Feb 13 2013 , Kolkata
With land becoming scarce, more and more realty developers are adopting space-conscious architecture
There are many studies and estimates on this issue. While figures may vary, all point to the fact that the demand for houses in the country is rising leading to growing paucity of land or space. A49, a Thailand-based multi-disciplinary firm of design professionals and consultants engaged in providing architectural services, which has recently set its foot on India, estimates there is a demand of 96,150 houses per day, or 4,006 houses per hour in India.
Rayomand Dastur, executive VP — sales and marketing, Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate, told FC Build, “According to studies, housing demand in major cities across India is estimated to rise to around 2.1 million units over the next five years, with over 50 per cent demand coming from the mid-income segment. Around 18 per cent of this demand will be concentrated in the top eight cities, including Mumbai, National Capital Region, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata.” The importance of designing in managing this limited space or land in the context of growing demand, therefore, can hardly be overemphasised.
While land for developing properties is certainly becoming scarce, if space crunch refers to tiny rooms in the urban areas, then it may not always be correct, feels Subhankar Mitra, head (west), strategic consulting, Jones Lang LaSalle India. “There is a lot of aspiration of homebuyers to buy spacious apartment across different cities in India. From the supply side also, there is a significant component of luxury homes across various cities,” Mitra told FC Build. There is, however, no denying the fact that offering spacious apartments in urban areas requires a lot of architectural planning and designing, up the line.
Dastur of Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate, feels architectural planning cannot be generalised but has to be customised depending on luxury, mid-income or group housing. The design intent for each of these will vary accordingly. “Having said this, architectural planning does aid in a better utilisation of space, which implies better layouts, efficient circulation leading to reduced wastage and less number of sq ft per house. While planning architecture, apart from space planning, we also look at various other factors including the climatic conditions of the location, the orientation as per vaastu and required furniture layouts, to better the design of the project” he said.
Developers and architects are debating, discussing and deliberating over what could be the right architecture in time of space crunch. Other advantage of going for a right architectural design is that it results in saving time for building projects, which in turn would lead to a rise in increased delivery commitment by developers.
Some of the current trends in architecture, as pointed out by the A49 spokesperson, include: biomimicry (using patterns in nature, particularly in biological systems, to inspire innovative and more efficient designs within architecture and engineering), modular design (clean lines, aluminum paneling and energy-efficient glass give modular buildings a modern chic. With modular construction, units can be stacked and arranged into aesthetically pleasing, functional designs that convey an eco-conscious mentality), glass (different kinds of energy-efficient glasses, such as electro-chromic, photovoltaic, is set to become the staple of green building), low impact (to reduce the impact on the surrounding environment through intelligent structural engineering and environmentally friendly design), to mention a few.
There has also been significant advancement of technology in building architecture, including steel-based technology systems and use of 3D technology to add value and reduce timescale and costs, she said. All these new technologies aim at responding to human needs and aspirations through design. Then there are green energy options in architecture, which are all but sustainable architecture to minimise the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space.
At this point, Mitra of Jones Lang LaSalle India, said, “The role of planners should be to identify zones that are suitable for residential development and formulate rules, regulations and policies that help and promote holistic and balanced developments with supporting infrastructure, amenities, safety, security and environmental sustainability. At a micro level, architects need to ensure functionality of internal space, safety, security and eco-friendliness. This can be achieved by innovative design principles, adherence to regulation and best practices, intelligent use of materials and appropriate technology.”
He said as individuals, we spend most of our time dealing within built environments – be it in homes, offices or institutions. Built environment imparts various physical and psychological impacts on us that shape our personalities and influences physical and mental well-being. Hence, the role of an architect is extremely critical because he is the one who shapes these built-up spaces. It is also important from a sustainability perspective, as the right kind of design, construction technology and use of material and equipment has a significant impact on the health of an overall environment. From the cost perspective, an efficient architectural design can ensure value for money for an investor.
Significantly, architectural practice in India is governed by the Council of Architecture (COA), which was created by Indian Architect’s Act. A person who is not registered with the COA cannot practice as an architect. Registered architects are those who have graduated through COA-approved colleges of architecture or affiliated courses in recognised institutions. Architects are required to practice as per the codes and guidelines prescribed by COA from time to time.
Architecture is a socially responsible profession akin to medicine or law. There is lot of trust invested in the opinions of architects. The civic authorities should delegate some of functions such as scrutiny of building permission application and drawings and safety issues to the registered architects in the local areas. This will ease pressure on the local administration and ensure faster development of the city.
So what cross section of developers are doing about addressing this issue?
Tata Housing spokesman said, Tata Housing is developing large townships and differentiated theme-based projects in major and mini metros today. As a comprehensive real estate developer of choice, Tata Housing straddles across all consumer segments from value to luxury housing, by offering products ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 14 crore. All projects developed by the company are certified sustainable green developments, designed by top internationally renowned architects, keeping in mind all these factors.
Bhartiya Group spokesperson said they utilise each square inch of space. “Bhartiya City, for instance, is one of the few mixed-use projects in the country. Its walls enclose everything that makes a city — residences, offices, retail, public services, sports facilities and entertainment. Its spaces invite you to participate with the environment, with inviting green lanes, waterfronts and parks. You’ll find the taller buildings at the periphery of the city and the structures as they come towards the centre to give it a more beautiful skyline. It’s about complex planning and architectural principles coming together to create a balanced and harmonious ecosystem,” she said.