VOICES ANAND NEELAKANTAN SHINIE ANTONY RAVI SHANKAR NEIL MCCALLUM SATYA MOHANTY MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS BUFFET MAGAZINE PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT JULY 5 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 The Future is Green Vivek Singh Rathore Design Principal, Salient R ethinking the future is what this founder of Salient—a multidisciplinary design studio operating from Kolkata—doing. This IIT gold medalist recently changed urban landscape of Kolkata with his Swabhumi project that has undergone an adaptive reuse of land on a garbage dump of 13 acres. The site was an urban waste dump till early 1980s. Swabhumi aimed to provide a sustainable solution to the dilapidating architectural heritage in the city. A firm believer in sustainability, Vivek thinks the luxury of a space experience does not necessarily mean being expensive and this very philosophy can be adapted in design. “Sometimes an old structure is easier to handle. For example, in this very project, over 60 percent of the built fabric has been conserved, the new 40 percent is revamped with the spirit of ‘Bengal craftsmanship’ and is layered with existing to render it vitalised. Sustainability was an important consideration, both in terms of design in architecture and interiors. Material reuse, vintage sourcing, daylight harvesting, facilitation of natural ventilation of spaces, were essential,” he concludes. As the country reopens, the need for sustainable buildings with the focus on hygiene will be the calling card of urban planning By SUCHAYAN MANDAL I n the last three months, the world sought solace in confined spaces. Occupants realised the importance of the health of these spaces. Add to this, the spectre of global warming that haunts us. The houses we live in, our offices, our marketplaces, and other goliath structures we have erected are not helping either. The concrete clutters belch out harmful pollutants and threaten to drive the planet to ecocide. Realtors have woken up to the needs of Urban India. Chennai-based firm Akshaya is looking at redesigning apartments keeping in mind the demand for hygiene, an office-like feel, and maybe even, quarantine. A healthy house—read sustainable green building— provides natural defences against respiratory illnesses and airborne vectors. Stringent ventilation and filtration requirements reduce exposure to viruses. Jamshed and Nirmala Banaji Jamshed Banaji Director, Banaji & Associates T ravel to the picturesque village of Aldona in Goa and you will come across a dilapidated 1950s’ house lovingly nurtured back to its beauty. “As architects we feel that restoration is a legacy which we leave to the next generation. Architecture embodies our heritage and our buildings are a reflection of our values. The approximately 6,700 sq ft plot was purchased with an intent and desire to enhance the old Portuguese charm by converting the dilapidated and poorly planned house into a luxury villa with modern amenities,” says Jamshed. The villa was re-planned and to reduce the carbon footprint, the entire house doors and windows, along with the frames, ventilators and grills were sourced and refurbished. The absence of cross ventilation in the existing house was achieved in all rooms through subtle changes in the plan and window positioning. “The thick laterite walls and river-washed natural stone flooring keep the villa cool throughout the year,” says the proud architect who believes adopting passive architectural strategies have the maximum economic benefit. The Goa project that saw the designer completely renovate an old charming villa with a Portugese effect. The 6,700 sq ft place was fitted with sustainable interiors. Each housing unit is isolated from another, leading to lower chances of exposure or contamination. Moreover, with the concept of co-living and hostel accommodation becoming less attractive, more people would be eager to invest in homes. At a time when owners might be reluctant on letting out their homes, builders will have to think of constructing smart apartments at affordable rates. These would require going back to roots to integrate sustainable hygiene. Jehan-Ara Poonawala, Chief Designer, JJ Poonawala Architects & Interior Designers, integrates green principles and practices into her designs to showcase social, environmental and economical best practice. A big influencer of sustainable design, she believes over 20 years the financial payback of a green project typically exceeds the additional cost of greening. Talking about one of her designs, she says, “While working on Africa’s first five-star sustainable hotel, Verde Zanzibar, I faced a unique challenge. The site had a large mangrove zone and the client perceiving that as unproductive was clearing it to make room for the hotel. There was also a rivulet on the property which was affecting the salinity level of water. We decided on a small damming project to help the mangrove survive.” The challenge, for Poonawala, was to first convince the client to spend on an environmental cause and secondly incorporate the dam area into the construction and landscape. As per studies, real estate generates a few trillion tonnes of wastes and pollutants. It alone ingests about 40 percent of natural raw materials, 25 percent water and 35 percent energy resources. In addition, it emits 40 percent of wastes and 35 percent greenhouse gases. So, building structures in a sustainable fashion has become indispensable more than ever before. According to the World Green Building Council, a ‘green’ building—in its design, construction or operation—reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment. Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect, Architecture Discipline, says, “Our buildings, neighbourhoods and cities should be designed to minimise pollution and carbon emissions. This implies not only using renewable sources of energy but designing energyefficient buildings that incorporate vegetation and biodiversity .” T he Great Indian Green Building Movement today stands high with 4,000 projects. Avikal Somvanshi, Programme Manager, CSE (Centre for Science and Environment), says, “India needs it. The Indian regulation already mandates housing to have solar panels, sewage treatment plant, and insulation. It’s a part of our rules and regulations. What we need is to bring the overall consumption to come down as part of green building movement, rather than becoming efficient. Indian buildings don’t consume that much. Since most residential houses in India, except for metros, are without air conditioners or heaters and other high energy consuming appliances, they consume less energy than the houses in the West. This is applicable for office buildings in non-metro cities as well.” A Harvard Business Review report suggests that the architecture of sustainable buildings shoots up productivity to as high as 40 percent in the people who work there. Employees work more efficiently and help the businesses earn better revenue. For people working in a green building that has followed sustainable parameters, 44 percent were better at making decisions that have a significant impact on workplace goals, while 31 percent were reported to be better at planning and strategising under pressure, according to a survey done by My Tech Decisions, a commercial technology management blog. WHY DID WE MOVE AWAY FROM OUR TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE? The Indian spiritual philosophy interpreted humans as a direct extension of the cosmos. Early civilisation in India was fearful of nature and always respected the environment. The same philosophy got included in the traditional home architecture through usage of local and sustainable materials and various methods that would be climate-responsive. Till date, we can trace a few of these elements—courtyards, clusters, wind towers, roof terraces and jaalis. Traditional architecture took into account the climate condition of the terrain. So a house in Bikaner region of Rajasthan would be planned in such a way to ensure minimum sunlight can enter the rooms. Most houses would have a courtyard. The rooms would get their light and ventilation from this courtyard and have very few openings on to the exterior. Dust storms being quite common in summer months, the roads were designed in a way that pedestrians were less affected. This is the reason most major old streets in the cities of Rajasthan are oriented almost in the East-West direction at right angles to the direction of dust storms. Contrast to Rajasthan architecture is the one in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. The houses are characterised by an attic with small windows on the sides. The main purpose of the attic is to insulate the rooms. Besides, it also worked as a store room to preserve corn, which is the staple of the region. The windows helped in drying of corn. Avinash Singh, Founder, ARK Turn to page 2
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