering an alternative material for construction. (Image: courtesy Surya Kakani)

has been designed is representative of the success it sees, as a space for cultural communion. While the gradual increase in the urban population establishes the need for these sensibly designed contemporary building typologies, it also spells out another design conundrum that must be negotiated, by the building fraternity. The increase in numbers can also be reasonably interpreted to indicate the usage of large quantities of aluminium, glass, stainless steel and ceramics; the production of which substantially influences the amount of CO 2 emissions escaping into the atmosphere. This surmises an urgent need to find alternative methods of material resources that are more efficient, and reduce our dependence on those that require high processing energies. The development of strategies and techniques to utilise fly ash, ferrocement, earthen blocks and stone more productively, in terms of performance, must consistently be engaged in. While small and medium scale industrial operations are occupied in the production of masonry blocks, cladding stones, timber boards and prefab doors and windows, the need to scale-up the movement is imperative. These resources can cover all needs of construction for small span structures of up to four storeys, only if the professions of architecture and engineering actively promote them. 5 The three-storey, naturally ventilated and daylit factory, Madhu Industries designed by Ahmedabad-based architect Surya Kakani uses 75 per cent fly ash bricks. The fly ash brick along with the red clay bricks were used in the load bearing wall of the structure; the load-bearing walls saving on the requirement of concrete and steel in the thirty two peripheral columns on each floor. The hollow fly ash concrete blocks used in the slab not only reduced the dead load of the slab and in turn the concrete, but also the percentage of steel used in the structure. Another accomplishment of this design is better explained through Ann Thorpe, who in her book, ‘The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability: Charting the Conceptual Landscape through Economy, Ecology and Culture’, proffers new thought to the question of disposing technical nutrients in landfill as waste. She advocates the conceptual classification of materials separately as ‘organic nutrients’ and ‘technical nutrients’ (such as plastic and metal); and like all nutrients, asserts the validity of their existence, albeit in cradle to cradle lifecycles. 6 She posits that while organic nutrients go back into earth to decompose naturally, technical nutrients should similarly be reworked into the technical manufacturing loop, propagating their own cradle-to-cradle uses. Fly ash, used in the factory building by Kakani, is just such a material; an industrial by-product from thermal power plants, it utilises the aggregated wastes of industrialisation, which have multiplied tenfold in the past couple of years, in construction. A more recent, spontaneously inspired design project that used construction debris from a nearby site for its own construction was the office space in Ambegaon by Ankur Kothari. Treating the leftover portions of sized and Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Through overproduction and excess, we push the system to overextend itself, accumulate, sprawl, obliterate its own purpose and leave behind its own goals to accelerate in a vacuum. The purpose of building is left vague and unarticulated; balancing on a precipice between following the rules that have been deemed sustainable because everyone is doing it, and actually understanding climatic and ecological appropriateness in its essence. ↑

The Office Space in Ambegaon by Ankur Kothari use leftover pieces of stone slabs to create composite infill panels for the walls. (Image: courtesy Ankur Kothari)

cut natural stone slabs rightfully as usable material, the pieces were composited to make infill panel walls for the structure. Innovating and creatively creating sustainable cycles of material production, appropriately focus on the issues of the ecological footprint of our culture, the context of the expanding world population and the carrying capacity of our remaining finite resources. There exist many such small uprisings of sensibly designed contemporary space that contribute to the ecological and sustainable intellectual capital, forming a thread of relations involved in scripting a more coherent dialogue of sensibilities that tie our past to the subject of our future. Our present impasse is perhaps best put in the words of Jean Baudrillard, “We are no longer in a state of growth; we are in a state of excess. We are living in a society of excrescence, meaning that which incessantly develops without being measurable against its own objectives.” 7 This is precisely where our architecture stands today. Through overproduction and excess, we push the system to overextend itself, accumulate, sprawl, obliterate its own purpose and leave behind its own goals to accelerate in a vacuum. The purpose of building is left vague and unarticulated; balancing on a precipice between following the rules that have been deemed sustainable because everyone is doing it, and actually understanding climatic and ecological appropriateness in its essence. Through the buildings architects design, they often engineer and strengthen amongst people, an understanding of what is current and important. The blind propagation of technological flamboyance and material excess only further embed them in people’s imaginations. This puts architects in a seat of incredible responsibility. Architects can no longer sweep a building that is inherently uncomfortable to live, work and unwind in, under the proverbial rug of technical advancement. It would mean that he too has bought into the uninformed associations of technological progress that laypeople hold about glass. It is only possible to continually innovate with design when the fundamentals and the intent are strongly rooted in a holistic understanding of the existent energy flows in the environment, the elements of design in spaces, the culture of communion and the systems in materiality; the interrelated nuances in between tying these doctrines together in a sustainable ecosystem. References: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Beri, S (2013). spaces inspired by nature. Super Book House. A TERI initiative for Sustainable Development. (2009). Sustainable Habitats. New Delhi. Pallasmaa, J (2005). The Eyes of the Skin : Architecture and the Senses. John Wiley & Sons. Beri, S (2013). spaces inspired by nature. Super Book House. Lall, A (2007). Evolving Traditional Practices for Sustainable Construction in the Present. INTBAU International Conference. New Delhi. 6. Thorpe, A (2007). The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability: Charting the Conceptual Landscape through Economy, Ecology and Culture. Island Press. 7. Dietmar Kamper, C W (1989). Looking Back on the End of the World. Semiotext(e). Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Befitting the Background Resonating to the native characteristics of a place, the people adopt an architectural style that is primarily resulted from the needs to survive the physical conditions and to celebrate the local customs through the built environment. In the continuous process of achieving a ‘sustainable’ environment, the inter-relationship between the individuals and communities and the locality have marked its importance over the years and shall continue to reflect in future. Text: Shreya Shah


rchitecture has been a design solution to the needs of people arising out of the force of circumstances. The principles of designing a habitat are shaped after understanding the factors that give rise to these circumstances. The basic factors that initiate the need of ‘designed’ space have been dependent on the necessity of comfort to be attained through a defined economy. However, these aspects are coherently based on the ‘context’ of the place and hence consequently the art of ‘contextual’ buildings has arisen. Eliel Saarinen (cited in Frederick 2007) 1 says, “Always design a thing by considering it in its larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan”, one must attempt to recognise the connections of any object with its larger surroundings. Any building, like any object, is an entity befitting in its larger surroundings. Architecture creates an inbuilt relationship with the context as does the living organisms with its symbiotic organisms. The outsized eco-system of the built and natural places is thus formed through the interdependency of the humans and the nature. The elements of humanitarian design rely upon this interaction. Architecture in context creates a strong and eloquent relationship with the surroundings; its cursory attention lies in understanding the formation of communal living thoroughly. In the beginning of the civilizations the habitats began as an organic growth, and the architecture took place as an occasion of creating the built environment. In the times when there was not truly an ‘architect’ to design the spaces, the buildings were the outcome of the people’s general reaction to their immediate context, to the place where they lived and belonged to. Nonetheless, the people themselves were the architects. The inception of building a habitation has taken place as a result of the basic needs of shelter. The habitats, not only, depend on the communal references but, largely on the context of existing milieu. Looking back into past, the civilizations were most sustainable in the truest sense of ‘delivering the services to the needs of the community’ and perform the way they were fabricated to. The architecture that was thus begun, is seen smoothly merging with its environments. People, when they build their habitats, they make use of the most convenient materials available and the techniques adopted are a result of their knowledge gained through generations. The transformations that occurred over the years have been the guidelines to build in the current day designs. It is essential to look across the pristine architecture for the community it serves and to gather knowledge about the influences that gave birth to the art of making ‘contextual’ buildings. Paul-Alan Johnson 2, in Theory of Architecture, said “Context refers to either the physical built fabric. . . within which an architect or group of architects, a work or body of work is culturally and historically placed, or in relation to which they may be understood and assessed in particular aspects. In either case, context implies a saturation of mutually influential qualities.” Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

response to context








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The Dolma Ling Institute in Dharamshala built with load bearing structures and of low-cost materials maximises weather resistance.

The elements of humanitarian design rely upon this interaction. Architecture in context creates a strong and eloquent relationship with the surroundings; its cursory attention lies in understanding the formation of communal living thoroughly.




The planning of the Institute in Dharmashala emphasising on the central built mass that divides the campus into two divisions containing a fixed number of classrooms and housing units on each side. (Image & Drawing: courtesy MN Ashish Ganju Architects)

Local implications suggest the design immensely than any external feature. With these oblivious factors nourishing the unprocessed increment in the built environment, the uncontrollable circumstances created by social and cultural situations lead to a gradual change in the pattern of settlements. The initiation of any tangible object happens through a ‘frame of reference’. The local implications often become the ‘frame of reference’ for further growth of the significant buildings. The designer, may it be an architect or the person building his own house tend to replicate the architectural styles as observed in the surroundings. Even in the most typical case of ‘innovation’ the objective is always a result of the need but with a revised idea to provide the human beings with more applicable solutions. In addition to this, the idea of ‘genuis loci’ coined by Christian Norberg-Schulz 3, explains that “A place is more than an abstract localisation. It is an entity made of definite things with material, matter, form, surface and colour”. ‘Genius loci’ forms one aspect of the Phenomenological trilogy in Architecture which explains the inter-relativity of the areas of studies, based on which the conception of relativity of architecture is discussed. Localisation is redefined with passing of time as we observe the existing mass and then modify it in order to achieve more sustainable habitat. After trials of many modifications, the most suitable is adopted dependent on the situational needs. The way of living is upgraded constantly as the human interventions continue to take place. Here, what comes into play is the cultural want of recreating the built environments. The various communities observed cross India suggests that the most sustainable habitats are generated as a result of the culture and traditions followed by the people. This, more or less, refers to the theory of ‘cultural memory’, first coined by Jan Assmann 4, as a major factor concerning the idea of ‘frame of reference’. The human psychology states that the ‘cultural memory’ is the most rooted memory and hence it rapidly makes connections with every branch it deals with. The study of culture and tradition are beneficial as they allow us to know much more about the place and the knowledge gained thereby aids in structuring the architecture. Culture suggests that the design principles formulated by the people are more legitimate as they are originated not only out of the physical and social factors but also the economy that is generated through the contextual particulars. These principles henceforth become the base for the contemporary architecture. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


The courts designed in the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru creates informal spaces enhancing multiple functions. (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

When the settlements started to shape in various parts of the country, the cultural and communal systems gained prominence and began to govern the spaces. The planning became dependent on the traditional activities taking place and shaped to the spaces created within the envelope of built mass. Today, we see the implications of the traditions and routines throughout the evolution of planning in various regions which is also continued in the contemporary examples. A respectful design responds to the beliefs and ceremonial aspects of dissimilar cultures. Even though the various religions across the nation have followed diverse traditions and customs, the planning pattern observed are more regional response than guided by religion. This is well exemplified by the 'pol' houses in Ahmedabad and the Bohri houses in Siddhpur have shown a similar pattern of transition from one room to the other. The linear pattern of planning and the transitional levels of enclosures are rooted deep in the simplistic design. From the planning of overall campuses to the individual blocks of a colony, the basic levels of enclosure and movement are considered as sequential relationships in larger context. Patterns emerge out of the functional use of spaces. These patterns are demonstrated in the organised planning of the Dolma Ling Institute in Dharamshala, where the central built mass acting as the spine of design gives a direction of movement, keeping the campus in almost a gird like plan with each branch of pathway directed towards the institutional and housing units on the two sides. The space patterns results into contemplation of cultures that structure the moments of experience. The institute cultivates the knowledge imparted by the nuns and keeps the levels of enclosure controlled though a planning pattern that is purely efficient. In India, owing to complex traditions, the spaces created experiences for more than one function, which thereby, become more sustainable. This fact enhances the planning by introducing elemental spaces that encourages multiple functions. One such component that has always been celebrated in the design phenomenology is a courtyard. Punctures in the built mass, these central spaces serve as the prime important space open for various activities. Courtyards – the central open-to-sky spaces have marked their presence since the architecture of late civilizations of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The concept of ‘togetherness’ is taken to an apex through this. Since then, the ‘court’ has always been an essential entity in planning principles in India. Ranging from the havelis in Rajasthan and Hyderabad to the mosques and Jain temples across the nation, courtyards are rooted deep into Indian methods of planning, also seen in the community housing. Not only the residential typology Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

The Future Kids School in Karnataka delivers a sense of security through the built mass structuring the courtyards and corridors. (Image: courtesy Ar B C Sudhir Reddy)

Spaces that have the ability to cater to more than one function in them become more sustainable. This fact enhances the planning by introducing elemental spaces that encourages multiple functions.


For sustainability to fully take hold, it must be understood within the broad cultural scope and the users that are embodied. Architecture has not merely been a means for providing shelter, but has operated as a constructed model of cultural reflections and a vehicle embodying the temporal understanding of the world in which we live.



The Samskruta Pathashala in Karnataka imparts knowledge through ancient methods to promote the studies of 'Vedas' and the 'Shastras'. (Image: courtesy Gayathri and Namith Archtiects)

Dakshinachitra reflects the local repercussions manifested as a live museum of ancient epoch of Tamil Nadu. (Image: courtesy Vedika Archtiects)

of structures, but the idea of central open space is also realised well in the old bazaars in India. These open spaces encourage the irregular flow of functions. An extensive range of building typologies incorporates one or many courtyards to sustain manifold functions and is continuously seen in many contemporary buildings. Similar codes of design are adopted in the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru where the courtyards and corridors brings in the openness inside the building. The corridors and courtyards provide transparent spaces that not only make the structure light but also promote the students for an unbounded learning premise. Yet indeed, courtyards have been the essential space in the history of architecture that is timeless and informs a space that evocates the spirit of life. Spatial boundaries are needed to define spaces and these spatial boundaries created by the inward facing façades around the courts deliver a sense of security. The Future Kids School in Uttrakhand has promoted to use of courtyards for moulding the children through group associations and boosting the communal attitude of learning and living. The inner courtyards provide the children with open and secured spaces to improve the learning atmosphere. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



Craftsmanship cherished to its peak at Khamir – Craft Park built during the post-earthquake time in Bhuj. (Image: courtesy Prof Neelkanth Chhaya)

Inherent in their own style, these elements have multiple inferences. The evolution and development of architecture has shown repercussions that the spaces so formulated become transition spaces around which the covered spaces are encompassed. These spaces bring in the natural space into the built space to which, we, the human beings build a special bond and close the loop of ecological balance. Courts also suggest how man has always stayed connected with the nature, since the natural space and built space needs a harmonious blend. These built forms nourish the cultural activities of the vicinity. For sustainability to fully take hold, it must be understood within the broad cultural scope and the users that are embodied. Architecture has not merely been a means for providing shelter, but has operated as a constructed model of cultural reflections and a vehicle embodying the temporal understanding of the world in which we live. Exemplary to the idea of spreading cultural knowledge of Karnataka, Samskruta Pathashala in Karnataka is intended to promote the study of 'Vedas' and 'Shastras'. Retaining the cultural and intellectual riches of that region, the institute imparts knowledge in the most ancient methods. A question might arise as to why is it necessary to run the institute by following the older methods. The answer holds in continuing the connectedness of the ancient times and to respect the regional values. The museum of Dakshinachitra in Tamil Nadu mirrors the elemental art of its region. The agenda of the living village was to make a live museum of buildings of the region and create a timeless architecture within itself, where people can see the entire region in a singular visit. In contemporary times, it is important for generations to know how their culture has evolved and how its influences have shaped the built environment and how the needs are met uphold. On the similar lines of showcasing the place, Khamir in Kutch reflects the needs of the people for being manifested as a result of the post earthquake repairs; it also provides the locals with an economy generative project and also, a museum that showcases the essence of the desert arts of Bhuj and implicit livelihood. These models are sustainable through its very idea of reflecting the way of life. Khamir, however, also reflects best in the craftsmanship of the Kutch region. As man learns communicative arts the surroundings, he implements his learning through building Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

In the most contemporary approach of restoration and heritage conservation, architects have attempted to bring the epoch back in today’s world by also having given a touch of the most modern design approach to restore the classical craftsmanship.


RAAS, a perfect blend of the contemporary design ideas amalgamated with the local craftsmanship of Jodhpur. (Image: courtesy Lotus Design Services and Andre J Fanthome)

physical structures. Native elements of art and design are more often observed in vernacular architecture, but even today every contemporary project has a touch of craftsmanship. Varying from region to region, a change is seen in the final product; the collective forms resemble to each other of a particular region and yet the typology remains a curiosity regardless of its function. A threat of losing the originality may arise on seeing the constantly changing cultures as and when they blend with the foreign cultures migrated from different places. The resulting product may not replicate the exact motifs but the newly built structure hold a perk if they manage to liquefy the contemporary finishes with the native ones. RAAS in Jodhpur is one-of-its-kind resort, seamlessly merging with its context and replicating the original art of locality, yet in most modern visual connect. These projects thrive to cater the cultural specifics of its locality. The concern of retaining local identity is in the favour of the contemporary architecture that allows the present day designers to accept the challenges of ‘place-making’ in the contextual reference and produce designs that sail through the threat of losing its local identity. Kenneth Frampton 5 in his easy “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture for Resistance” talks about ‘place-making’ as a contemporary architectural response that appropriates the context that would have tendencies to be linked with local traditions and regional particulars. This indeed must be well understood today and attempts should be made not to replicate the native style but to create new styles that reflect those original styles. Many of the elements described by Frampton lend themselves to the pursuit of an architecture whose responsiveness to local conditions leads to a larger good of the system which we live in. This benefits both, to greater energy and material efficiencies, and also addresses local cultural mores and built traditions, leading to not only greener but also more meaningful architecture which depart from the canon of universalising ‘modernism’. ↑

The restoration and reuse of Ranvas at Fort Complex of Nagaur in Rajasthan appropriates the heritage conservation through a modern approach of refurbishment of dead palaces. (Image Courtesy: M/s Minakshi Jain Architects)

In the most contemporary approach of restoration and heritage conservation, architects have attempted to bringing the epoch back in today’s world by also having given a touch of most modern design approach to restore the classical craftsmanship. The restoration and reuse of 'Ranvas' at the Fort Complex of Nagaur characterises the craftsmanship to its peak. The Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


From its very formation, the ‘sustainable’ architecture in its natural behaviour is climate responsive and naturally ventilated. In fact, the structure of a natural place was shaped by the elements that make up the place. As the design was based on the orientation and spatial balance, the spaces created unsurprisingly benefitted in keeping the structure climatically sustainable. ↑

Motivated by the use of local materials, the Inspiration Office in Kerela has a placate climate performance. (Image: courtesy INSPIRATION)

paintings, the columns, the brackets and 'jaalis' reflect the very native art of Rajasthan. Another example of fusing the native ‘looks’ of the 'haveli' and incorporating the elemental ‘modernity’, the Fort Complex, after restoration, is brought to life by intervening into the non-functioning areas. This intervention refers back to what Vale and Vale 6 have mentioned about buildings, to be defined as sustainable, “One way to achieve longevity and avoid demolition is to design buildings that are capable of adapting to the users”. Adding to the historic planning, the new unit is designed such that the spatial organisations respond to the climatic concerns of the region. From its very formation, the ‘sustainable’ architecture in its natural behaviour is climate responsive and naturally ventilated. In fact, the structure of a natural place was shaped by the elements that make up the place. As the design was based on the orientation and spatial balance, the spaces created unsurprisingly benefitted in keeping the structure climatically sustainable. A more appropriate design is generated by the geographical location and the typical climate of the place. Looking back into past and realising the very point of constructing the Bhungas in Kutch and the Bamboo Houses in Assam region, it evidently shows how local materials are utilised for building the structures while the form and volumes are created to react to the climate. The land forms defining the tectonics of the locality mould the outcome to a wide extent. The cylindrical structure of Bhungas in Kutch, made up of mud, twigs and dung and roof made of bamboo and thatch easily withstand the harsh climate and the frequent earthquakes experienced. Conceptually on same principles of designs, to withstand the geographical situations, the Bamboo Houses in Assam are detailed to battle the heavy monsoons. Erected on the stilts to permit the easy flow of water, the space beneath is used to store the canoe. Local materials like mud and bamboo, in itself lasts for about ten years after seen as a structural component and formulates a sustainable building by protecting the users from harsh extremes. These materials having unique properties are used largely even today which is actualised by The Inspiration Office building in Kerala. To suit to the tropical climate of Kerala, this building extensively uses bamboo and the structure certainly retaliates back the human comfort. Transparent in its built form, the office building is result of the locally referred buildings and is successful experiment of replicating them. Orientation of the building amplifies the results in case of large campus designs as well as in the case of modular buildings. The notions of making an entire neighbourhood sustainable majorly define the planning of large campuses as per directional orientation. The Mewar Complex Project in Rajsamand region of Rajasthan exemplifies best of the planning resulted out of tangible context that affirms the climatic challenges. Made up of rubble masonry, campus blends with the surrounding rocks while the internal division tidily organises spaces creating light and shadow of the element making up of the buildings therein. Certain materials can be used in the extremely contradicting climates in zones of India, like the Kargyak Learning Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

The orientation of the Mewar Complex Project creates light and shadow patterns to make the spaces comfortable as it fits well in the undulated topography of the Rajsamand, Rajasthan. (Drawing: courtesy Arya Architects)


In the hilly region of Himachal Pradesh, the Kargyak Learning Centre is built of locally available stones, combating the cold climatic conditions. (Image: courtesy © arch i platform, New Delhi)

The organic architecture continues to grow and yet the ‘designed’ spaces befit the existing strata of the built environment. A perfect balance of native context and the urban context is hence seen in the cited examples.

Contemporary design of the Circuit Bungalows for Central Bank of Sri Lanka built on stilts responds to the tropical showers of the region. (Image: courtesy Jayanath Silva and Eresh Weerasooriya)

Centre in Himachal Pradesh that also uses the stone that are available from the vicinity. The form of the building remains constant, relating to the physical need of building in most modern times, in the case where vernacular materials are not used. The buildings adapting a contemporary architectural language can be linked to common vernacular architectural structures such as the Kandalama Hotel, Sri Lanka and the Circuit Bungalows for Central Bank of Sri Lanka that uses non-vernacular materials – concrete, steel and glass. Landscape as it directly affects the building, the form and type of construction primarily affects. Hence, a typology of built form is derived as per location and landscape where the materials in current period of architecture vary from vernacular to conventional. Modern architecture shows interests in relating to the native contexts; however it becomes less relative when the context is modern. To an extent of understanding the ‘contextual architecture’ through the palpable factors, today, the buildings have modified the frame of reference. In the past when the inception of civilizations begun, the frames through which context was seen were the rivers, hills and horizons. But now, the neighbourhood context is considered prime factor of making a contextually viable building. Immediate objects like a street and a neighbourhood building become obvious reference. The organic architecture continues to grow and yet the ‘designed’ spaces befit in the existing strata of the built environment. The present architects have attempted to create a perfect balance of native context and the urban context. Need becomes the driving factor to define the programme. Programme by itself remains constant depending on the typology. Yet, no building resulting out of relative programmes can be replicated out of its context. Contextually sustainable buildings by themselves become regional architecture and cannot be duplicated out of their region. In a nation like India where all the zones experience tremendously different landscapes, the architecture also celebrates a wide range of diversity in building typologies inclusive of its planning, materials and methods of construction and rich culture and variable traditions.

References: 1. Carmona, M , Tiesdell, S , Heath, T and Oc, T (2003). Public Places, Urban Spaces: The Dimensions of Urban Design. Elsevier Ltd. 2. Johnson, P (1994). The Theory of Architecture: Concepts Themes and Practices. John Wiley & Sons Inc. 3. Schulz, N (1979 ). Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. Rizzoli. 4. Assmann, J (2007, first published 1992) Das kulturelle Gedächtnis. CH Beck. 5. Frampton, K (1983) Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance” in H Foster (ed) the Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Port Townsend, Washington. Bay Press. 6. Vale, B and Vale, R (1991). Design for a Sustainable Future, London. Thames and Hudson. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Treading the Earth Gently Analysing architecture through its response to the environment and the cycle of managing resources from procurement to execution and maintenance, this essay discussed issues of sustainability beyond architecture, to encompass economic, social and political impacts and remediation as well. Text: Anusha Narayanan


ould it be alright if we called architecture ‘destructive’? It is quite an oxymoron – ‘Destructive Architecture’. The very art and science of creating and building, is the act of plundering the earth and the environment. In this essay, which discusses the aspects of Environmental Performance and Resource Management, there are many unspoken factors as well, like economic, politics and societal pressures that run in the background. There is also, the constant friction in our world – the world of architects – between romanticism and objectivity. The emotionally or aesthetically appealing concepts of sustainability sometimes lead us to believe that satisfying the emotional and aesthetic needs of the people fulfils our part in the entire movement. However, what constitutes ‘Sustainability’ is the entire evaluation of the project from manufacturing of materials, transportation, construction, occupancy, maintenance and eventually the ability to dismantle or demolish what was created by us. Thus countering the perspective that architecture should be ‘timeless’, is the need for it to be ‘impermanent’. In a country undeniably shaped by economics, service to neither seems as prevalent today. Our challenge is the designing in that gap between development and economics, between social agendas and environmental crisis, between traditional wisdom or somewhat common sense and technology; between affordance and theory. Hence, in order to analyse the ecological landscape of architecture in India, we shall also analyse those projects that not only satisfy the societal aspects of sustainability but also the economic and environmental needs. It is a known fact that the construction industry plays a huge role in the amount of pollution caused in the world. In ‘Can Sustainable Construction be Economical?’, Lucas Bretschger 1 graphically plots the emission of carbon dioxide against a timeframe of 2010 to 2030, projecting that according to the current gradient, the emission of carbon dioxide because of the construction of buildings will increase to about 25 per cent of the total emission of carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere. For construction, therefore, it is not only essential that we choose materials that cause least pollution post-construction but also for manufacturing. Using locally available materials or recycling materials from other buildings or waste can be one of the approches but not that many buildings are torn down every day to reuse their components as compared to the new constructions. Recently, the usage of eco-friendly materials has seen a consistent rise in the country. But a lot of our reluctance or slowness in accepting earth as a building material is the perception that clay or earth is ‘architecture of the poor’ but this definitely needs a rethink today. Diebedo Francis Kéré from Burkina Faso, built a secondary school in Gando, a community based project which even the locals doubted would withstand the climate; it shot to fame after being awarded the Holcim Award Gold in 2012. That project that today has been functional for eleven years is built completely in clay, facilitating students in a Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

environmental performance and resource management


Renewable Sources of Energy: The Solar Kitchen, Auroville derives its name from the huge bowl on its terrace, that generates enough solar energy to cook meals for the many inhabitants of Auroville daily. The building doubles up with stabilised earth construction creating a building of minimal footprint. (Image: courtesy Suhasini Ayer, Auroville)

The beauty of earth as a material is in its abundance and the fact that if destroyed, it can be returned to where it originated from – the soil.

much cooler and comfortable building as compared to what concrete as a material would have offered. Kéré 2 mentions, “Achieving sustainability in developing countries requires confronting conventional concepts of progress and modernity. Bernard Rudofsky’s 1964 book ‘Architecture without Architects’ challenged the prevailing views of the day and remains highly relevant today. Rudofsky opposed the ideas of Le Corbusier and other architects who believed Western technology was the solution to problems around the world. He believed that developing nations are not backward – they have their own technologies and knowhow. Together with a host of emerging contemporary architects around the world, I am trying to revive traditional building methods and materials and combine them with modern innovations.” The beauty of earth as a material is in its abundance and the fact that if destroyed, it can be returned to where it originated from – the soil. So in terms of its life cycle, it is much more ecological than many others as it reduces the energy and money required for processes like manufacture, transportation and construction of the structure. Stabilised earth excavated from the foundation of buildings is now used to form blocks or used as poured compacted earth walls, keeping the interiors of buildings automatically cool. The Vikas Community and Realisation Community projects both in Auroville are some of the earliest examples where this method was tried, tested and proven to be a stable and long term solution to using ecologically friendly materials. The Vikas Community by Satprem Maïni, a World Habitat Awards finalist for the year 2000, was one of the first to be developed in Auroville that used stabilised earth from foundation to roof, to the extent that the entire third building was constructed using the earth that was excavated from the first two. Both Housings not only use environmentally sound materials as the primary building material by means of stabilised rammed earth foundations, compressed stabilised earth blocks for walls, vaults and domes, stabilised earth plaster for walls exposed to rain and sun and stabilised earth mortar, but also use arches, vaults and domes to eliminate the use of reinforced concrete cement slabs and concrete footings. While Vikas Community further uses photovoltaic panels solar pumps for gardening alongside with a windmill with a pump, the Realisation Community uses an Earth Tunnel, with a fan that pushes hot air in a pipe which runs deep first 15 metres into the bottom of the rainwater harvesting tank and then 20 metres in the ground. The system cools the air by heat exchange which is blown into residential units. Both the projects have surface and roof rainwater harvesting systems in place and the former even makes use of a biological wastewater treatment system (lagoon system) for a holistic environmental performance. In a similar context, in the Lisbeth House by Shama Dalvi, RCC has been kept to a minimum and a combination of traditional and alternate methods have been used in tandem such as foundations made of compressed earth blocks, the ceilings of stones resting on RCC precast Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Performance through materials: The Development Alternatives Headquarters by Ashok B Lall was built using mud and fly ash as materials and ferrocement channels to reduce cement and steel consumption. Green vegetation on the façade and cavity walls further help reduce energy consumption.

beams, locally available granite lintels and columns; wood, wherever used, is of the Palmyra, an indigenous wood that is termite and borer proof. On the other hand, in the Development Alternatives Headquarters Office in New Delhi mud and fly ash have been used as materials along with timber saving on 30 per cent of the embodied energy and ferrocement channels with stone slabs as substitutes for the heavy concrete slabs statistically acquiring about 90 per cent of the materials within the vicinity of the site. Planting on the building façade and cavity walls, natural ventilation and lighting, and built-in shading devices, evaporative cooling in the hot and dry weather and air conditioning only in the humid months, reduced the operational energy consumption by 40 per cent along with 100 per cent water efficiency through rainwater harvesting and recycle, wastewater treatment and recharge of groundwater after treating the surplus wastewater. We know that in building with care, with the sun but not heat, orientation to the sun plays a major role in moderating the amount of energy spent in the functioning of buildings, however, the sun and all other renewable sources of energy are grossly underused, largely because of the initial installation costs involved in using solar panels or wind mills. According to the Centre for Science and Environment 3, “The energy demand for the building sector has already increased from 14 per cent in the 1970s to nearly 33 per cent in 2005 due to a near consistent 8 per cent increase in annual building energy consumption growth. The residential and commercial sector consumes more than a quarter of the total electrical supply usage of the country and major portion of this is utilised in the buildings.” So perhaps facing the sun is one of the possible solutions using renewable sources of energy. But if using the energy of the sun is the answer then what is the question? Maybe, how do we pay for installation and supply of solar energy? On a national level, how do we distribute an expensive source of free energy in a country where many live in the dark? And how does one manufacture this technology economically? These are questions that not only raise huge economic debates but also those that trigger the politics of energy distribution. However, till this standardisation of a system takes place on a national level, through various government policies such as the National Solar Mission Phase II draft guidelines by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the National Clean Energy Fund and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) 4, our agenda is to explore how architecture, practiced outside this domain of governance, can also make use of these revolutionary sources of energy through projects that bring these issues to the forefront of the practice. The Solar Kitchen at Auroville by Suhasini Ayer is a community kitchen that resolves its Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



Renewable Sources of Energy + Landscaping: Our Native Village resort by Biome Environmental aims for self-sufficiency using photovoltaic cells and bio-gas generators as sources of energy. The vegetation on the site is also edible, and there is also an organic farm which produces food for consumption on the resort. (Image: courtesy Biome Environmental)

But if using the energy of the sun is the answer then what is the question? Maybe, how do we pay for installation and supply of solar energy? On a national level, how do we distribute an expensive source of free energy in a country where many live in the dark? And how does one manufacture this technology economically?

own energy needs. It derives its name from the solar bowl on its roof that generates steam for cooking and serving 300 meals everyday besides being a good coffee and hangout place for the youth. Furthermore, the kitchen also has an integrated water management system wherein surface runoff from the roof and ground are used for recharge of the aquifer, all waste water including black water is recycled and the solid waste is segregated, recycled or used for composting. Our Native Village resort in Karnataka situated in the 12 acre organic farm in a fragile zone focuses on self-sufficiency in term of energy and nearly no ecological impact with 43 per cent of the energy being produced by photovoltaic cells and 22 per cent by bio-gas generator from kitchen and industrial waste. About 60 per cent of its water requirements are met by harvesting rainwater. The entire landscape grows edible plants and medicinal herbs which can be consumed into the resort and also has an organic farm where food is grown for the restaurant. The debate on environment versus architecture however, is incomprehensive without a discussion on the issues of efficient land use, landscape design, rain water harvesting (water management) and waste management. Landscaping plays a huge role in controlling the microclimate of any designed environment. Proper zoning of the site for open and green spaces, creation of passages for flow of air and the usage of vegetation and water bodies for cooling are the most energy efficient responses in site planning. Planting the right trees in the right parts of the site ensures that light and warmth remains within reach in winters and the shade of the trees protect us from the sun in summers. Location of water bodies and integration of the water systems with rainwater harvesting, evaporative cooling and landscaping systems are all tied together to environmental performance and resource management and therefore cannot be mitigated in afterthought. The Palmyra House by Studio Mumbai weaves the architecture of a ‘non-building’ with the landscape of the site in an effortless warp of foliage, water and enclosures that overlook this melancholy. Standing on stone platforms the buildings overlook an interesting system of aqueducts and wells, while the pool is set in an open patch between the buildings. Built in locally available ain hardwood and fenestrated using extensive louvres of the namesake Palmyra trunk, the house sits in the ecology of the place without much friction, or liabilities such as embodied energy or energy consumption given its orientation and placement in the shade of thick vegetation all around it. But in this case, although the landscape has not been designed, nevertheless it has been respected. In a similar fashion the Dunhill Beach Resort by Architecture BRIO uses the approach of blending into its context but goes beyond this, Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


The Shrujan Trust Building in Bhujodi uses thick walls, shaded and deep courtyards, less water consuming vegetation, small openings, a wind tower and rainwater harvesting methods to sustain itself against the heat of the region. (Image: courtesy Indigo Architects)

touching upon the idea of dismantling. Built as temporary sheds to accommodate the heavy inflow of tourists to Goa in the peak seasons, the Dunhill Resort uses sustainable materials which, as opposed to the yearly waste generated by conventional materials, are less harmful and can be dismantled and put together the following year. The temporary shacks made of timber, boxing within them beds, toilets and storage cabinets, and accommodating the wiring within the grooves in the timber sections, provide recyclable architecture to tourists. Located in a seismically active zone, the Shrujan Trust Building at Bhujodi by Indigo Architects speaks of such conscious and determined efforts to practice architecture on the variable landscapes of Gujarat and that too with the indispensable intent of contextualism and sustainability. The project demands care for the seismic stability and the harsh weather of the desert which was well addressed by the massive protective walls, the deeply shaded courtyards capable of harvesting 100,000 litres of rainwater and recharge tanks in the parking, minimal direct openings into the sun and wind towers on the South façade of the building which also act as stabilisers for the building as a precaution against earthquakes. Dilli Haat at Pitampura by Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates, on the other hand gives a social arena, a craft and spice market, a sculpture court, and art gallery, eateries and gathering spaces, qualities of longevity and ease of maintenance for sustainability. Constructed with vaulted green roofs, and onsite sewage treatment plant and materials like brick paving, steel columns and local stone, the plazas are interrupted by planters and greens to create an airy easily maintained campus. Revitalisation of depleting landscapes is an aspect of sustainability that is hardly ever spoken about as a standalone factor that influences the environment, perhaps because our analysis of the impact of landscape goes to the extent of scrutinising designed landscapes that help increase the comfort or usability of the architecture it complements, but over the past few years there have been a few attempts at regeneration of eroding landscapes and reforestation. Ispat, one of the world’s largest gas-based mega module Sponge Iron (Direct Reduced Iron or DRI) plants, is an industrial setting choked with dusts emitted during the transportation, manufacturing and handling of materials and the factory operations. In a 1200 acre area, the site was chosen for a landscape plan that would complement the office premises. In a subtle yet effective approach extensive planting was done to reduce the impacts of the pollutants from the industry, ‘nalla’ edges were redefined and replanted Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Landscaping plays a huge role in controlling the microclimate of any designed environment. Proper zoning of the site for open and green spaces, creation of passages for flow of air and the usage of vegetation and water bodies for cooling are the most energy efficient responses in site planning.

Landscaping: The Dilli Haat at Pitampura in Delhi, by Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates incorporates landscaped plazas, vaulted green roofs and sewage treatement systems to create an open campus interweaving art, craft, retail, tourism and performances. (Image: courtesy Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates).

and the channels were unclogged by slag fines. With an ambitious scale of planting almost 20,000 trees of varied species on the east of the site, the Landscape Design of Ispat Industries Masterplan by SE-ARCH – Studio for Environment and Architecture, ventured between regeneration and conservation in an industrial context. Even more endearing as an approach, the Dhrangadhra Chemical Works Landcape Restoration project by Iora Studio traces the entire process of turning barren land to green. The factory of Dhrangadhra Chemical Works – a soda ash manufacturing unit – had been functioning in the region for over five decades and had contaminated some of the surrounding land around its unit for dumping waste and by-products like fly ash. The project involved the rethinking of the entire barren stretch of land into spaces such as schools, civic buildings and a cricket ground and revitalisation of the top soil in order to increase the green cover, something that should not have been lost in the first place. The attempt is admirable however lengthy, using features specific to a rainfall short area as this place, such as recycling of the rainwater instead of recharge and growing species of trees that are native and not dependant on manicuring. The rejuvenation of the top soil to restore some fertility has been done using nitrogen fixation and bio-mass generation. These projects bring the stark reality of industrial development right into our domain of discussion, of whether we can afford to lose entire regions or belts of natural vegetation in the name of progress, an act with grave ecological implications. They also set standards for many other industries to follow, of giving back to nature and checking the incorrigible practice of dumping wastes. Lastly we shall consider some of the debates that have been ongoing ever since the advent in the ‘green architecture’ revolution in the country, whether LEED or TERI GRIHA ratings set standards for sensible and sustainbale architecture. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a private initiative undertaken by IGBC, the Indian Green Building Council. The IGBC is a part of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). It has been promoting the cause of sustainable measures in buildings for over a decade. According to the IGBC website, LEED- India "promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognising performance" in the areas of sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Parallel to this is the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) which has been conceived by the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and jointly developed by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) as the national rating system for buildings. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Regeneration of Depleting Landscapes: The Landscape Design of Ispat Industries Masterplan by SE-ARCH – Studio for Environment and Architecture introduced 20,000 trees into the site and revitalised the storm water drainage system to improve the environmental response of the industrial setup. (Image: courtesy SE-ARCH – Studio for Environment and Architecture)

So this clarifies that neither of the rating systems are government initiated and are purely privately conceived. There are some positives to these ratings as well. Ratings help the consumer to make informed choices by comparing buildings and also bring the issue of sustainability into the mainstream. In an article in Afritekt, a forum which discusses the idea of 'Designing and Building in Central and East Africa' titled 'Why LEED doesn’t work in rural Africa', Charles Newman 5, a LEED AP discusses the shortcomings of applying a global standard in an unsuitable context. “Project success must be considered at a larger scale to include community involvement, building techniques, financial relationships, and development. Perhaps a further expansion of these systems could include local governance engagement – bringing those responsible for their community’s development into a position to sustain the projects programmes and goals.” Although the context of rural Africa is quite different from the context of rural and urban India, the article urges us to acknowledge that one size does not fit all. India is a rapidly growing and somewhat imbalanced economy facing the challenges of growth that outpaces the dissipation of knowledge and the remediation and alteration of the predetermined standards for sustainable development. It means that sustainability in the Indian context cannot forever be an immeasurable entity that we only evaluate subjectively. At the Delhi Summit on Sustainable Development in 2011, the annual meet of the who’s-who of the global environment sector, some alarming facts were revealed by TERI 6 (The Energy and Resources Institute), one such being that India is only second to China in the scale of construction activity. It projected that the number of built office in India would “increase from 200 million square metres in 2009 to 890 million square metres by 2030“. It stressed further that “The building industry used some 81 million tonnes of material in 2010, up 9 per cent from 2009. However, as a measure of its lack of efficiency, half of the waste from construction ends up in landfills, which are getting more difficult to find as cities endlessly expand their footprint.” Like we have quantifiable waste, how does one quantify sustainability? Perhaps standards may help initiate the filling of this gaping hole in our current construction systems. Another debate was triggered off on the pricing of Renewable Sources of Energy as compared to conventional sources, which makes it the more convenient choice for a buyer, especially a middle-class buyer to whom life runs on economics, to be averse of converting to an ecologically viable lifestyle. Most real estate in India is built by developers who hardly ever have to occupy the buildings that they create, thus their bottom line is to build, market, sell, fill and evacuate. The electricity and gas bills of the occupants are hardly anything they need to sweat over. The incentive or motivation to build truly ‘green’ housing is zero. To begin with perhaps, the government institutions and larger hospitals and the hospitality industry could take a lead in setting the bar for sustainable development, out of responsibility and not just the market value of ratings and awards, instead of waiting for Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Most real estate in India is built by developers who hardly ever have to occupy the buildings that they create, thus their bottom line is to build, market, sell, fill and evacuate.

Regeneration of Depleting Landscapes: Dhrangadhra Chemical Works Landscape Restoration project by Iora Studio assures that persistence contributes to a high quality of output, with the transformation of the landscape (before - above; after - below) over the period of three years and with a projected two years more for completion.

this initiative to come from private developers alone. Unless this change in the attitude of governance does come about, most of the country shall only be left wanting for sustainable homes and get to hear of it in closed conference rooms within the domains of expertise. If architecture is a service to society, GRIHA and LEED-India may be standards that are followed by builders, developers, architects, landscapers and urban designers but the matter must be treated with far more gravity than the present state of affairs, because these ratings only set the lowest common denominator for the construction of 'green' buildings. The call for sustainability is universal and the sooner some measurable, not just marketable, standards are defined the better it shall be for the practice. References: 1. Bretschger, L (2014). The Economy of Sustainable Construction. Ruby Press, Berlin. 2. Kéré, D F (2014). The Economy of Sustainable Construction. Ruby Press, Berlin. 3. Centre of Science and Environment, New Delhi. (nd). Work Overview - Sustainable buildings, lifestyle and resource use. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). 4. Narain, S (2013). For a place in the sun. Down to Earth. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). New Delhi. 5. Newman, C (2012). Why LEED Doesn’t Work in Rural Africa. Afritekt - Designing and Building in Central and East Africa. 6. D’Monte, D (2011). Small green hope in India's burgeoning construction industry. InfoChange India News & Features Development. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Humanising Architecture through Innovations Diagnosing the much needed discussion on Sustainability across various typologies and perspectives, this essay focuses on the idea of ‘innovation’ and 'transferability' or, in other words, scalable models, replicable technologies and alternate methods of construction. Text: Anusha Narayanan


t has been 40 years since the first oil-price crisis, 20 years since the inauguration of the term 'sustainable development' by the Brundtland Commission, and five years since the financial shock of 2008. What is the state of sustainable construction? The inconvenient truth is that, although a lot of things have been discussed, little has changed in the last 40 years about our everyday behaviour or the way we construct and operate buildings.“ – Hansjürg Leibundgut 1 The call for an ecological way of life after the industrial revolution is perhaps one of the most impactful changes in the design attitudes and acumen the world over. Examining facts, theories, philosophies and practices from various perspectives, ‘sustainability’ today is more than a metaphor. It is about being functional and ecological, and yet not socially disconnected or contextually irrelevant. Innovative solutions to ecological problems do not just refer to mechanical solutions that look alien or are inappropriate within the climatic context of a region but just original approaches to design that yield better performances. It does not literally have to be a translation of Corbusier’s statement that, “a home is a machine to live in”, in a contemporary avatar. It also does not refer to systems or structures that act as an appendage and are exceedingly out of place. The parameters of contextualism, universally endorsed design principles, environmental performance and resource management, all hold true for buildings that respond to sustainability through innovations. But those built environments that display a peculiar or unique technological, systemic or methodological difference in approach from the conventional, are what we shall trace by means of this classification. ‘Innovation and technology’ is perhaps the most identifiable or perceivable attribute of sustainable architecture. In Juhani Pallasma’s 2 words, “In fact, the purely visual understanding of the art of architecture may never in history have been more dominant than in today’s architecture of the commercialised image, reinforced by the digital media and world-wide journalism. Even sustainability is most often judged by the eye as an aesthetic and symbolic aspiration rather than through an analysis of the actual performance.” By ‘innovation’ we refer to breakthrough technologies, systems and methods of construction which can be implemented in order to reduce the ecological impact of a building. ‘Transferability’ is the adaptability/scalability of these innovations through bigger modules or more easily replicable elements, concepts, techniques and systems. Together ‘innovation and transferability’ can be classified into: (1) Intelligent planning concepts, (2) Innovative systems and technologies, and (3) Alternate methods of construction. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

innovation and transferability


Intelligent planning: The Kanchanjunga Apartments in Mumbai by Charles Correa Associates makes use of double-height balconies, a reinterpretation of verandahs, for a layered reading of space that creates comfortable living conditions in the units. (Image: courtesy Charles Correa Associates)

”Even sustainability is most often judged by the eye as an aesthetic and symbolic aspiration rather than through an analysis of the actual performance.”

Design decisions made at the inception, later define the entire ecological ethos of the building falling under the classification of intelligent planning concepts. Most of these design interventions are usually derivatives or adaptations of traditional wisdom which help reduce the energy consumption of buildings through passive methods. Kanchanjunga Apartments by Charles Correa Associates is an apt example of an architectural idea that was way ahead of its time. Kanchanjunga was a breakthrough in unconventional approaches to housing, revolutionary when it was built. It not only rearticulated the layered protectiveness of the verandahs, a post-colonial design influence, and double height balconies, an innovation of the architect, but also referred to an escalating urbanisation and the changing climatic conditions of the sprawling city of the then Bombay. “A building has to be rooted in the ground on which it is built” as Correa said in one of his recent lectures, planning itself can make a building viable for the environment it is built in. Later examples of planning such as the Oberoi Udayvilas by Abhikram and the Islamic Study Centre by Yashwant Mistry also display forethought in innovation. While the former makes use of indigenous and traditional concepts like clustered planning with numerous interconnected courtyards and lime-based mortar and plaster instead of cement mortar for binding; combining a traditional style of architecture with modern functions, in not just the aesthetics but also the wisdom of designing passive climatically responsive systems, thus reducing the embodied and the consumed energy of the hotel; the latter uses structural principles in tandem with design such as the use of mortar-less brick vaults held by their own compressive strength, the use of semi-circular wind turrets for inlets regulating the ventilation and microclimate of the buildings through passive cooling and water moats which run around one of the structures for evaporative cooling. They both reduce the materials needed to run and maintain the structures thus effectively enhancing the economic and ecological performance of the building better than so-called ‘advanced’ buildings. However, it is important at this juncture to understand that efficient and innovative planning alone cannot address the entire ecological responsibilities of a building. In most cases, including the above mentioned examples, intelligent planning works in tandem with innovative systems and technologies or alternate methods of construction in order to build upon what has already been achieved by planning. For instance the Pearl Academy of Fashion in Jaipur by Morphogenesis uses orientation to the sun, usage of a louvered façade based on shadow analysis, appropriate buffering of usable spaces through corridors and enveloping verandahs that cut off the heat transfer, circulation of natural air through self-shaded Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Together ‘innovation and transferability’ can be classified into: (1) Intelligent planning concepts, (2) Innovative systems and technologies, and (3) Alternate methods of construction.

Intelligent planning: At The Pearl Academy of Fashion in Jaipur, by Morphogenesis, self-shading sliver courtyards keep the sun out and help regulate temperature and daylighting of the study areas. The perforated outer skin is derived from computational shadow analysis, based on the orientation of the façades. (Image: © Edmund Sumner)

sliver courtyards and staircases, for maintaining a healthy environment inside the institute. Similar projects that satisfy intelligent planning as well as innovative structural systems and technologies and combine the two to formulate buildings that sit lightly on the earth are the Healthcare Centre at Dharmapuri by Flying Elephant Studio and the Centre of Hope by Hundredhands which we shall elaborate in detail, further in the essay. The working of built environment usually concerns systems and services, the mechanical and technological parts of the building. Over the past few decades, one has consistently seen a rise in the number of ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart buildings’ expanding to the scale of ‘smart cities’. Townships and towers of intelligent ‘boxes’ eyewashing the buyers into 'green' properties in the real estate industry (commercial offices and housing), has become a common practice. Sadly, there is nothing ’smart’ or ‘intelligent’ about any of these innovations except that they are slaves to technology and create spaces whose embodied energy and consumption for sustenance should rightfully discard them as rather unsophisticated and wasteful. They also make lazy users who think their stake in the entire debate goes just as far as snapping their fingers to switch of the lights or using ‘less-water’ urinals. They show no premise in design or original thought rather just replicate mindlessly, systems that are not sustainable in developing economies, aiming at making the quick buck. The economics of sustainability is perhaps the biggest detriment to most developing nations. It caters to the aspirational needs or the greed and thirst of the consumer who feels a misplaced sense of pride and sophistication in owning a property in one of the many ‘greenest luxury towers of the world’, with almost no background on the impact of their investments in wasteful designs or the word ‘sustainability’. In ‘Reinventing Technology Locally’ 1, Hansjurg Leibundgut articulates, “We have to accept the progress of technology, but we also need a new technological revolution, one based on local materials, manufacturing, and energy resources. There neither is a uniform global policy that will effectively achieve sustainable development, nor should such an approach exist for sustainable development.” As architecture, as culture, sustainability has to mean different things in different countries. It cannot be as easy as creating systems that sense your presence to switch on the lights. It has to be more sensitive than that. The problem also lies herein that innovative systems and technologies which truthfully address sustainable architecture have perhaps not evolved into a more ‘transferable’ Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Intelligent Planning + Innovative Systems: The Primary Healthcare Centre at Dharmapuri by Flying Elephant Studio combines the universal design principle of favourable orientation with the subtle layering of spaces, providing a louvered verandah enveloping the inner building to buffer the heat and sun out. An inverted roof further helps collect rainwater. (Image: courtesy Flying Elephant Studios)

It caters to the aspirational needs or the greed and thirst of the consumer who feels a misplaced sense of pride and sophistication in owning a property in one of the many ‘greenest luxury towers of the world’, with almost no background on the impact of their investments in wasteful designs or the word ‘sustainability’.

form in India or other developing countries because of the constant tug-of-war between environmental needs and economic demands, but there have been sincere attempts in tackling the issue through brave interventions in giving comfortable and eco-friendly environments. The South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre by Anagram Architects, with its efficient climate responsive planning like orientation to the site and the usage of the dynamic ‘breathing thermal barrier’, a twirling layered brick screen wall that modulates the protection from sun and heat and the permission of air to enter the building, testifies this classification. Because these innovations are usually not and cannot be implemented in projects of larger magnitude immediately, residential architecture is the playground for such explorations. A wide range of housing and habitat solutions have been recognised, of different scales and types, addressing the issues of sustainability, identifying with different regions of the country. The Shrujan Trust Building in Bhujodi by Indigo Architects, in the hot and dry West and the Murugan House by KSM architects in the humid and equatorial southern tip of the country respond to the different contexts of the regions but use a similar innovation in doing so – a wind tower/wind catcher. However, in both the cases the supplementary planning is opposite with the former creating horizontally spread out and open spaces with deeper courtyards and minimal windows/openings, and the latter creating a compact interior to cocooning the occupants from the heat. House by a River, in Karjat by ArchitectureBRIO, however, goes back to berm and hill architecture, embedded in the hilly slopes of Matheran, stably anchoring itself into the site and letting the landscape grow on it, merging with the ecology of the place. The housing developments of Good Earth are based on the idea of building ecologically sustainable and responsible dwellings for their clients. Like most of their projects, 'Elements' at Edapally in Kerala makes use of terrace gardens in the balcony of each apartment in order to regulate the microclimate of each dwelling unit and simultaneously control the external façade of the building that thus arises as a 'vertical green' housing, in a very literal translation of the term. It is a common observation that the architecture of office buildings has somewhat been reduced to a play of façade and lighting design and repetition of a wrongly perceived ‘sophisticated’ glass façade that negates buildings into towering greenhouses. Unsuitable for our country, and more so because of the pretense of modernity put in front of the society, the fully transparent commercial and office towers devoid of sunshield act as solar collectors. The heat collected is then thrown out with air conditioning instead of any amount Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Alternate Methods: The Samode Safari Lodge by Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates adopts traditional vernacular systems of architecture from surrounding villages and combines this with a Ferrocement skin to reduce the brick and steel used for construction. (Image: courtesy Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates)

of evaporative or passive cooling, depending mostly on mechanical systems making these towers expensive and heavy. The export of these glass towers from the West to Asia, and especially the gulf countries is one of the most unhealthy and unsustainable developments of the last century. They consume far more energy and stand dumbly before the issues of environmental depletion. However, office buildings like the KMC Corporate Office in Hyderabad by Rahul Mehrotra and Associates break this stereotype of office architecture. Its steel and glass structure with an RCC framework, uses a double layered façade, a cast aluminium trellis with creepers growing atop with integrated mist irrigation, and a dedicated group of twenty gardeners employed for the regular upkeep of the façade. The entire system effectively cools the building and shows environmental and economic responsiveness as well as innovation, a positive approach to sustenance which is congruent with the region. 321 Tardeo, by sP+a (Sameep Padora and Associates), incline towards a more visibly ‘technological’ form but essentially implement the same concept of vertical landscaping with a slight variation. 321 Tardeo uses a double layer again, creating planters on each level which cover the outer façade of the building allowing the greens to grow over a period of time and cover the façade with creepers. This will, as in most such cases, reduce the heat transmission into the interiors of the building helping in keeping it cool naturally. Contextually however, the KMC Office Building reads as better fit in its own surroundings nevertheless 321 Tardeo, cannot be disregarded because of its visual semblance to a universal image of green architecture based on technology; both do their part efficiently in introducing an innovation in office towers. On the flipside, passively cooled buildings such as the Torrent Research Centre in Ahmedabad also set a benchmark in innovative sustainable practices. The Torrent Research Centre has a detailed and complex designated ventilation system, using wind towers on a project of such a scale as opposed to niche residences. These towers work as a series of inlets for channelising air and reducing energy consumption to such an extent that over the period of the past thirteen years, the project has saved enough energy in order to breakeven its cost of construction and maintenance. David Adjaye 3, while authoring ‘re-placing art and architecture’, talks about how architecture should be more radical. “Traditional architecture schooling often stresses the use of technology to develop new forms, instead of investigating the meaning of form in the time in which we live. This is a very defeatist approach, as it neglects the core purpose of architectural practice: Defining the question. There is a duality that exists – the balance between the philosophical ideas and the practical answers that architecture can offer. I propose that thinking, and the process of idea generation, is far more important that Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Unsuitable for our country, and more so because of the pretense of modernity put in front of the society, the fully transparent commercial and office towers devoid of sunshield act as solar collectors.

Alternate Methods: The Centre of Hope Orphanage in Chennai is located in the hot and humid equatorial climate of Chennai. It uses shaded terraces, filler slabs and brick vaulted roofing to build within a low budget and yet produce well-ventilated spaces. ( Image: courtesy Hundredhands)

perfecting a technique.” It is critical to point out that ‘innovation’ is a word of much lure. Our sensory understanding of ‘innovation’ and sustainability may equate the two, but fact is that innovation is a subset of technology and not vice versa, because in today’s day and age ‘innovation for the sake of it’ is really whimsical and unnecessary. Innovation, in terms of not just new unconventional techniques of using traditional materials, but also alternate techniques that use unconventional materials, is necessary as they encourage a new thought process in sustainable building construction. The Samode Safari Lodge by Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates and the Centre of Hope by Hundredhands do the same using familiar materials but in inventive ways to produce architecture of value. While the former hospitality project uses local timber roof with a structural framework on which Ferro-cement skin is laid, cutting down on the overall steel and cement used; the latter uses vaulted brick roofing and filler slabs to reduce the cost of construction and maintenance and increase the efficiency of this relatively low-budget facility for an NGO. The Healthcare Centre at Dharmapuri by Flying Elephant Studio (Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction, 2011) was also designed in a low budget, with a small footprint as a double layered building, wherein an airy verandah running around the 'building within the building' in conjunction with orientation to the sun cools the interiors, and an inverted pitched roof with a central gutter collects rainwater. These examples illustrate successful alternate techniques using familiar materials; systems with which some improvisation can be replicated on to projects of diverse scales and in similar regions. However, some alternate construction methods are still experimental and are restricted to projects of smaller scales because of issues of scalability and thus cannot be called 'transferable'. Nevertheless, it is critical to discuss them although they are not mainstream as yet, because of their potential with advancements in research and development. Stabilised earth blocks, compacted earth walls, bamboo posts and corrugated roofing sheets, bamboo prefabricated panels, thatch, terracotta hollow blocks and fly ash bricks are some alternate materials apart from recycled or reclaimed materials like wooden posts, panels, flooring, mosaics and tiles. The Anangpur Building Centre by Anil Laul is widely regarded as a work that made the paradigm shift towards exploring alternate methods of construction and successfully so, ahead of its time. Built with respect for the natural contours, the use of local stone and twisted brickwork, masonry built furniture, space frames, arches, domes and vaults as structural systems and a cohesive attempt for minimisation of construction material alongside an ecologically rational architecture, compel us to look towards it time and again and be inspired; as does the Manav Sadhna Activity Centre and Creche in Wadaj by Footprints E A R T H which ingeniously recycles municipal waste in order to create affordable Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Alternate Methods: The Inspiration Office in Kochi employs a composite system with RCC stilts, combining bamboo and concrete in structures and using ecological materials as much as possible in the moisture and bio-attack prone region of Kerala. (Image: courtesy Inspiration)

housing and address environmental pollution. Filler slabs using glass bottles, plastic bottles and bricks, stone slabs, cement bonded particle boards, clay tile covers and roofs and G I Sheets for roofing and many such recycled materials have been used to create an open campus used by the people as a community space. With a more practice-centric approach to the discussion of sustainability let us consider some practices that are dedicated to this exploration of alternate methods. Mansaram, a Bengaluru-based firm, principally takes the approach of ’responsive creativity/creative responsiveness’ as they term it, using bamboo as their main material for construction. The Earth House at Bengaluru built in stabilised earth blocks, corrugated bamboo sheets and solar panels on the sloping roofs and Bamboo Symphony, reinventing bamboo as crete walls from prefabricated panels alongside stabilised earth block walls and a green roof made of bamboo lattice grid on supports, substantiate this effort of using the 'house as a research project' and a functional one at that. Inspiration, a Kochi-based practice, among other initiatives, also looks at 'bamboo prefab' as a system of construction using a combination of prefabricated bamboo panels alongside minimal steel and concrete to replace parts of the structure with bamboo. The Inspiration Office building implements engineered bamboo construction as a predominant system is perhaps one of the largest successfully executed cluster of contemporary buildings in bamboo, although not entirely. To counteract moisture and bio-attack in the tropical rainforest climate of Kerala, the buildings are compelled to stand on RCC stilts for protection and longevity, nevertheless reducing the use of steel and cement by 70-80 per cent and its own self-load by 50 per cent. Peter Buchanan 4 in his compelling campaign 'The Big Rethink' for The Architectural Review says, “Much very good architecture is being produced in the pursuits of the green agenda. But the common flaw in this work is that it focuses on objective issues such as ecology and technology; it does not yet give due emphasis to the subjective dimensions of psychology and culture.” While this may hold true in the context of the industrialised western world, I would like to add to the same by elaborating that in India, most good or ‘sensible’ architecture Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


However, some alternate construction methods are still experimental and are restricted to projects of smaller scales because of issues of scalability and thus cannot be called 'transferable'. Nevertheless, it is critical to discuss them although they are not mainstream as yet, because of their potential with advancements in research and development

Alternate Methods: The Anangpur Building Centre has time and again been a source of inspiration for site planning and architecture that blends with the ecology of its site. The recycling of materials and alternate construction techniques like vaults, domes and arches rationalise the use and reuse of such architecture. (Image: courtesy Anangpur Building Centre)

Alternate Methods: The Manav Sadhna Activity Centre embodies experimentation in sustainable architecture, using municipal waste to create filler slabs and walls, scientifically tested to be eco-friendly, providing economical solutions. (Image: courtesy Footprints E A R T H)

already rides on the merits of being psychologically and culturally conversant, but the quantifiable or measurable aspects such as energy consumption and life cycle costs are what differentiate all ‘sensible’ architecture from ‘sustainable’ architecture. Innovations alone cannot solve the issue as they have to be replicable and scalable, but can be used in tandem with all the other criteria of sustainability, in order to mitigate ecological concerns of the inherently 'messy' act of building. Though many may argue that sustainability cannot merely have an aesthetic or visual identity and this is a result of technology which has type-casted sustainable architecture to 'look' a certain way, and that is undoubtedly true, the fact that practical and sensibly designed technologies, systems, methods, materials and alternatives transform architecture measurably, needs to be regarded as well. References: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Leibundgut, H (2014). The Economy of Sustainable Construction. Ruby Press, Berlin. Pallasma, J. Architecture and the Human Nature - searching for a sustainable metaphor. Helsinki. Adjaye, D (2012). Authoring: Re-placing Art and Architecture. Lars Muller Publications, Switzerland. Buchanan, P (2011). The Big Rethink Part 1: Towards a Complete Architecture. The Architectural Review. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Equity by Design Even as sustainable edifices are built with increasing haste, the public realm is left largely to fend for itself with its acquisition by the burgeoning private sector leaving very little open space or room to maneuver around existent paradigms. It can no longer be just enough to design to the brief, when the question of equity only reinforces the social problem. To act as a force of change, new solutions must also engender change at the macro-level, engaging with community and ecology in larger relevance than just with the site. Text: Chandrima Padmanabhan


he three E’s of sustainability may be easily repeated verbatim as textbook knowledge but rarely do they see the light of day outside of it, as detailed discussions on the topic tend to focus heavily only on the varied tenets of the Environment. While it is the more obvious aspect, Economy and Equity also factor heavily in, on the equation, perhaps more noticed in their absence as the question of sustainability remains as yet unappeased and largely localised. Rationally, the lifestyle we intend to stimulate through sustainable architecture would be expected to ensure a measured improvement in the overall quality of urban life, as a consequence. Yet, although our buildings lay claim to preserving the existent biodiversity of greenery around, allowing easy, equal access to the elements of nature, and creating community spaces within their own sites, our urban environment does not seem to have set a similar precedent for itself. Do buildings simply represent intelligent, yet isolated instances of improvement, or can they work to forge better systems that also give back to society at large, by virtue of their design? Sustainable public spaces that nourish the human spirit by creating opportunities for engagement with community and the ecology, are almost non-existent today as the built landscape is largely driven to form by market forces. In a chapter from his collection of writings, ‘The New Landscape’, notably titled Equity, Charles Correa describes how the physical environment can either reinforce social problems, or act as a force for social change. Taking into account the dynamics of sustainable living and the interim interdependencies between the built landscape and the economy, it goes without saying that the individual edifices of relevance, built with the most sustainable material palette and skill-set are effectively unsustainable solutions to the quandary if they all do not work together in a way to validate larger change in the macro environment. In the past, when city planning was the initiative of the State, an equitable distribution of opportunities and services was the main motivation behind the design process. With the liberalisation of the structure and nature of the economy, in the early 1990s, the state has gradually withdrawn from active large-scale urban participation, as the private sector shoulders the responsibility of development. Unsurprisingly, and much to the detriment of the urban populous and their quality of life, city development has been increasingly commoditised since, to make space for SEZ’s, widened roads at the cost of sidewalks, and private enclaves that have mushroomed on its outskirts, in increasing rapidity, for the strict pleasure of only those that can afford them. As there exists no clear national or city-level policies to manage urban growth, it continues to proceed, unhindered, in a haphazard manner, particularly in major metropolises. Valuable land is bought and sold, with very little effort made to protect public interest. The most affected sphere of development thereby is that of the public realm, with the planning of open and accessible public space becoming one of the most neglected aspects of the resultant process.

Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

sustainability as a public asset


Although our buildings lay claim to preserving the existent biodiversity of greenery around, allowing easy, equal access to the elements of nature, and creating community spaces within their own sites, our urban environment does not seem to have set a similar precedent for itself.


The Bandra Bandstand, designed by PK Das and Associates is a simple, modest and practical design of a promenade that allows people to walk along the water's edge, in a city where an uninterrupted walk is a distinct luxury. (Image: courtesy Sonal Devraj)

A sense of spatial injustice pervades cities as the undue preoccupation with cloistered, segregated utopias for a small percentage of the population is largely exclusive of the rest. Following the recommendations of the World Bank, the construction of housing supply was left to the private sector, with the state merely acting as a facilitator in the process, and while increasing masses of land were cordoned off from the public to build ‘Privatopias’ for the fortunate, 60 per cent of the population, in Mumbai, for example, continued not to have access to formal housing.1 The main reason developers tended to refrain from entering the low-income market was due to the perceived risk associated with buyers who lacked access to formal finance, the developmental requisite that has become synonymous with the times. The equally growing indifference of the municipal and administrative government did not help matters, and was perhaps most obviously discerned in their appropriation of the Mill Lands, in Mumbai. The 600 acre cotton mill area was rendered largely obsolete in the early 1990s, due to increased competition with the global market and the renewed focus on industrialisation. With the mill owners keen on selling to the private sector and the developers eager to develop such prime real estate, the Charles Correa Committee was set up in 1996, by the government, to hasten its planning and development. The Committee proposed that the monetarily beneficial development of the land for commercial and residential purposes could be initiated on one third of the area, on the condition that one third be reinstated back to the city for the provision of desperately needed amenities and another third assigned to cooperatives for affordable housing; an ideal situation for all the stakeholders involved, with everyone looking to gain. However, several mill owners privately negotiated their own deal with the government, developing all the land for individual, commercial gain without giving any back to the city for the mutual benefit of civic infrastructure. These areas are now being developed as large-scale gated communities for the elite; walled-in buildings, with small, fragmented, privatised and underused green spaces and an inadequate road system struggling to accommodate the present flux of automobiles. While such polarising responses to the predicament exist, the development of housing schemes like the Life Insurance Corporation housing in Ahmedabad by Balkrishna Doshi, displaces such misappropriation to a certain extent. Motivated by the principle of being socially inclusive, the terraced arrangement allowed families of different income groups to be housed in a single duplex, each housing unit covering a different area, and being priced differently to coalesce in a pyramidal arrangement. Expansions and modifications to each unit were expected to be facilitated as families and circumstances changed, and in the process of negotiations with their neighbours, instilling an integral sense of community amongst them. Such schemes make for more sustainable communities as their simultaneous engagement at both scales is critical for a holistic discussion on the scope of sustainability. In a time where increasing hoardings Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


A sense of spatial injustice pervades cities as the undue preoccupation with cloistered, segregated utopias for a small percentage of the population is largely exclusive of the rest.

The Life Insurance Corporation Housing by BV Doshi allows families of different income groups to be housed in a single duplex, instilling a sense of community amongst them. (Image: courtesy Vastu Shilpa Consultants)

blatantly advertise model lifestyles that can be espoused in the varied gated communities spread across a city, it is important to design beyond the constraints of narrow minded briefs to create inclusive environments that economically and socially sustain themselves and the public at large. Open spaces, or the lack thereof, is another issue that we are forced to contend with, in India; their importance forgotten and their intrinsic benefits ignored. As City Development plans fail to provide guidelines for the protection, conservation and enhancement of open spaces, most private developments ensconce public space away from the people making it a part of the private realm. Even the open space mandated by large-scale development is promptly redeveloped to cater to more housing, due to which India has some of the highest spot densities world over, though it does not have as many skyscrapers.2 The key aspect to strong communities is effective public space. Spaces such as parks, plazas, markets, coffee shops are most valuable and valued when accessible to all, inviting and conducive to activity, and encouraging of social interaction. Public space also naturally drives economic and ecological relevance, as they preserve the natural, green spaces within the city and stimulate an animated and burgeoning street life around them, resplendent with local cafes, stalls, street performers, stores and amenities. Unfortunately, a recent New York Times article quoted a Mumbai Metropolitan Region Environment Improvement Society’s study of the city, which found that it effectively offered each resident only 0.88sqm of open space, in comparison to Tokyo and New York which offers each resident 6sqm and 2.5sqm respectively. Apart from the ocean and seafront in the more fortunate cities, there exists very little public or open space of any value in a city housing millions, as open spaces often remain inaccessible, encroached upon or only partially accessible. Relevant attempts to preserve the sea-facing stretches in different cities, when well-designed, are extremely well populated and popular places for communion. Mumbai-based PK Das & Associates’ restoration of Carter Road and the Bandra Bandstand are noteworthy examples as they diligently work on the democratisation of Mumbai’s public, open spaces. In 1997, a survey conducted by the firm on the cities’ waterfronts, documented the coastline degradation and proposed ideas for its regeneration.3 The designs were simple, modest and practical with very less construction appropriated on the site and through the conscious involvement of the community in discussions relevant to the design process. Promenades meander along the water’s edge, separated by rounded mosaic coping, allowing people to walk along its stretches, Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



As City Development plans fail to provide guidelines for the protection, conservation and enhancement of open spaces, most private developments ensconce public space away from the people, making it a part of the private realm.

The Kankaria Lake project, designed by HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd transforms a traffic laden lakeside road into an animated 2km pedestrian promenade, lined with gardens, organised vending spaces and well designed street furniture. (Image: courtesy Sagar Joshi)

in cities where uninterrupted walking is a distinct luxury. The paved pathways of natural stone change in pattern as they progress from spaces to walk, rest or linger in, interceded with parks and amphitheatres to prompt cultural activity. The lush greenery of the revived mangroves, which covered the waterfront on Carter Road, and previously used as a dumping ground, significantly adds to the beauty of the space. The maintenance costs of the promenades are funded through minimal amounts collected from residents of the area every month. Apart from providing them a befitting public amenity to enjoy, so close to home, it also increases their sense of ownership to the space, and helps prevent it from falling into disarray. Another waterside development project that successfully propounds on the potential of a water body is that of the Kankaria Lake, designed by HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt Ltd, in Ahmedabad. Initiated by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, it transformed the traffic laden lakeside road into an animated 2km pedestrian promenade along the edge of the lake, lined with gardens, food courts, organised vending spaces and regularly spaced street furniture. Built to create a public space with efficient and durable infrastructure in keeping with the existing activity and fostering new use, the intricate detailing of the sidewalks, and access ramps to the podium promenade, effectively nurture the development of an active social space in Ahmedabad. The potential that waterside spaces have, in the way they draw people and activity around them, must be developed upon to inform the design of similar spaces as increasing proposals are floated for the same. The Delhi Nullah Proposal by Morphogenesis seeks to restore 350km of contiguous natural drains (nullahs) and 1750 acres of surrounding unused land to progressively bring about sustainable change within the city. The Project has been projected to be able to transform and enhance the social, cultural and transport (pedestrian and cycling) networks of the city by establishing a green and sustainable network as an alternative and democratic source of engagement within Delhi. It is important that the potential of such a project not be misappropriated in the way of the Mill Land Redevelopment project and judiciously used to benefit the public, which when done well, facilitates profitable economic advancement as well. However, the greener public spaces such as gardens and parks, that are assumed to be just as accessible to the public as waterfronts and promenades, are not inherently designed to be so nor are they designed to impart a sense of comfort and safety, being even less used as a result. Although their relevance as economic drivers of street-side activity ensures that the edges are Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


The City Center, in Kolkata, by Charles Correa is a comprehensive mix of market and community; the underlying traits of a public space relevant in its naturally ventilated and daylit arcades and bazaar-like galis.

lively and safe at all times of the day, these principles are negated through bad maintenance or strict policing, both of which discourage public use. The Oval Maidan in Mumbai, located along one of the busiest pedestrian corridors in South Mumbai, is one such example. Restored through an initiative by the local residents, the Maidan was successful in the way it prettied up the space, but for an open space of its scale and location, it accomplished very little for the city around it. An intimidating iron fence closed off the perimeter, hardly proffering a cordial interface between the inhabitants and pedestrians. Excessive policing and the early closing hours in the evening, created desolate, uncomfortable edges, especially near the statue of BR Ambedkar that only prompted people to visit the space less. Parks and courtyards are much safer when easily visible and accessible from the street as opposed to being walled off; just as spikes placed on ledges to ward off criminal activity, provide less public security than do neighbourly spaces that entice people to idle, keeping eyes on the street4 and inspiring a sense of security. In contrast, Shivaji Park, in Mumbai creates an inclusive and vibrant space by remaining open to diverse activity that begins before day break and continues well into the night, supporting community, as a result. The differences in design are palpable. Its unfiltered access from all sides allows the extended neighbourhood to inhabit it and call it their own. A simple kerb edging forms a makeshift seating area along the periphery of the space and is easily accessed, demonstrating that plot boundaries can be defined in better ways than through the erection of impenetrable barriers. The well located trees and street furniture make the spaces inside comfortable and conducive to social activity and thereby draw a large crowd of regulars and passers-by. Places like Cubbon Park, in Bengaluru also have an interesting history of being used as spontaneous performance spaces. This is enabled by constant public movement and congregation, which is in complete contrast to spaces like the Freedom Park, in Bengaluru, which has designated spaces for culture and protest and does not facilitate a similar environment. The ‘Colaba Woods’ project, in Mumbai, was initiated, facilitated and designed by Somaya and Kalappa Associates. Working along with the residents of Colaba and Cuffe Parade, in collaboration with the Tata Electric Company and the local Lions Club, 4 acres of land were leased from the Municipality and transformed into a green forest, in a bid to hasten the process without being reliant on the bureaucracy. What initially housed a refuse dump and two PWD headquarters now had 200 species of trees, jogger’s tracks, an amphitheatre and relaxation spaces. The most significant move in making this an active public space was the decision not to charge an entrance fee, so that the park could be easily accessed by Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


An environment not created synthetically, but with the richness of variety, familiarity, and spontaneity that city-lovers have revered, are important systems of sustenance.

The Rangoli Metro Arts Center in Bengaluru, is designed as a natural extension to the streetscape, with appropriate street furniture, serving as an uninterrupted cultural sidewalk. (Image: courtesy Lakshmana Padmanabhan)

all, from the residents to the slum dwellers. This went against the general trend for public space management in the city, where paid parks and those built with the participation of the local residents’ assemblage, disallow access to many groups. This project set a precedent in design relevance and activism, and was the first Public Private Partnership involved in the design of a public space in the city. Today, there are architects that have the capital and standing to realise more ambitious projects. Instead of inspiring a new architectural language that connects the urban landscape, these architects often continue to mass produce globalised buildings, making the few instances of public relevance important to highlight. Public space defines the character and soul of a city. Everyone wants to be a part of the human spectacle that exists whenever people come together. They intrinsically crave the ‘sidewalk-ballet’ from the Jane Jacob streets5, just as they gravitate toward the mosh-pit during concerts. The vibrant street life of marketplaces, in the way they fashioned small microcosms of mixed use, has become increasingly sparse. Privatised retail spaces in the form of malls, are yet another physical manifestation of the liberalised era. Though they may masquerade as public space, they are exclusive leisure facilities, illustrating the growing socio-spatial segregation in cities and showcasing the way in which the consuming classes are transforming urban space to suit their own identity. With all the critique the ‘soulless glass boxes’ receive, it does not seem to be affecting its popularity and therefore its prevalence. However, it is important to understand that this only occurs because malls are the closest instances to a shared space afforded to the common urban user, to linger in comfortably without being disturbed. There are hardly any sidewalks or parks that allow us that ambience. The shopping mall allows a reprieve from the callous landscape of the contemporary city. Even here, people flock to the skylights, benches and artificial trees. With better planning and proposals, city inhabitants could enjoy these traits not only in a shopping mall, but everywhere they live, work and play. Streets catering to pedestrians, with convenient access to shops and entertainment at walkable distances, are but our own bazaars of old, validating that evolutionary need to indirectly and informally engage closely with other people. An environment not created synthetically, but with the richness of variety, familiarity, and spontaneity that city-lovers have revered, are important systems of sustenance. This is not a nostalgic standpoint on the issue, calling for the regeneration of dying bazaars but a call for an understanding of the impetus behind the provision of such facilities; the intent of the design process focussing solely on the livelihoods of people and pedestrian concern. Charles Correa’s City Center in Kolkata is designed particularly to re-establish those values. Catering to multiple land uses and diverse income profiles, with residences, small Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


It is important to construe projects that go against the essential grain and build sensitively within the constraints of the plot given, going beyond the brief to create spaces for people, by virtue of their design.

The Rangoli Metro Arts Center in Bengaluru, provides an interactive cultural stretch of space that is open to all, for use as a platform of cultural exchange. (Image: courtesy Nirlek Dhulla)

'dukaans' and airconditioned boutiques, the spaces are used consistently, throughout the day. Consciously built without a boundary wall and without a gate at its entrance, it is a comprehensive mix of market and community, the underlying traits of a public space relevant in its naturally ventilated and daylit public arcades, its narrow 'galis' and in the central 'kund' that is connected to the streetscape outside. The spaces of transit are negotiated to perfection, seemingly wide enough to accommodate large numbers but narrow enough to establish a subtle sense of community among the people, almost bazaar-like in its inherence. Malls are usually exclusive places where disorder and pandemonium is curtailed, in the supervised zoning of shops and transit spaces, with no other incentive but to promote the business of consumption. Himanshu Burte alluded to this phenomenon as the underlying transactional character and organisation of the space that cannot be shaken off despite its efforts to seem as if it were built to be conducive to human encounters.6 However, the City Center, a contemporary typology built with all the constraints of being successful as a mall, brings the focus back to society, making it a public space of repute. On similar terms, designed with the intention of giving back to society, after the development of the Metro necessitated the levelling of the MG Road Boulevard, the Rangoli Metro Art Center is an initiative by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. Designed as a natural extension to the streetscape that is visible and accessible to all, it is an interactive space housing and encouraging cultural activity, and drawing quite a crowd almost daily. The Centre accommodates an upper walkway, while the lower promenade extends for quite a stretch, encompassing children’s play areas, street furniture and performance spaces. Through the promotion of different forms of arts by way of exhibitions and workshops, the space is accessible to anyone interested in displaying or learning a craft, with all the activities being free, to create an engaging space with the sole intention of exchanging ideas and understanding the various facets of cultural expression. With civic and public space, the measure of design can also be adjudged in a different way. Himanshu Burte in his book ‘Spaces for Engagement’, discussed a comprehensive measure of what constitutes true public spaces; criteria that does well to truly define its essence. He bases this on five aspects – Occupiability, Penetrability, Legibility, Sociability and Possesability. 7 To study these tenets through the design of the Gandhi Ashram by Charles Correa would be an apt description of why the space works in the public realm. While art galleries and hotel corridors depend on the way they keep people in continuous transit, as is existent in shopping malls as well, an ideal public space should be occupiable and sociable, as afforded by the Ashram's corridors and courtyards creating large spaces to sit or linger if need be, or to possibly even engage in an activity. The experience of movement through these spaces is perceptible and structured, allowing a penetrable immersion in the process of navigating through the legible spaces and transitions. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the ease of access to all sections of the society; a comfortable ambient space that one is allowed to Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


The Gandhi Ashram, by Charles Correa serves as an easily occupiable and sociable public space, proffering large spaces to sit, linger and engage in an activity. (Image: courtesy Charles Correa Associates)

take possession of, making it feel as one’s own, through a ritualised understanding of it. This intricately defined understanding and reading of space helps identify the important, underlying spatial processes existent in its design and judge it based on its ability to create social integration through a sense of ‘place’. The design of ecological and equitably relevant space draws us back to a more holistic question of sustainability that is becoming increasingly difficult to design for, in today’s time. As Gautam Bhatia aptly put it, ‘Cities have innovated their own environmental mechanisms for a better life. It is no secret that the most environmentally-friendly cities are also the richest. They have money for experimental transport systems, energy installations and waste management and recycling, that third world cities can ill afford. Rules of building, designing of cities, transport and movement in them, must be reframed to suit the Indian environment. An environmental urbanity that emerges from a local reality will be the only answer to India's urban future.’8 Public spaces in India were primarily those where diversity was allowed to flourish, as people of all cultures and languages used them as spaces of rest, repose, commerce and transit. These spaces were representative of community, essential to the Indian fabric; contested territories, with overlapping distinctions and hierarchies that at once housed the chaotic and lyrical, old and new, rich and poor. It was within these spaces that intensified a dynamic manifestation of social engagement where people belonged, gathered and shared a connection with place, which is predictably absent today, as is the sense of community. With India urbanising at unprecedented rates, due to an immense increase in population and migration from its villages to its cities, they continually expand or are expected to be built afresh, requiring the shaping of new architectural and urban solutions that offer holistic solutions to the predicament of building sustainable environments, rather than isolated buildings. It is important to construe projects that go against the essential grain and build sensitively within the constraints of the plot given, going beyond the brief to create spaces for people, by virtue of their design. Only within such space can there emerge a dynamic and vibrant manifestation of equity that sustains people, community and consequently cities.

References: 1. Mehrotra, R (2008). Other Cities, Other Worlds: Urban Imaginaries in a Globalizing Age. Duke University Press. 2. Correa, C (2013). Reinventing Cities: Making Urban Spaces Mandatory. Urba Nature. 3. Das, P (2005). Mumbai Waterfronts Development. L Bhatia, G (2014) Latvia: Waterfront Expo. 4. Jacobs, J (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Vintage Books. 5. Jacobs, J (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Vintage Books. 6. Burte, H (2008). Space for Engagement: The Indian Artplace and a Habitational Approach to Architecture. Seagull Books. 7. Burte, H (2008). Space for Engagement: The Indian Artplace and a Habitational Approach to Architecture. Seagull Books. 8. Bhatia, G (2014). Forget the global examples - India needs a new environmental model. Mail Today. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


KARNAL MEDICAL CENTRE HTAU, New Delhi Situated on a compact semi-public site in the Karnal district of Haryana, Karnal Medical Centre exemplifies a minimalist yet intrinsically sustainable approach to design manifested by the Delhi-based firm Habitat Tectonics Architecture & Urbanism (HTAU). Text: Shreya Shah | Drawings & Images: courtesy HTAU

At HTAU, we believe in the concept of genius loci or the spirit of a place. From the lie of the land, landscape and physical setting of a site down to materials, crafts and building technologies, various elements define the essence of a particular place. We believe that the process of design must recognise and address these. This approach manifests itself in the creation of buildings and places that are inherently sustainable. The region around Karnal is known for its civic architecture in exposed brick. But this ‘craft’ has declined over the years. Brick, in the context of our local climate, is not only sustainable, but also provides flexibility due to its modular nature to create wall systems that are environmentally responsive. Karnal Medical Centre is an attempt to use this vernacular building tradition to create a modern expression. Passive design techniques were used to address the local climate and a minimalist architectural language catered to the resources and skills available locally. The material palette was kept simple, comprising of four material finishes. Masons and fabricators were trained on site and working with them, simple tools and solutions were developed to get the desired product. We not only benefitted from this in the long run but also contributed towards local skill development through the building. This approach also matched the client’s requirement of creating a building within a limited budget and one that had low long-term operational costs. The building uses artificial lighting for only 15 per cent of the day-light hours and mechanical cooling for an average 20 per cent of working hours in peak summer months. - Puneet Khanna, Founding Partner, HTAU

Established in the year 2010 by Puneet Khanna and Mriganka Saxena, Habitat Tectonics Architecture & Urbanism (HTAU) is a Delhi-based firm providing architectural and urban design services through research and innovation. The architect-urban designer duo, with an experience of over twelve years of practical work in the UK and India, head a team that together works on projects ranging from the urban design to interiors. HTAU believes in the ability of design, across scales, to transform and inspire. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

YD ‘14 | architecture


Interesting and noval brick bond screen makes up the front façade. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



ith innumerable health issues plaguing our population, the number of medical centres coming up across Indian towns and cities is increasing rapidly. However, it is important to appreciate that, apart from medical aid and attention, the quality of environment in which a patient is treated and recuperates is critical for his recovery and overall well-being. Breaking the stereotypical image of health centres, that of character-less spaces and completely controlled environments, the Karnal Medical Centre, a specialist Paediatric and Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) facility with a residential unit for the founding doctors, is a refreshingly distinctive building that celebrates ‘light and air’ and is, as a result, inherently sustainable. Created by Delhi-based firm – HTAU, within a semi-public neighbourhood of Karnal, the building is centred on the concept of delivering pragmatic design priorities through a simple form derived from the almost square proportions of the site and a limited material palette. The Centre occupies a plot of 3,303sqft with a total built up area of 7,905sqft, housing the medical functions on the lower and upper ground floors and first floor, while the second floor is dedicated for the residence of the founding doctors, a husband-wife team. Internal organisation is based on the levels of public access required. The main entrance to the Medical Centre along the eastern elevation, enhanced by a double height space, brings in people to a common

↑ Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

The Medical Centre as it sits on the close-fitted site.




LEGEND: 1. Main Entrance 2. Stairs Connecting Lower and Upper Ground Floors 3. Waiting Area 4. Semi Private Room 5. Private Room #1 6. Private Room #2 7. Nursing Station 8. Private Room #3 9. Lift Lobby 10. General Ward 11. Main Staircase

6 7

9 5 3

10 2




The North-West corner shows panache brick bonds.


Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Entry is enhanced by large door openings and the ‘jaalis’.

The ‘jaalis’ create different patterns on the staircase throughout the day time. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


Brick louvers on the West elevation.

platform from where one can access the Outpatient Department (OPD), Laboratory, Immunisation Room, and Medical Store on the lower ground floor as well as the Private Rooms, Semi-private Rooms and a Ward on the upper ground floor. Ascending up to the first floor, one finds the Operation Theatre (OT), Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Post Operation Room and other OT ancillary functions. The main staircase that also leads up to the residence on the second floor is situated in the South-West corner to allow for privacy as well as to limit solar gain into the other habitable spaces of the building. Extensive care is taken to maximise natural light and ventilation in the Centre such that it requires minimum artificial lighting and mechanical cooling through the day. The architects used the Rat-Trap Brick Bond (RTB) for all exterior walls, creating cavity walls that enhance passive insulation and help in the overall thermal efficiency of the building. An interesting pattern is created on the East and West façades by incorporating brick ‘jaalis’ that bring in sufficient light during the day while limiting solar gain and allow for cross ventilation. Further, the ‘jaali’ along the main entrance acts as a ‘solar chimney’ owing to its narrow volume, extracting hot air from the top. The inner walls are made of brick up to eight feet and the portion above is enclosed in glass to let the natural light seep in to even the innermost spaces of the basement. Additionally, the services are rationalised by providing three shallow shafts detailed by carving the bricks along the minor elevations which eradicates the

Ballustrade detail.

necessity for separate service shafts needed in a medical centre. These simple yet unusual elements make the architecture more sensitive, adding to its functional qualities. The Karnal Medical Centre exemplifies an atypical design method under the healthcare typology that assures energy efficiency and serves the described functions to the maximum through a ‘minimalist approach’ to design.

FACT FILE: Project : Location : Architects : Design Team : Clients : Site Area : Built-up Area : Structural Consultants : Civil Labour Contractor : Plumbing : Electrical : Brick Masons : Carpentry Team : Steel Fabrication :

Karnal Medical Centre Karnal, Haryana Habitat Tectonics Architecture & Urbanism (HTAU) Puneet Khanna, Mriganka Saxena, Rajeev Sanserwal, Intekhab Alam Karnal Medical Centre 3,303sqft 7,905sqft Asian Engineering Consultants (ASC) Rohit Kumar Rasheed Alam B L Khanna Kaali and Kailash Mohammad Azam Mohammad Yunus and Manjeet Singh

Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014


JAGYA DESIGNS Jagya Designs, Surat Situated in the heart of Surat city, Jagya Designs built their own design studio as an experimental project to reflect their beliefs on architecture; assembled by bringing together unconventional materials for conventional functions. Text: Shreya Shah | Drawings: courtesy Jagya Designs | Images: courtesy Kamal Bengali

Each project possess a rhetoric question as to who am I and what I can become? We first try to understand these questions intensely and then search for the answers. These questions are not directly answerable, however, through the process of design, one tries to find an answer to the turmoil created. Though with a lot of shaky ideas, the project concludes and sometimes even then the questions remain unanswered. But these questions need not always be answered as inspiration comes from numerous factors. To me, it came from the places I have traveled to, the people l met, the photographs taken and through film-making. Though difficult to manifest, these things have been a constant inspiration to us. Materials, when kept unfinished and raw, reflect a different kind of space. The spatial qualities are improved thereafter. The play of elements and materials is a continuous process between the finished and the unfinished surfaces. ‘Jagya Designs’ – the name of the office itself speaks about the firm. In Guajarati language, ‘Jagya’ means space, and space is for everyone. The environment of the office itself generates a light atmosphere of working. One can look at the green plantation through the large window openings and listen to the birds’ sounds in the form of song. This indeed transforms the mental situation from stressed to peaceful. Through each project, the space teaches us the essence of its being. - Sanjay Ramani, Jagya Designs A young firm that believes in letting the ‘rawness’ in materiality speak for itself, Jagya Designs in Surat founded by Sanjay Ramani, sensitively deals with the design of the project, and caters to its multiple needs and uses. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

YD ’14 | interiors


The bulge in the wall creating an illusion. Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014



or an artist, to produce his best product, it is important for him to work in a place that resonates with his personality, where he can harmonise with the space – its built and un-built environment. Inspired by this thought, architect Sanjay Ramani wanted to design his own studio in a way that would imitate his understandings about his design philosophies and beliefs, while also reflecting the places visited by him and the observations made henceforth.

Exposed bricks and cane curtains, well blended with the atypical furniture.

Centred on the concept of ‘space’ for working, the name of the project suggests its purpose in the truest sense. ‘Jagya’, a Gujarati word, means space and hence Jagya Designs is a ‘jagya’ – a place, for the architect to work in Surat, made of unconventional materials, left exposed. Simple in its planning, it houses spaces for many purposes differentiated by the use of varied materials, left bare. Spread out on a plot of 4,500sqft, the built-up area is of 1,530sqft while the rest of the space is designed as an amicable landscape. The interiors are developed with interactive elements that make up the entire studio. Responding to the immediate context, the studio is

The common brick bonds creating catchy exteriors.

Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

Flooring becomes like an inbuilt material library, along the passage.




drawn together by using materials that resemble the surroundings. The use of raw bricks on the façades and cane curtains in the interiors, the building continues to showcase the rawness in the materiality, throughout. Experimenting with the basic materials, the bricks are used to make unconventional bonds and the craftily done wall with a bulge, reflects the experimental attitude in design. There is a distinct feeling of the vernacular, though in a contemporary context, as one moves between the built and the un-built elements of the space. Giving a different identity to conventional materials by contriving a new functional use for it, the design of the studio represents a fresh take on space. Creatively crafted, the drainage pipes are used as light holders while the waste cardboard rolls are used as a table base. Objects like oil containers and plumbing pipes become the table base supports. Through this, it is made sure that even the simplest of materials that generally go waste, are utilised to generate new designs. Paper is used to artistically cover the columns in the enclosure and in the design of the false ceiling. The quirky charm of the interiors of the Jagya Designs, creatively actualised by the architect, makes the work atmosphere open and interesting for the studio team, encouraging experimentation and productivity.

Paper layered walls suggest the informal character of the space.

FACT FILE: Project Location Architect/Client Civil Contractor Stone Work Fabrication Initiation of Project Completion of Project

: : : : : : : :

Jagya Designs (Architecture + Urban Design) Surat, Gujarat Sanjay Ramani Mukundbhai and team Burabhai Consultancy Prafulbhai and team April 2013 August 2013 Indian Architect & Builder - June 2014

THE STORYTELLERS A photo-competition on spaces and places

By: Parnavi Karandikar Equipment used: Sony Cyber Shot DSC W120 Title: Hampi – a forgotten empire. . . A story in stone! Description: History and historical sites are always very intriguing, especially in a country like India, where such reminisces of history and architecture are in abundance. But very few amongst these have the magical quality of teleporting one to a completely different time – a parallel universe. . . One such historical site is the ruins of Vijayanagara – the city of victory, known better today as Hampi, situated on the right on the bank of the river Tungabhadra in northern Karnataka, constituting one of the most extensive and spectacular historical sites to be found anywhere in India. Hampi, once visited, leaves you mesmerised and in complete awe. Email address: | Contact Number: 09820100117 Submit your entry today! Each month, the winning entry will be published in the magazine and will receive a complimentary annual subscription. Submission Format: 1 Photograph – JPEG Format. Brief write-up of upto 100 words describing the image. Required Details: Name / Email Address / Contact Number / Camera Used. Send in your entries to or See selected entries on IA&B’s Facebook page: facebook/Indian Architect and Builder For queries, please call 022 40373660


RNI No: 46976/87 Registered with Register of Newspaper of India, ISSN 0971-5509.Publishing Date: 1st of every month. Postal Registration No: MH/MR/South-373/2013-15. Posted at Patrika Channel Sorting office, Mumbai 400001, on 7th & 8th of every month. Total Pages = 96

IA&B June 2014  
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