Be it about philosophy on shower types that compliments your personality, or it be creativity to carry on in life, or perhaps adopting a wall to hold on to highs of life.
I wish to explore and talk about anything and everything remotely or in totality linked with architecture.
And the one released today, is the abbreviated version of the below-
Make death better. Ask the Architect!
Every day we try to make our life better but today I’m here to ask you why don’t we think of making death better too.
Can’t we think of the whole death experience as rich joyful and lovable? – What if we could say for you and me –he lived well and o ya-he died king size too.
Are we so scared of death that a discussion on this subject makes our hair stand on end or makes our blood run cold.
Why do we always wish for a go -gone type death- a painless one? Why my friends my parent’s everybody around me –including me -wish for that – why are we purposefully closing ourselves to facts.
A fact that my doctor parents- specially my surgeon dad will always say–newer researches in medical field is making death by short illness disappear. What he is not saying is here on the statistics. Take a look-
Did you see that less percentage of people are dying of short illness, suicides, road accidents and the trend is moving towards a long period of chronic illness at the end. Sixty one percentage of death are due to Stroke, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma. Non communicable diseases which come with long period of illness and treatment.
Long period of terminal illness will come with long time in hospitals, care homes or our very own homes. So are they good?
See-I’m an architect and not a doctor. So unlike my mom and dad my sisters and umpteen cousin who always think of relieving pain in a chronic illness I think differently.
I remember the last leg of my grand mom’s journey, a small fragile woman who in her eighty eighth year suffered total paralysis due to a stroke. My dad refused to subject her weak delicate body to pain of the needles. He knew from his years of medical experience that she would not have the strength to bear it so he shifted her to a naturopathy center for alternative treatment.
Her mornings were well spent amidst lushgreen gardens and a visibly dreamy setting driven on a wheel chair, her eyes would invariable look up through the leaves of the many trees to watch the lavender hue of the sky change to peachy, her pupils distorted by some pressure on the brain trying to focus and her spirit fully alive. That place those surroundings giving an extraordinary meaning to her life.
This state of affairs ran for almost a year and then one fine morning it changed forever.
I heard a similar case from a friend, about his mother. She was
diagnosed with cancer and amidst the gloom of grief and
tears from loved ones, this old lady gave her acceptance for
chemotherapy that definitely took her sleep away. Her only
wish at that time was to go to sleep and wake up well. Family
and friends spent time with her, laughed with her, hugged her,
kissed her. They made her home a place to come home to from
her innumerable trips to hospital.
And I ask you, do you want a well-designed space for that last phase?Then ask the architects, for architecture definitely responds to needs of masses.
It is this architect who has made places to hang around where ideas are born and exchanged; libraries that have educated mankind and monuments of worship.
Hi Friends, dear colleagues and my respected fraternity,
It was while attending INT-EXT CONNECT 2019, Architects Meet, co-supported by The Indian Institute of Architects, Haryana & Punjab Chapters, that I got to hear and meet in person the keynote speaker, Architect Nilanjan Bhowal, on Saturday, 9th February 2019 at Chandigarh.
Sitting amongst an august gathering of some 300 architects, I heard him address on” organitecture”. Slides after slides of his architectural projects demonstrated his long standing history of responding to natural forces in creating environmentally sensitive designs and reflected his Eco-friendly strategies. His projects revealed his strength in integrating architecture within nature and using technology of local people,benefiting the community at large.
Now, if you are very keen and enthusiastic to know about his stance on sustainable architecture,read the responses on five questionnaire put up by “Builded.in” to Ar.Nilanjal Bhowal, a Gold- Medalist in Architecture from Institute of Environmental Design, Gujarat. He earned master’s in Architecture from Catholic University, Belgium and a post-graduation specialization in energy-efficient architecture from Istanbul Technical University. A recipient of several National level awards for Architecture, Interiors and conservation projects, he has more than 100 publications to his credit and many authored articles with major dailies. A young entrepreneur, heading Design Consortium- a south -Delhi based firm, he is sought by media as well for his contributions and efforts.
1. Builded.in : Can you elaborate on your ideology of organitechture. What can you say is your best reward for choosing to adopt this ideology?
Ar.Nilanjal Bhowal-The prevailing climatic issues and environmental threats are a matter of global concern. The profession we are in requires us to extend our horizon beyond materials and construction, to human psychology and environmental upgradation.
We have thus created our own niche with ‘Organi.Tech.Ture’, which reflects the core values of sustainability, comfort, art and modernity, all synthesized in the contemporary design forms which are aesthetically pleasing while being organic and technologically advanced at the same time. Organi.Tech.Ture is inspired from the two strong forces of nature and technology. The primary focus of our practice has been to evolve our own language of architecture that is rooted in our traditional learning, contextual material and sustainable construction methodology, together fused with the future ready technological comforts of modernity.
Following ideology of ‘Organi.Tech.Ture’, helps us to create designs and spaces which are much more responsive to the inhabitants, the prevailing culture and tradition and most importantly, the environment. The products of the ideology are sustainable and add to human comfort and overall development of inhabitants, making them happy and satisfied.
2. Builded.in :You are into practice of integrating architecture within nature and with local people and the community at large; do you enjoy experimenting and developing the project in this manner? If so, Can you briefly touch two of your projects where this harmony was best developed?
NB:The idea of integrating two major aspects of human existence, nature and technology, has made way for interesting and sustainable architecture solutions, which have led to the overall betterment of the community and are also deeply rooted with local people and culture.
Our primary focus remains to design in harmony with nature however two projects where it was best developed are in the Camp Forktail creek and Brooks Arthous-
Camp Forktail creek,The design addresses the vernacular as the focus for sustenance and shelter, by revisiting wattle and daub construction with wood and thatch. Optimal use of local material ensured the greenest approach to make an adventure camp work, breathe and live amongst its natural surroundings. The element of technology has been added by the use of solar panels to generate electricity.
Brooks Arthous, on the other hand, stands pretty against the beautiful landscape of Bhimtal, Uttarakhand. It is a perfect blend of nature and modern technology fused in minimalistic yet comfortable design of architectural concepts.
Brooks Arthous,is a gated community with eleven premium vacation villas designed as a remarkable fusion of traditional Kumaoni architecture, green design and pleasing aesthetics. As a part of the urban plan, all ecological aspects were taken into consideration, starting with cutting minimum trees, rain water harvesting, and pavers to reduce soil erosion.
The rain water harvesting system is designed as open channels where water trickles from shallow lily ponds into these pebbled channels. It forms good landscape feature and controls water percolating in the ground.
Developing ideas and designs on the lines of co-existence with nature has always been an interesting and thought proving method to identify new architectural elements. The experimentation on these lines never becomes monotonous; moreover, it paves way for a wider range of design solutions.
3. Builded.in :With your passion of sustainable energy how do you pay attention to the aging of buildings? Your buildings are not so temporary, and they should last as long as possible? Can you briefly touch on this aspect with an example of a project?
NB:Buildings, like humans are living entities and should be allowed to age gracefully. Construction materials have varying life spans by virtue of their properties. Natural materials like wood, brick and stone have a long life. The ancient Indian as well as Greek architecture exhibits the use of stone in buildings which are still intact. Wood construction has time and again proven the strength of wood as a construction material by being used in high seismic zones in the hilly regions of the country. These materials when used in combination with one another exemplify their properties and increase their strength thus increasing the total life span.
The Pahalgam Club, located amidst the mountain peaks of Pahalgam, along the bank of river Lidder, incorporates the local vocabulary of brick and wooden construction. The ‘Dhajji Dewari’ system, which consists of braced timber frame in various patterns has been incorporated in the construction and reflects in the elevation of the building as well. The building language uses wood in wall claddings, trusses and bridges.
4. Builded:Now that you are working in many different places — which place did you connect most and why?
NB:We have worked in drastically varying contexts not just places, ranging from the Himalayan region in Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal, to deserts region in Ramgarh, Rajasthan, to the Coastal areas in Goa, Cherai in Kerala, to High Seismic and heavy monsoon areas of North-eastern India in Manipur. The climatic conditions and geographical topography specific to each of these places being very different, calls for variable responses to design and construction. The hills of Himalayas have a cold and dry climate whereas the north east fosters a cold and windy climate. The desert state of Rajasthan has a hot and dry climate. While the coastline of India features a hot and windy climate
Fortunately, we have had the opportunity of working in each of these contexts, which are not only climatically different but are also culturally contrasting. Hence, picking up one of these is a difficult choice to make.
5. Builded.in:How have you seen your career evolve over the past decades? Has your personal approach to architecture changed?
NB:Every human being evolves due to his experiences and consciousness. My philosophy and approach has been fairly consistent- using nature in design. The only inputs which have evolved are the influence of technology. It is the meeting point of nature, materials, ecology and technology that has now prescribed my architecture.
“Arhitecture is a space you belong to, a space you relate to”-Nilanjal Bhowal
With this at heart, I end the second of the many interviews that are planned to be conducted with writers, influencers, and magnates.This interview is all public and a part of this website- builded.in.
As always I look forward to suggestions in -leave a comment- box.-Ar.Babika Goel
And it gives me immense pleasure to tell you, while I was partly busy in keeping up to the promise that together, we’ll cross businesses, speak with professionals around the world, and explore the vastness of Architecture in builded.in, –I published my first fiction book.
The lost intimacy-A story of Want-Take-Have.
A tale of a woman who choose to breathe in new beginnings & the amazing, and to breathe out false hopes & the ordinary with a die hard belief.The end in my novel is actually the beginning of her journey.
Many twists and turns await ‘Shinaya’ as she walks this less chosen path. And out there locked within the novel,she is calling out to you as she smiles.
“All you special ones can guide- please do, by leaving a short review on Amazon.I am sure you guys will figure out a powerful journey for her.”
Hi Friends, dear colleagues and my respected fraternity,
It was while attending the Prem Jain Memorial Address organized in New Delhi this 28th of January, by Prem Jain Memorial Trust, a trust founded in the memory of (Late) Dr. Prem Jain,to foster sustainable development, that I got to hear and meet in person the keynote speaker, renowned Architect Padmashree G. Shankar.
Drawing attention towards census figures, he talked about those seventy million families who have no proper shelter but dream of -safe- secure- decent environment.
His speech reflected his ability to step outside of his own bubble and into the bubbles of those people seeking total solutions for them. Addressing the architects at large he continued,” Seventy million families deprived- out in the open-Those numbers should pain us, those people should find space in the center of our heart. Don’t wish them away-just don’t stare at them and walk away.”
Awakening us to a cause he so believed in, stressing further that “The dynamics of architecture across the globe and India in particular, needs to address these issues, this poverty with-people centered Architecture- by internalizing – with meaningful intervention in vernacular architecture-That Resilant architecture which responded to climate- was fairly disaster resistant and was always evolving -that architecture needs to be revived.”
So if you are very passionate, very awakened in building a system or structure that caters for people who on their own are limited by lack of opportunities, look no further for inspiration.
Read the responses on five questionnaire put up by Builded tothe Founder and Chief Architect of Habitat Technology Group,Thiruvananthapuram, the people’s architect-
Architect Padmashree G. Shankar sir-
1. Builded: What incident/event made/influenced you to set up Habitat technology group?
Shri G Shankar: When I was a school student, I used to go to fishermen colonies to teach the womenfolk how to read and write.(as a volunteer for total literacy mission). They would go out early morning to sell fish in open market and would hit back late in the evening.We would sit together late after sharing the food for our’ literacy’ mission.That was my first interface with the have nots. I internalized the pain of poverty from them.I decided at that time itself that Whatever vocation I would choose later would be used to alleviate poverty and Architecture came in handy !
All my life , I have been trying to hold hands with them in the pursuit of peace!
Immediately after my graduation , I took up a govt job but soon was convinced that it was not to my convictions.Thats when I turned to non profit sector.
I still believe that voluntary action is the only way out.
I founded Habitat group in 1987 but then it was a one man army.Rest is history.
Now Habitat is one of the largest Non profit initiatives in
this part of the world !
2. B: What was the most challenging problem you faced in the leadership and management of Habitat technology group?
GS: It has been extremely challenging to take a less travelled road of sustainable architecture. Even now , questions are thrown at us about the durability, strength, life etc of the alternate materials and technologies.We have gone thro,’ hell and fire but we are here to stay in spite of the govt and insensitive bureaucracy!!!!The world at large do not have any option but to go for sustainable solutions.In our own way,we will continue the struggle.
3. B: What can you say is your best reward for choosing to found Habitat technology group?
GS: look at the magnitude an spectrum of buildings that we have done in the last 30 years! 150,000 individual buildings all done using appropriate interventions. 34 offices, projects across the world, 400 professionals, 40000 habitat workers!!
It has been a long journey! We have learnt from the mistakes and have gone forward.
4. B: Where would you want to see your Habitat Technology Group in next five years?
GS:Habitat is already expanding its activities.We are already partnering international development agencies and academic institutions in pursuing our laid out agenda. Habitat Bamboo initiatives, habitat employability enhancement mission(HEEM), Habitat school of green architecture are some our new initiatives.
5. B: Any memory of your professional journey you would like to share?
GS: Velappan was a freelance journalist in Thiruvananthapuram and I used to meet him regularly in some of the cultural spaces that we used to share.He got married to an activist fisherwoman and bought 2 cents of land on the beach. One day he came to my office, almost 30 years back, and asked me whether I could build a house for 10000 Rs. By that time , he had an infant son. He had a special need. He wanted a space where he could keep a large volume of books and a little space to write and read.I his hamlet within that amount.
A few years later , he died but the family was in touch with me.
A couple of years back, a young man came to me and introduced himself as Manu Velappan.It was a huge surprise for me!
Manu is a software professional now and he wanted to add a room as he was planning to get married. I asked why he wanted to add to that tiny house.He said he grew up there within that limited space and he didn’t want to leave his mother.
I added that one room!
Architecture is primarily about relationships.Its about creating meaningful spaces, lovable and affordable!
With this at heart, I end the very first of the many interviews that are planned to be conducted with writers, influencers, and magnates. Keeping up to the promise that together, we’ll cross businesses, speak with professionals around the world, and explore the vastness of this subject.The interview is all public and a part of this website.
As always I look forward to suggestions in -leave a comment- box.
“Let architecture be the reason someone smiles and believes in the goodness of its creator.”-Babika Goel.
Hi Friends, dear colleagues and my respected fraternity,
With this article my intention is to talk about NOW. Now is the age of marketing. Having succeeded in molding minds from centuries marketing is eclectic, interesting and intriguing and a question NEVER resolved for practicing mainstream architecture.
NOW or NEVER-
Architects don’t keep budgets aside for marketing, nor a dedicated staff to do that for them. So how do we architects survive?
Let us look at the funnel and identify where “you and me” are.
From the top of the funnel to the bottom of it the journey is all about the below stages-
With experience we have figured out our target audience. We have mixed and mingled with them, done a little handshake, have talked and told about ourselves. We have let them know our way of working or perhaps our way of thinking. This target market is the people we design for or are the ones that help us to connect with them. We are already walking up and down the funnel and its five stages.
The best part about our services is that whatever “you and me” create, it becomes accessible to the user and if the user expectations can be managed by way of delivering what is promised it becomes best form of marketing for “us”. We have done it and we know it.
So do “you and me” require –
Be seen by way of mingling in groups and events!?
Be heard by way of publishing articles; speaking at events!?
Be inviting by hosting webinars or meet-ups, or other public events!?
Be memorable by engaging with prospects!?The question is should we never market ourselves as architects or should we ?
I plan to conduct many interviews with writers, influencers, and magnates. The interviews will all be public and a part of this website. We’ll go on this journey together — you and me. Together, we’ll cross businesses, speak with professionals around the world, and explore the vastness of this subject.
I will be looking forward to receiving suggestions in the box – leave a comment.
friends, dear colleagues and my respected fraternity,
With this article my intention is to start an entire new series this year. Eclectic, interesting and intriguing and much related to mainstream architecture. I will be looking forward to receiving suggestions in the box – leave a comment.
Have a Wonderful New Year Ahead.
What do we mean when we say a “star” is born?
The first “stars” among architects were born when they designed buildings that acted as specific symbols for cities which were contending for status as well as assets.
The brilliance of late Zaha Hadid’s flair to weave total fluidity and the magic of the building that Frank Gehry made which revived the whole city creating “the Bilbao effect” or for that matter Norman foster‘s Reichstag building that rebranded an entire nation are just a few of the “stars” for the list goes on that evolved a new phrase- a new category -a new era “Starchitecture”
The journalists who till then were in a race to bring stories of strong personality be it an actor or a sports person, an artist or a singer to its readers had never before dived into an architect’s work. But these same journalist suddenly elevated these individual architects generating ripples in journalism.
The blind frenzy with which internet responded made them a brand. Greater the number of Google clicks on the blockbuster building the higher the status of the individual architect grew in measuring his brilliance, his “star” effect- making him a brand a “starchitect.”
Eventually forcing the developers,the planners,the controllers,to commission a “starchitect”on their projects in hope of quick clearance of budgets & plans. In this continuous rush to sign them an entire new phenomena unfurled-
*These “starchitects” who started their journey, to differentiate a city were seen dotting the skylines with their signature styles in order to get more and more acknowledgement of their brand on the digital world and last of all, if we must say as a physical space to inhabit.*
And here”you &me”many decades later are being ushered to witness the mass production of barely distinguishable buildings. So tell me –
Should we acclaim and respect these “starchitects” who are uniting the many cities of the world by giving them same skylines?
Should the next generation strive to have a style for the purposes of building a successful brand, and hence a successful business?
-architect Babika Goel
Disclaimer–No injury or disrespect is intended to any particular person or brand with this article.
A popular story of three cute pigs that build their own houses resonates in every play school and homes of small children. The story had pictures that showed how one pig built a house of straw while the second pig built his house with sticks. They built their houses very quickly because they were lazy and then sang and danced all day. The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks;
One of the reasons this captivating story left its mark on growing kids was because of the illustrations that the picture book carried of the big bad wolf that tried to huff and puff and blow all the houses. He blew the first two but could not bring the third house down, he just could not.
When read to small children, I have myself witnessed their laughter at that image, so much so that this happy gurgle of sound has etched in my memory forever and as for kids’ hard work and dedication pays off was the moral of the story.
Since then I have wondered several time, why architectural colleges have never quoted this captivating story while teaching us chapters on brick masonry for some light moments.?!
In the story
•It was the brick house that could not be broken down as compared to houses built of straw and sticks.
•Perhaps, the third pig realized better construction technology and right material saves a shelter from natural disasters like earthquakes, fire etc. and provides shelter against unforeseen calamities as in his case the wolf.
Yes, many attributes make brick a practical and popular construction choice. Having said that, I believe in India, agricultural land is slowly being sacrificed to make quick money through much in demand brick kilns. The clay for bricks comes from this land and to achieve good quality bricks these kilns also uses scarce coal, depleting India of its rich natural resources.
Then, why are we not adopting alternative innovative materials, given that we also have a very large work force and very little employment avenues for them?
Ferro cement is one such material which will not require expensive manufacturing plants and the skill set required for it will only be an extension of traditional skills our masons are much used to.
The raw material that goes in it is wire mesh, small diameter iron wires for skelton while sand and cement for binding, making it a better alternative to brick because it not only reduces cost by reducing overall RCC consumed in the structure but also promises to make the structure earthquake resilient,termite proof and even monolith if desired.
If requirement is for thermal insulatation, then two layers of wire mesh and iron wires are erected and thermocol layer is inserted in between the skeleton, mortar is then forced both sides either by hand like plastering or by grunting in case time is a constraint. The surfaces are then smoothed and painted. The thickness achieved will be much less than finished brick masonry, even with a thermal cavity.
Various flowing shapes with concrete is where it is primarily used worldwide.
Here in India, the technology has been so far adopted popularly in making water tanks, swimming pools, boundary walls, domes and small houses.Being an earthquake resilient technology, houses and school buildings were constructed in Gujarat post the massive earthquake but it still needs a kick off by us the architects.
In today’s time, India has no defined architecture; we seem to have lost our traditional and vernacular approach under the heavy whipping of British colonization.
Leave alone the rampant housing structures, our city houses have lost their Indian flavor too, being overshadowed by the dominance of European architecture. The havelis’ which stood on our soil pre-partition days were walled enclosure with a collection of numerous rooms each responding to its own function and the open space in between served as a collective space for multi functions’. The traditional architecture adhered to strict and sacred laws of building, allowing lots of open space and consisting of spacious courtyards
That does not mean we do not have good housing or houses now, we do, but they exists as dots on our geography. These dots are property of the rich and somewhere good architecture is available to them alone; of course, here the small time developers with their xeroxed apartments mushrooming on every breathable space will tell us they build for the masses in response to what they want and will tell us they do no wrong.
However you and I, as architects know that if we design on basis of focus group we will pretty much land up with copies of existing.
I ask my fraternity –
Should we as architects work towards empowering our associations and our council to do two things in wake of what’s building up-
Force the builders to use the best designs, to use quality materials and if have to build densely, build well.
Educate the people in our planning departments about what constitutes as great, sustainable and useable architecture.
Let us join hands to walk the road less travelled-and give post independence architecture a new meaning!
In Delhi toilets are building up in locations where affordable housing should also have been, closer to the employment hubs and market spaces.
Affordable housing across globe means houses for the people in the lower part of the social pyramid, for whom to own a home is a far fetched dream.
It has always been a challenge across the globe;
However, India seems to have found a solution with its PMAY
Where the built up area has changed to carpet area, a grant of infrastructure status is provided to developers, interest rates for interested home owners are slashed , loan limit expanded and tax norms eased for private builders-
What more could anyone have asked for.
But amidst all this the real definition of affordable as we read and understood in our architecture books is lost.
The planning of affordable housing in proximity of mass transit and its being linked to employment hubs stands ignored.
An expert would surely say that India has broken this challenging bubble for tier 2 and tier 3 cities; however as metro has high land cost within city limits it will develop only on outskirts for cities like Delhi and Mumbai. And Urban dreams will stay quashed.
So which class of Urban income group stands benefited?
Had metro cities provided land for affordable housing in its heart just as they do for their toilets it would perhaps been of advantage for the employee class, but at outskirts?!
Surely a 645 square feet area for a house at outskirts would be a nice recreational space for a nuclear family that would lap it up at 15-20 lakhs,perhaps good for retired people who don’t need everyday connection with city.
is it simply a shot in the dark to plug the gap demonetization has created for real estate sector? I ask you –
………And as on the lands of our very own capital city stroked one more demolition, sound waves of disruption spewed up in the very fraternity which created it;
A pendulum till then, which hung with great certainty to its clock, moving precisely at required intervals, started oscillating with great vigour,…
The clock though singular is representing public architecture.
The pendulum though lone represents the entire architect fraternity that is now oscillating in between acceptance and denial of their very being !!
and in this hubble bubble and buzz created, I could hear a unified voice rising from the fraternity- A whisper, a longing for protection, sustenance and security “for” the next public building…. “by” the public through their involvement in every new building created “of “public needs.
and then I heard my own voice asking
Whether the new public building and many more that will stand on the grounds of the demolished be secure enough?
After all, this upcoming one has certainly become noticeable “to” the public………..
Sitting amidst the dark jungle of steel, concrete and glass, I could hear a wolf cry, a distant cynical laughter erupting, shaking, questioning my very being……………
Fascinating, it seems when one thinks how during the British era, Delhi earned its status of national capitol, and central power from pre- independence era got strong control in matters relating to the architecture.
“Clock -ticks” for destruction of Contemporary buildings in the capital that came up in the post-independence period in wake of rapid urbanisation.
Delhi urban art commission realized that generations of nostalgic memories and value attached with Chanakya cinema was destroyed with its falling to ground.
Perhaps nothing but a “heritage tag “would save the remaining.
Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), conservation NGO, was entrusted by DUAC to draw up a list of such iconic buildings and submit to The Heritage Conservation Committee(HCC).
The NGO submitted list of 62 buildings that included the Asiad Village, British Council Library, Ashoka Hotel, Pragati Maidan’s Hall of Nations etc., construction completed for some dating back to 1955. That was 2013.(click the underlined to read the link for the list)
With this list HCC was requested to initiate suggestions for inclusions or deletions as final decision by urban ministry.
But somewhere between the list of 62 submitted by INTACH and its approval, further pruning was done and we lost Hall of nations.(click the underlined to read the minutes).
Every country has passed through the stage similar to what India is passing in the present time. The difference is that western countries had a continuity because of self-rule and that they could organise themselves quickly. The problem in India gets complex because of a complexity of political system, as also priorities. One thing is clear and that Government gets anything done immediately if only there is awareness and political will and this is the key which should be tapped with strategy-Kanvinde, Achyut P.. “Architecture and Changing Realities.”