The unexplored streets & the unconventional facades.


10 August 2016 09:25 AM

Dark clouds enveloped the sky, hanging in mysterious, mischievous ways, possibly carrying the rain as in the Skymet forecast. As a general practice, I keep aside a day every week for coordination meetings on each site. Today one such meeting was scheduled post lunch.

weather in delhi

Morning and through the first part of the afternoon it was solid rain. I didn’t hold much hope of staying dry for the final leg of the day on the site, but it all worked out well. Post lunch, good rains gave a miss to Delhi and my meeting went well.

10 August 2016 06:05 PM

Twenty-one years of my life have been spent in Delhi -I have tasted Delhi in paratha walla gali, seen architectural details on its monuments, felt the Lutyens grandness and lived through its traffic snarls. Delhi around me is evolving & changing. But its streets stand the same.

Evidence of public participation or discussion towards improvements of street layouts has never been witnessed-perhaps layouts are never judged as a possibility for hoodlum activities.Walking away from the ring roads and the cacophony of horns, I enjoy taking detours into these unexplored, unknown streets.

Observing, Absorbing & Exploring the little details; More as an architect than as an exercise freak!

This evening I was free to walk the streets of Shantiniketan, where the Delhi’s affluent class resides.

IMG-20160831-WA0004 (3)

The sidewalks are quite broad and I am a lone soul doing my walking- stopping- admiring- clicking.  And perhaps that is why walking on such streets is an isolated affair, an exposure to danger, I say to myself.

I wonder why can’t we have our streets with cut-outs & cafes where people can safely walk, bicycle, take transit, and mingle?

Why is repairing job of streets & roads limited to filling of potholes or painting of fences by our government?

What I would say is this: When it comes to retrofitting streets & parks our government approvals has allowances for either painting the fences or repairing the boundaries till next rain, nothing beyond. I believe the burden of repair shouldn’t fall on those who want to use this budget the old-fashioned way-but on our planners, who are thinking ahead & thinking safe. wouldn’t  you recommend the same?!

street ideas

How wonderful it will be to have people with dogs and people with cell phones enjoying leisure walks on designed streets with shelters, cafe and benches. Surely, an old lady will rests on a bench while someone else may read a newspaper enjoying the hustle & bustle of street sound and life would go on.

But even in my imagination everything is not idyllic. The patch of green next to the benches– has some dog owner treat it as a bathroom for its pet; shamefaced, I further watch as people seated on benches spit while the coffee shop has its litter overflowing from the bin. My design idea totally distorted with congestion on the roadway and tension on the pavement.

The problems I believe are a result of popularity. Surely- they’re being heavily used.

But the larger picture is this: Things work. We can and we must make it work.

What can be done is this: that we can start by writing to our representatives and be willing to commit for long, because these think take time in our governance.

  The warmed up evening, the swaying of leaves, the waft of humidity, all this together made me wish for some cool breeze. I had come to a round about by now. Houses representing splash of power, money and luxury surrounded me. The majority and most imposing had their own gated space marked by high boundaries, tall trees, secured posts and a splash of green outside.

In these houses here, I could neither catch a fusion of a traditional with a contemporary style nor a modern with a contemporary style or even a reeeaallly classy style!!! Why I say so is because of a wondrous house I saw long back in Bhopal. If Bhopal could have it why not Delhi and this street?

manumanu 2

Designed by my friends and Architect couple in Mumbai  Manu &Jhankar, I remember this house because of the exemplary way team MJDS used stone. The façade and the form- creating the unexpected.

I observed looking around the street that the flashy styles and cookie-cutter designs was also a miss here; rather  one-of-a-kind character and personality was seen on the façades.

woodhouse in shantiniketa

I saw wood in the most adorable charming way been used in this house, that I stood in front of. I was specially enthralled  by the finish, polish and the detailing of the underside of projections.

wood underside

Coherent thoughts evaporated as I thought of the choices that the market provides us for wood now

types of wood 1

  • Natural wood
  • HPL
  • Fibre cement boards
  • WeatherTex

Would you Know more?

I walked to the next. My attention completely taken by this magnificent red.


brick house

I instantly fell in love with these bricks. The play of form, supplemented with texture of brick constructed more than a decade back. My eyes resting a little more than required on the concrete band-

brick house texture

–fascinating it stood-giving richness to brick. And my thoughts wandered to house warming visit done some three years back to my close friends and Architect couple in Noida- Aradhana & Sanjeev.

C-191 Sec 49
In that visit we had discussed the faulty techniques wide spread used by contractors seeking small time profit; about the available hand made bricks in the market which don’t have the edges correct and how brick tile is a better version saving one from the detailing required with the RCC junction. People should either devote a lot of time and research in building a house or trust their architect—after all it’s a major life event and listening to an architect helps.


aradhana 2



I move faster as wall of dark clouds hide the evening sky with little change in humidity. I almost reach the corner where my taxi is parked. But this house with proportionate use of louvers forces me to stop,click and think-

metal house

Yes I zoom-in

metal house zoom in

Use of metal in these window sections fascinated me. Rather- Metal has always!!!

 My mind ran me through an article I had read sometime back- DLF Corporate Park in Delhi the first corporate building in India to use aluminum composite panel (ACP) for the cladding of its façade…and so on.


Architect Amit Goel  from Elite Monolith Makers, in Delhi has experimented with ACP installation techniques and usage in  projects designed by him for years now. Another material he enjoys and experiments with is Steel. Seen on railings, gates and  as screens-catching up widely  due to the CNC cutters thronging the market. Charging by minute basis. This rose gold SS sheet custom design was cut at Rs.90/-per minute.

rose gold SS sheet 1.2mm thick.



Wandering thoughts and tired feet got me to my taxi. Exhausted, I almost fell onto the seat as the driver opened the door. Tired to the bone and knowing that  traffic snarls on a rainy day will make this way long and slow, I close my eyes.

Pictures of facades which have fascinated me in my career as an architect; play!!!  They are my favourites because of the approach.

Like this photo of a storefront, I had seen in my trips to US, always makes me wonder- what material could be used to get the desired effect here?



These kind of unconventional façade takes me down the time lane reminding me of the laborious work done by a team of us for a fabled project in 2008- Noho Square in Fitzrovia,London


Architect Ken Shuttleworth’s agency ‘Make planned to turn the Middlesex Hospital heritage site in Fitzrovia into an array of offices and posh residences. NoHo Square concept crashed and burned long ago, but the design then-was talk of town -Lightweight fully glazed buildings, with their hermetically sealed curtain walls and massive reliance on mechanical systems; representing the days when luxury projects were sprouting like weeds in London neighbourhood’s. Working along with the London team on the GFC drawings gave us the precise understanding of designing facades, fenestrations or rather opening as per the solar movement.

noho square

In 2010 working on my next big project with the same Make Architects |  I  realised that the entire team understanding is much necessary for its success

king abdullah sports centre

and thus started my journey with Middle east projects. 2011-2013 got me to work on the Iconic King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC for short), a project close to my heart. Learnt the hard way that  Zaha Hadid’s practice is at the forefront of using new materials to express the complex geometries they create and how difficult  it is to get her design on paper as well on site.

zaha hadid model

Yes, they are famed for making concrete appear weightless, their columns never perpendicular and their building’s skins are clad in different types of composite fibres.

riyadh kapsarc

For KAPSARC they used Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester (GFRP) to create an almost seamless flowing exterior. Zillion hours of hard work & teamwork for months along with numerous discussions with ZAHA’s team got us the required GFC and a kick -start of work on site.

Crazy days were they as one would say. An experience engraved forever because of endless visits of site in burka; bestest because of working in a world ruled by men and awesomest because of living- breathing-talking   ZAHA.

Much relaxed now and well seated at the back of the taxi, I think of my friends. What wonders are they creating? I call some,I ping some. I talk about the experience today which was both immersive and refreshing and they all say just one line-hey write about it.

Pen it down?!  and why not I think.


Architect Babika Goel

As an Architect my aim is to bridge the gap between fellow architects  and material suppliers of building construction brands through articles published on this portal every month. There is information blackout among the architects and construction professionals who use the existing and most prevailing brands but aspire for new or better. That is where my month-article comes in. Suppliers related to the topic are invited to introduce their products in the comment section.

some 1000plus fellow Architects across cities of India supported me with this idea -and slowly encouraged by glowing reviews, feedback & forthright support I present to you my eighth article. I would love to post your projects, your experiences and your stories here.Do connect with me at or be a guest(page in critical review tab of and start your own discussion. With this article,  I am adding some 1000 more Delhi based professionals and look forward for feedback.


My last month article–  Are you looking for wall cladding that will hide imperfections or a cladding that will provide a decorative finish? was well received. So with more confidence, I invite the suppliers to reach out to the architect community. Leave a comment with perhaps a tips or product knowledge which you think is important & meaningful to this content.

15 thoughts on “The unexplored streets & the unconventional facades.”

  1. Very well written article.

    Weathertex is an exterior cladding product reconstituted from hardwood from Australia. 100% natural and platinum green rated product has many features like termite resistance, long lengths and it doesn’t crack.

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  2. Another thought that ran across me a few days ago. Everyone wants a look of wood. Be it ACP, wpc, hpl they all are promoted as natural wood looking products.
    When you want something to look like wood, might as well go for wood. Maybe that’s what luxury is and it probably comes at a 20% higher cost.

    Yes real wood asks for maintenance but hey doest every beautiful thing needs to be maintained.
    When you buy a good dress, you get it dry cleaned thats how a real wood facade is, you get it oiled every year.
    But it does make you house look just as new every year.

    So it’s a choice to go for a product which cannot be maintained if it weathers vs a product which can be maintained and repaired when need arises.

    For more queries on wood facades, feel free to reach us at /8595244500

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  3. There is great passion exhibited in these observations and writings. Every building has a story behind it and after much toil and labour, the architect’s vision finally gets translated into his client’s dream. So it is no meagre feat, to envision a dream and after many laborious hours, emotions, sweat and blood that a home gets a beginning, a life.

    To capture the essence of each building serves another purpose, i.e. to read into to cumulative efforts of various stakeholders and finally visualize the broader picture for a wholesome analysis. Finally therein rests a home which portrays the homeowners final satisfaction which he shares with his family and friends, a place where one can come back anytime, lay back, relax and be immersed in a tranquility of calmness away from all the clutter that always hovers around outside .

    I liked Babika’s perception of how she looked at a brick house. How a subtle concrete band made the brick house stand out. Right there, I see her richness in sharing how she perceives an architectural facade a structure with a statement. Her observations are similar to an artist, a connoisseur of taste who digs into the materials which go into each exterior/interior claddings to finally bring out the true character of each facade.

    To take time out and step back a little and creatively view something from a different angle and find meaning, exemplifies taste and strength and to be open to share with others is a great virtue which needs acknowledgement and applauded as these attributes cannot be translated from classroom learnings alone. It comes with having a passion for something, to read, to view and to discover something new, something more as one explores more and more. Both young and old architect’s and home seekers will greatly learn from her endeavours and pursuits as she broadens her passionate exploratory journey going forward. Well Done.

    Being as passionate about brick facades myself and running a brick manufacturing company, I would like you to explore this page below as it would give adequate reason for choosing a Brick facade for your next home.

    Also kindly reflect on the words of legendary architect – Louis Khan in the early 1970s – “What do you want brick?”
    The answer according to Khan is that a brick wants to be an arch and not an infill or a cladding material with no structural role.
    The key to understanding brick as a modern architectural material lies precisely its dual potential to be both structure and cladding.

    A house with a QUALITY brick facade matures with age, requires little or no maintenance and has an aesthetic appeal that lasts a life time – It reflects a personality statement.

    Company Profile:
    Pioneer Bricks Pvt. Ltd. is headquartered at Derabassi (near Chandigarh). Pioneer Bricks is not only the leading clay brick company in India, but also the industry innovator using the latest brick technologies from Australia and Germany. Pioneer Bricks forte lies in its flexibility of working closely with architect’s requirements and offering customised project specific products (subject to reasonable quantities). Production capacities and inventories are sufficient to cater projects of large magnitude. Raw materials are thoroughly tested prior to use in our production process with finished products having High Compressive Strength, No Efflorescence, Good Thermal Insulation and Low Water Absorption.

    Correspondence Address:
    Mr. Rajpal Singh Bajwa
    Pioneer Bricks Pvt. Ltd.
    G-31, Central Plaza, Golf Course Road, Sector-53
    Gurgaon-122011, Haryana, [1.5km from DLF Golf Course]
    Mobile: 09810981285

  4. Keramos AntiqueStone
    A unique collection of various stones from across the indian subcontinent. Specially processed for an aged, weathered look. The feel of Tuscan villas and Provence chateux. Many appealing shapes and sizes for your terrace, driveway and courtyards.

  5. Stylam industries Ltd. had started manufacturing high quality laminates for both domestic and commercial application in 1991. The company has been on a growth trajectory since then. Known as one of the largest exporters of laminates in the first few decades, the company has created an equally strong and powerful mark for itself in multiple more product segments in more geographies and in the Indian market.
    VIOLAM Decorative Laminates
    Violam high-pressure laminates complements the sense of aesthetics and aspiration of modernity. While the most subtle of designs shall leave an impression, the flamboyant ones will make a statement. With Anti Bacterial and Anti Fungal properties, Violam is safe choice for application in Kicthedn, washrooms and Laboratory.
    FASCIA Exterior Cladding
    FASCIA Exterior Cladding has been conceived keeping all the aspects into consideration. The laminates are manufactured in lamination presses under high pressure and temperature. The special quality resins provide effective weather protection. Be it sun, rain or snow, the character of the laminates is not going to be lost. Be assured of shape, color and durability.
    WALKON Exterior Floor Boards
    Walkon Floor Boards are engineered laminates that make use of rivet-less technology and advanced durable clips, for fixing methods. WALKON Exterior Floor Boards are processed in laminate presses under high pressure and at high temperature. This is ideal when you are looking for flooring that lasts all four seasons.
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  6. Marble and wood as external materials For Buildings and Houses:
    Marble Cladding in forms of short blast, Brushed and CNC looks great and gives fabulous beauty to houses and buldings.
    Natural wood like Ipe, decking and weathertex are also very famous throughout the world and gives a fabulous look and beauty to commercial as well as residential buildings.
    We as Deepearls and Woodidea supply both Marble and Wood for all type of projects.
    For any information
    Contact: Nandu Kothari

  7. Hi Everyone,

    In this fierce competitive world we want our building clean, smooth, maintenance free, no color fading etc. irrespective of the technical qualites of the product being proposed or used for that building.
    now a days, ACP is widely used like cats and dogs. but engeneering behind this engineered product is missing. somehow we feel not to use ACP due to cracking, fadeness, delimination & buldging etc. This ACP concept has been mingled with various terminologies. wrong choice of brand, cheap installation makes a end customer to feel guilty. ACP is in itself a very broad term not describing the grouping of aluminium sheets with plastic granuels. it must match the standards and paremeters in every phase whether it is of raw materials or finished products. it can be perforated, printed, stone finished, wooden finished or can be of multiple color range but must deliver a promise of longevity in terms of color consistency, no delimination, buldging free etc. Anything can be played over the acp sheets in terms of bending, grooving, moulding etc to get the building’s look more authentic which it deserves piously.
    if you have any concerns pertaining to the ACP concepts feel free to contact me:-
    Amit Goel – 9871114617
    channel patner for ACP

  8. Hi Guys !!!

    Tiles have been used for centuries as an exterior cladding material. Laminam has all the traditional benefits of a porcelain tile, but in a very large panel of 3000x1000mm and yet only 3.5mm thick – which makes it suitable for a new applications such as a cladding material.

    Benefits of Laminam porcelain panel:
    1) Laminam’s average water absorption is 0.1% so it’s frost resistant and suitable for all weather conditions.
    2) Laminam will not rot, and can be used in climates exposed to extreme heat and cold.
    3) Laminam does not contain organic pigments and is resistant to UV rays. All colours, including dark colours, can be used in exteriors without concerns about fading.
    4) Laminam panels are extremely light weight at only 7kg/m². This makes them easier to transport &install.
    5) Laminam comes in an extremely diverse colour range: in solid colours, patterns, woodgrains, stone, gloss and metallic’s. 24 colours are stocked in NZ, with a further 60+ colours available ex Italy.
    6) Laminam panels are virtually Graffiti proof – harsh paints and markers can be cleaned easily. Combined with the fact that Laminam is extremely scratch resistant, making it ideal for public spaces.
    7) Laminam is fired at 1220 degrees during the manufacturing process. LAMINAM is certified non combustible. In the event of fire it does not release smoke or toxic substances.
    8) Laminam is easy to clean, does not require sealing, and does not require expensive maintenance. Over the building life cycle, Laminam panels will prove to be more cost effective than many other cladding materials.

    CS45 Cavity Facade System
    Suitable for commercial buildings and apartments, the Laminam CS45 cavity facade system combines the durability of Laminam’s porcelain panel with a locally designed and tested cladding system. The system is one of the lightest on the market, and allows for movement while still remaining weather tight.

    Benefits of CS45 Cavity Façade System:
    * Light weight – the total system (Laminam panel + aluminium frame and rails) is approximately 13kg/m². This has 2 key advantages. It reduces loadings on foundations and perimeter columns which can lead to significant savings in superstructure and foundations if designed in from concept. More importantly, light weight facades are more suitable for seismic areas, as they do not create as much momentum in a seismic event.
    * The cassette system has been designed to allow for movement and still remain weathertight. The system has been tested upto +/- 80mm of inter-storey movement, without loss in performance.
    * The system is very serviceable. The cassette’s can be removed at a later date if required, to inspect or repair damage, without damaging surrounding panels.
    * The system has a generous 45mm drainage cavity. This allows excellent ventilation and pressure equalisation.
    * The system has been tested to ASNZS 4284, and the durability of all the system components has been independently appraised.

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