Critical Review

Building foot over bridges as public spaces and not just infrastructure

 

Public spaces occupy multiple impressions in our collective con­sciousness: be it a park, a garden, or perhaps an open-air square. But when I see the foot-over-bridges (FOBs) mushrooming all over India, I feel how easily we have ignored this most visible space that could have been humanely and coherently linked. We need to consider each foot over bridge in its wider urban context, as both a movement channel forming part of the road network (i.e. a Link) and as a place in its own right.

1

It is unfortunate that in this era of rapidly developing urban-scape, the burden of approval of these FOBs falls on those who want to simply economize by using modular steel structures in the old-fashioned way, thereby letting this urban space in the city skyline get lost in sheer functionality, and without a thought to its aesthetic appeal and potential as a meaningful public space.

2

 

Imagine walking on such a steel foot over-bridge. The fast- moving traffic below is what one happens to see when they look down through the steel railings, and towards the sky, a vast sense of nothingness!!! This ‘nothingness’ amidst the cacophony of horns and speeding traffic is surely not an uplifting experience. We, who all are already so weighed down by the daily grind of life will surely be forced to just walk through this type of FOB without even acknowledging its very presence and perhaps thinking “Oh my god, it’s another rushed day and I just want to get it through.”

Is this what a city gives to its users?

Bridges are built to connect and bring people together. Should we not retrieve FOB as its definition implies?

Such a possibility is there if allow our minds to look at FOBs as spaces that can be functionally appealing and emotionally connecting us as well. Imagine a FOB that has small sculptures joined with chain links to form an interesting railing and as the FOB extends its network in different directions, well lit signage, benches, coffee spots and green plants is all what the eye can spot on. Graffiti and murals on the roof to be pleasing breaks as one looks up to the vastness of the sky, and the whole thing lighted up with attractive lightning. In such a setting won’t the mundane activities of the day be suddenly forgotten? Cut-outs & cafes where people can safely transit, and mingle. Won’t one enjoy the time spent here and walk through the bridge feeling refreshed?

Such a sensational foot over bridge, with its vibrancy and atmosphere, would not only be a delight to the user but also give a cinematic experience to the beholder, the motorist passing below the FOB. An FOB, thus conceptualized, can elicit imaginative responses, if we, as architects, make an attempt to retrieve and reclaim this lost public space.

This brings us together to understand that a bridge should be a sensory experience connecting us at a different level, literally. And it is my heartfelt request that we should address the lost definition that historical bridges from time immemorial have established, and which most urban cities around the world are trying to achieve.

A city I recall for having the best network of pedestrian walkways is Hong Kong. Despite the city’s fair share of humidity and noise levels from the traffic below, the walkways spanning across the many high rise buildings function as an easy and enjoyable bridge to traverse on foot. In fact, all the public and private spaces in Hong Kong are connected through a well-planned network of walkways, bridges and covered pathways. Even roads, railways and ferries are connected by this very network. What more could a city walker ask for?

I experienced here that the FOBs could be separated into private and public bridges. Public bridges were used by tourists and residents, while the private bridges led specifically to one or multiple households, business entrances, offices and shopping malls.

covering shortest distances

 

The bye laws of the city allow buildings to be connected through bridges with air conditioned corridors, so interconnectivity at office hours works well.

crossing wide rds

Some FOBs have glass railings that provide both security and clear visibility from the road, and discourage hawkers and beggars from squatting there.

modern materialssafe and visibility

These well-lit FOBs interconnect shopping malls, office lobbies, train stations, parks and other public/private spaces. Escalators instead of ramps deter two wheelers, allowing pedestrians to move around with ease.

easy exits at intervals

 

 

 

The design of a FOB should somewhere address the emotional connect of the city’s people as a public space, and perhaps be designed as an architectural marvel and as the city’s landmark. The Airport Parkway FOB in Ottawa, for example, has become a much admired landmark due to its striking appearance that contributes to the city’s collective identity. It features a curved cement tower that rises 30 metres above the Airport Parkway. The bridge is suspended by 14 cables that are lit up at night by recessed LED lights in the railings and overhead lights in the tower.

3

I have always wanted to get a view of our cities from a great height, to walk in the midst of a busy street yet not be overwhelmed by the traffic, or jostled by the crowd, and to feel the pulse of the city through the interconnectedness of its welcoming public spaces.

Let us together make this real.

Let us claim this public space that is presently lost to our view, and, therefore, lost to our imagination and creative sensibility.


written by Ar. Babika Goel


-My special thanks to my friend Ar. Mukul Goyal for his inputs, patience and advice in getting this together.

Spend a little pink and grow healthier with green.

Spend a little pink and grow healthier with green.


Adding indoor plants to your home or workspace will have happier moods, better job satisfaction, and stronger relationships and its not me saying this but research all around the world.

 

IMG-20170325-WA0018
It’s possible to get similar benefits by roaming outside in your balcony and looking lovingly at your twelve year old bonsai collection, -picture courtesy  Ar. Sumit Varmani
IMG-20170325-WA0017
or perhaps enjoying herbs on your railings.-picture courtesy Ar. Sumit Varmani

 

But then why not bring outdoors to indoors and “breath-in” a healthy you everyday?  Yes, the above is just like shedding new light to an old subject. But then how many of us do this to seek health benefits?

IMG-20170325-WA0011
Invariably plants are added in indoor spaces to brighten up a corner,-picture courtesy Ar. Maneesha Srivastava Bhatnagar
IMG-20170325-WA0015
Or perhaps to enhance the aesthetics.-picture courtesy Ar. Maneesha Srivastava Bhatnagar

 

lets check some crazy ideas to grow health around us.

shoes-boots-plants-house-entry-wall-decoratinghippity-hoppitytyrewall1bags

9b0667f42518cba004380565d428c32954ff4081ba450-indoor-succulent-garden-xlnAnd follow the rule below to have a happier you-

In office or classroom settings

  • To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. , position plants so each person has greenery in view. source-

For an 1,800-square-foot house

  • To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots . That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots)source-

 

home 1
-Picture courtesy budding photographer Ms. Bhavya Goel

 

“Zing” may perhaps be achieved by adopting  bizzare and waste containers and planting them with indoor plants that your new- crisp- pink- currency can buy  and then perhaps one day you may lose interest in  having to always look  at old photographs  or sit by a window to get that similar mood upliftment  🙂


-Ar. Babika Goel

Window Systems in residences:facade series 4

A window system is the entire experience of using it.  Window system importers are bringing systems that meet quality standards (further verified by external certification bodies), while giving value for money, meeting personal preferences, and enabling seamless installation, and hassle-free, low cost maintenance. Window types include Sliding, Slide & Fold, Casement, Tilt & Turn, and Louvered, all of which are customizable with accessories such as handles and locks, and can be motorized.

The market today is offering windows in uPVC, aluminium, steel, engineered wood, Aluwood combination, and fibre glass. Fibex, introduced by the Italian Agostini Group, is a frame made of glass fibre for maximum strength and insulation with a combination of external and internal cladding options of glass/wood/bronze/stone.

New surface finishes being launched in the past decade such as aluminium profiles with multi-dimensional wood coating, cladding such as stone, metal, wood, or leather to match the interiors, are much in demand for their aesthetic appeal. Agostini Group is coming up with a series of shutters and blinds in aluminium and aluminium-wood with insulating fibex inserts that ensure incomparable thermal insulation, and special designs which give limited ventilation without compromising on security. Indian company Artius is offering (Canadian) wood systems with features designed to suit the Indian climate.

A country like India needs window systems which are dust proof, thermally insulated, secure and sound proof (where required). Interlocking seals between sashes that make sliding windows completely sealed and secure, trackless systems with a cavity at the bottom so that dust does not collect and the windows are easy to clean (for instance Artius engineered wood systems), and outward opening windows where the sash can be moved for an easy to clean position, are some options.

Larger size windows will require huge glass sizes, so it is important to consult glass manufacturers for double glass units that take into account wind load, security, structural strength, acoustics, thermal insulation, etc. Glass compositions with thickness varying from 37mm to as high as 50mm are being used in German company Schuco’s aluminium windows systems that ensure and guarantee the required assembly.

Imported window systems from Europe are meeting the need for professionalism, innovation and quality in premium residential, commercial and hospitality projects in India. These companies are able to take up projects to offer exclusive and innovative solutions that adapt to the uniqueness of Indian climate conditions so that the “closure” actually becomes an integral part of the building. This means creating a project that is not limited to standard doors, windows and shutters, but one that enhances the architecture and environment for which it is destined.

 

This write-up is  a continuation to  Window Systems in residences: façade series 2 http://builded.in/?p=421


 

The article is also being published in MGS Architecture Magazine(Modern Green Structures & Architecture) February 2017 issue.

-Architect Babika Goel20140405_213915-1-1-1-1

ETHICS IN BUSINESS OF ARCHITECTURE versus DEMONETISATION.

 

Today, 12;16AM

With her, love at first sight happened over a time

But demonetization striked overnite.

However, the effect of both will last over her lifetime….

When did being an architect became her lifestyle-she never realized but it was worth her while!!!

With each passing year, buildings were all she looked at, details were what she absorbed and observing people all the time, consumed her. And now- living without a consistent cash flow was becoming the norm with people around her.

25th September 1989

Was her first day in architecture college. In the introduction meeting that day with seniors- was what had got “her and him” to grow on and a wedlock in years to come.This chance meeting and the connection was never planned;nor at year end 2016, the fervor to exchange  every thousandier and five hundredier  in great urgency with new pink currency avoidable.

Just a week back on 25th November 2016, she and he attended a presentation at their college grounds with many other fellow mates, some her own batch mates while few seniors and lot many juniors.

The slides explained the design scheme of buildings in Amravati capital complex. Sadly construction and design was awarded to someone else though the announced winners were Maki & associates; Competitions are won by one and awarded to another.   A very sorry state of affairs was prevailing. Pathetic!!!! the speaker said.

She put up a similarity on the above said presentation.  Just as many offices of architecture are thriving due to mishandled competition and governance cashing on loose set rules in documents, simillarly  political parties  everywhere at the moment were trying best to make a win- win for themselves over demonetisation.

In a deep set tone, he always ready to share his thoughts  with her replied that both these situations required a clean order. The council to take control of norms and regulations in competitions, while for political parties the court should exercise its power and law.

Some veterans of the college sitting at the back of the hall were discussing graver issues.She could overhear them say that the new gen of students in their perusal of architecture as business, were practicing as they deemed fit, forgetting all ethics as if it was never taught. fees structure would be lowered than the set and everything under the table was being done to get a project.

She however perceived this situation same to same as how unfortunately most of nations population had been evading taxes thinking it was their birth right to hoard wealth.

He could read the gloom over shadowing her eyes. Many a times she had shared her thoughts to him in words and he had spoken with his eyes. The equation was reversed that day, the  dilemma society faced she had spoken with her eyes, he whispered,  all is right.

If council of architecture could inspect and check if  norms were followed and exercise restriction on practise for defaulters ,  all would be fine. Also sooner or later people will sync with the cashless economy too. He could see the overbearing shadow of gloom clearing and a smile appearing  on  her face again.

The back seats conversations were becoming  heated up. A senior professor could be heard lamenting’; how in quest of making money, many architecture colleges had mushroomed. Due to quantum of colleges inspection from COA suffered. He expressed his anguish that due to this quality education was suffering. There is a definite lack in inspection of schools by COA body and good education was lacking

And there she added, so was the thought catching public attention ; that perhaps many would be staring at unavoidable economic crisis due to long term effects of unplanned demonetisation drive nationwide .

Yeah, truly as the ethics in architecture is seemingly getting banished so is the old currency all over the nation getting vanished she continued.

Nowdays her paytm transaction gets groceries and a monthly account while a shop takes care of  necessities –milk, butter, bread, juice, chips atta, daal chawaal and soup to name few.

All laughed on similar experiences, and the professor added more to his bit.

He lashed Clients everywhere – rich or poor paid a large chunk in cash which would now be slashed.

Architecture which was always about ROMANTICism  with design and ORNAMENTism during construction would now add BUDGETism

The professor continued that this would be the effect on clients due to demonetisation while the process of architecture will stay untouched.

Some where from the crowd a voice called out   yes-we eat the elephant in small pieces. For we are taught by our profession that however big the design scheme be its construction can always be made possible by phasing and staging.And therefore, no situation in an architect’s life is ever overbearing but instead a gratifying thesis.

These words so profound, would stay with her for always  and the evening would not be forgotten; she thought.

Perhaps that’s the reason- “architecture though governed by society is not ruled by it, rather architecture helps  defining the society  and will always step in -for blooming the very society that created it”…….she was surprised as her thoughts had left from her lips, too loud and clear for all to hear  and too late for her to retrieve them back.

The new ism in art of architecture will finally evolve -The century was awaiting this masterstroke and just as a doctor diagnosis is respected, each and every architect will be heralded.

The time has come to stand together and give our unabiding support.

An architect’s decisions affect public safety?!

22 AUG 2016

3:31pm

“Super stroked to showcase, the 325 bedded Venkateshwar super speciality hospital …” read the Facebook post of Dipankar Mazumdar, an architect incredibly talented and insanely nice to hang out with.

A picture of the building with its surrounding was attached and the post threw some more words across-

‘The operations having been started just few days back… the hospital building was a much needed medical facility in sub city of Dwarka (Delhi-SW)”, it  blissfully ended with a congratulatory note to “all those who were involved in planning design and execution of the project”.

3:44 pm

We all do this as professionals.  Share our feelings for our project

  • Proud -when objective is met.
  • Happy -when we have bigger budgets, cheaper materials, braver clients, elastic building regulations, professional team and tolerant neighbours.
  • Contend-when buildings stand the test of time.

4.00pm 

Totally wrapped in these thought I entered the TAJ hotel conference room, to attend a panel discussion on-“An architect’s decisions affect public safety”

On the screen was a building on fire. One could see smoke billowing from below, and people stuck on top floor.

building-on-fire

On the stage were seated some 4 panellists around a small coffee table and I could see the introductions almost over by the moderator- Mr. Lalit Pandey; who as I know is a leading consultant of façade engineering for more than two decades now. A man with background in engineering, and experience of working over several facades.

A young architect in the front row was giving the meaning of façade perhaps as he understood-to some 80 odd architects seated in the hall in rapt attention

A façade is a simple self-supporting structure that handles its own weight, through a system of-

  • Brackets that provide fixity
  • A Grid which is usually a metallic structure spaced to withstand forces
  • Skin –held by the grid usually covers the building – it could be glass, Aluminium composite panels or a host of other materials in much smaller measures.

Façade protects against-Weather, Noise, pollution, withstand earthquake and resist winds; perhaps with a pleasing look

Mr. Pandey to be referred as moderator from now on smiled down and asked –“WHERE did the process of thinking: overlook the fire requirement?”

That’s what the panellist had collected for, he added -to offer unbiased opinion on all aspects of fire safety independent of any manufacturer, supplier or installer.

building-on-fire-2

The slide had changed and I had finally with organizer’s help located my reserved seat in the front row next to a known face. Seated comfortably, I could clearly see Panellist A picking momentum to start the session –

How should a building approach be towards fire?

He emphasised it is important that the difference between ‘reaction-to-fire’ and ‘fire resistance’ is cleared to understand the subject thoroughly.

Reaction-to-fire mainly deals with Classifying material on basis of –

  • if they burn (combustibility);
  • how easily they burn (ignitability and flame spread)
  • What happens when they burn (smoke development and resulting toxicity).

Architects all over use material classification to ensure the right material is in the right place with the aim of preventing a fire from starting, or limiting its spread.  I could instantly relate this to the brick column structure of the hospital building in the FB post where Kalzip façade system was used.

whereas, Fire resistance, mainly addresses building systems (such as walls, floors, ceilings, and doors) and their compartmentation abilities.

_ The FB post once again ran through my mind and I knew for instance, that the 20mm thick block work used there is fire rated for two hours as per NBC. As Fire resistance is always measured in terms of ‘time’ the rating would help to know how much time is there to  enable patients and people to get out in time, as well as limiting damage to property.

Back on the stage Panellist B continued the discussion at times where compartmentation is required in fire safety strategy, the gap between the façade and the building (typically at the floors), must be sealed to limit fire spread. This is called ‘perimeter fire stopping’ in architectural jargon. To confine a fire to the zone of origin, for a specified time, thereby preventing fire spread and leaving more time for safe evacuation of the building occupants.

For example as shown in the below slide-; A vertical fire spreading can be broken by perimeter systems that seal the gap between the floor slab and the façade.

 

perimetre-fire-stopping

Ooh..so this  building mentioned in the FB post  has brick structure and therefore does not require this perimetre fire stopping, went my crazy mind. O-yeah wemaweh!!- this was becoming more and more crystal clear that buildings with glass, aluminium and steel require it.

 In the audience someone almost thought the same  coz  I heard this question put up  – Architects have been using a common façade material ACP or aluminium composite panel for many years now but is it fire resistant?

Panellist B by now had everyone’s attention, and like a college professor he answered,

Non-fire rated or budgetary versions of ACP often comprise a 2-5mm core of low density polyethylene (LDPE) sandwiched between two layers of aluminium (generally 0.5mm thick on each side).

If a fire test is performed all would know polyethylene catches fire but as a composite material, the fire has to go through the two external layers of aluminium before it can ignite the inside core. It will not be able to penetrate the skin and therefore never reach inside –as the slide showed

acp

But perhaps that will not be the scenario in a real life building fire. He sighed!!

True -spoke my head”… in a real building scenario vertical fire  will reach in between the panel.”

If test don’t give us real information about such an important safety factor what does-?!I heard an exasperated audience ask

– The answer to this is a more aggressive fire test.- Panelist C answered a tad bit loud perhaps totally excited at this turn of discussion. All focus was on him now.

He continued, -full-scale mock-ups can be staged with the wall system containing the material fixed to a test wall two storeys high. NFPA 285 or BS 8414 are two such tests that can be done.

In these test, a fully developed fire is simulated by two ways

  1. adjacent to the end wall,  thinking it spreads from neighboring building(an outside fire reaching the mock up building)
  2. or-it can be staged breaking out from a window.(fire from inside spreading out in the mock up building)

The heat release from these tests is sufficient to properly test the façade and evaluate its performance in spread-of-fire terms.

This ignited more questions from the audience.

Hands were shooting up and the race had started as to who would fire their question first-

Question 1-what happens when the glass of the façade breaks or the aluminium melts?

glass-on-fire

A common solution- spoke the Panellist D is the selection of more durable materials that are not going to break or melt once the fire starts such as fire rated glass or steel framing or durable panelling.glass-fire-proof

Question2What if the fire starts in an adjacent building?

adjascent

If two buildings are abutted, in that case answered Panellist D, that the resilience of the adjoining building must be part of design.

5.42 pm

It was almost an hour and a half of knowledge sharing and questionnaire round.By now, the moderator  was wrapping the discussion. The overall summary  went like-

Fundamental principles of fire control are prevention and containment.

  • Materials should be selected to minimise the chance of a fire developing.
  • Systems should be designed so that if a fire does develop, it can be contained to the greatest extent possible.
  • Containment is intended to provide occupants with enough time to escape, limit fire spread and minimise damage.

6.00 pm

Tea break was announced and all were requested to come back in half an hour for the next panel discussion.

 

Chronicle’s of theTAJ hotel-

From its construction to auction the saga –

On the site of the old Fonseca Hotel stands, the iconic hotel at 1 Man Singh road, New Delhi. The 23-room Fonseca metamorphosed into 300-room five-star icon of luxury -the TAJ-and thus started the journey of capturing hearts and minds to battering controversies. Now the high court order defines what was once signed.

1947

During partition many people left behind all their possessions and property to avoid the violence and flee to their new country.

During those very Partition days  J E D Fonseca was provided the lease of hotel Fonesca at 1 Mansingh road by its owner.
1968
J E D Fonseca lived till 1970 and trans-ferried interest of 1 Mansingh property to Spences hotels and Mr.A.K. Johar sometime in 1968 -however director of estates was taking steps to acquire the property.

After Partition, as per law all “evacuee property” came under director of estates.

1975

In between all this hullah bullah comes in Indian Hotels-IHCL(company owned by TATA)  that agreed to buy out lessees valued at Rs 25 lakh from Spences hotels. And after acquiring it demolished the Fonesca hotel to build TAJ.

1976

NDMC stopped new construction work on 1 Man Singh road

1978

Lawfully, Government hands over 1 Man Singh property to civic body -New Delhi Municipal Corporation.

A deal was then signed on October 10, 1978 which allowed NDMC to say they leased out the property to IHCL for 33 years and up came -The luxurious 11 storey hotel-THE TAJ!!!

 2010

NDMC gets into discussions with IHCL to renew the lease for the next tenure, a year before expiry.
but some six months before the expiry of the lease, and in keeping with the guidelines of the Delhi Master Plan, the Urban Development Ministry suggested NDMC to carry out an open bidding auction to renew the lease.

 2011

October 10, the lease expired.

In great haste NDMC renews the lease for another year. Since then, the NDMC has been extending the lease for fixed periods.

CONTROVERSY-

•The property by NDMC, was given to Indian Hotels Company Limited in 1978 on lease for 33 years. The controversy started in 2011 when the lease ended. The civic agency was set to renew it, but had to postpone the matter as the Union Urban Development Ministry suggested auctioning of the property.
“When an auction can be done in two months, then why is NDMC extending the lease for another year, was the then opposition BJP question in 2012 for yet another extension given.
•Urban ministry cried foul on extension been given. An NDMC note written back to urban ministry and reviewed by Mint in 2012 stated that ministry suggestion was not in accordance with the agreement between NDMC and IHCL, which is a legally binding document.

IHCL knocks the door of HC
 2016,October 27

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court gives nod to auctioning of its iconic Taj ManSingh property by New Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Plus, IHCL will also not get the benefit of ‘Right of First Refusal (ROFR) when its owner, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), auctions it, said the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

‘Right of first refusal’ would have entitled IHCL to enter into negotiations with NDMC for a fresh contract, first.

2016, November 09

Indian Hotels Company ltd has moved the supreme court against the auction of Taj Man Singh Hotel

 2016, Today

•Why a lease agreement between a civic body and a corporate party is given weightage over law?
•Why urban ministry lawful suggestions are overruled time and again?
•Why when the lease license was signed in another time, another period and under another act the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 and now when that licensee has exercised option, further extensions or renewals of the license were even given a thought?
•Why civic bodies are unable to follow laws and policies and are able to provide reasons for renewing lease deeds?
•Why a leasee was able to walk away with nine renewals when it should not have been entitled to even one?

Is it situations, circumstances, emotions or is it just relations? the thought continues-

Window Systems in residences

 

27th October meeting on site-

11:39 am

Three vendors have been called to do a presentation of window system in front of the client.

They will start in twenty minutes from now.

Each of the three will talk about their material and the dimensions of sections best suited for the given window sizes.

Each will be given twenty minutes to describe their material with samples and quotation.

11:42 am

They are fifteen in a make shift room (the site –a residence is still in brickwork stage) the client family, the architects team and PMC team. They sit around a big conference table prepared by joining together few four seater plastic tables.

An internal discussion is going on; the client is briefed on the three available choices on which the presentations will be based-

  • Engineered Wood window system
  • Aluminium window system
  • UPVC window system

The discussion further moves towards what should be the choice of glass.

  • DGU would give them thermal insulation
  • Laminated glass would provide sound insulation
  • A DGU and a laminated glass will give them both the sound and thermal insulation.

11:59 am

The client family has many questions. They are firing it likes bullets from AK47.

  • What’s laminate glass?
  • What’s full form of DGU?
  • So the section of aluminium will be thinner than wood section?
  • What length versus height can be achieved in wood?
  • Can we have a wood looking aluminium section? Then will it not give fake appearance; after all the section is much thinner than a real wood section would be?
  • If Upvc section cannot take height above eight feet than an opening size bigger will have a dividing member in length? Will it appear something like old types ventilators provided generally above external doors?
  • Do ten year guarantee/warranty to a product mean that’s what its life is?

Answers are coming from across the table by PMC and from the Architect as per their experiences.

Some very technical ones are being left for the vendors to answer. They will be naturally be better informed about their systems.

12:09 pm

Scheduled time to call in the vendors- one by one- is now due. The internal discussion stops.

And all look towards the entrance of the room.

The first vendor steps in. His team is carrying a mini window-2 feet by 2 feet in size but the sections used in the sample are for a bigger opening. A presentation on a laptop is opened to inform client about the technical features. A very serious discussion starts on quotation handed. Scope of moving down the price by substantial percentage was expected by the vendor. He very well left the debate for the end.

1.50 pm

All three vendors have shown their samples, described their systems and left.

1.53 pm

Site team files all the ball park figures received. Discussion back on table is now more specific. The understanding in-depth; the questions much more challenging.

  • So a window system is the entire experience of using it and not restricted to material it is made up of -like wood, aluminium or Upvc?
  • Therefore material can be any of the three?  It’s the system which has to be chosen!
  • Should choice be totally depending on budgetary constraints or value for money or just personal preference?

2.05 pm

The decision for selecting the most suited became more clear and as the points are spoken aloud the site team notes down-

  • All three presentations went well but what would be most suitable needs to be decided-in terms of delivery period, installation and maintenance later.
  • The lady of the house would want the glass to be cleaned easily. So need was to pick a window shutter in fixed openings that could slide enough to allow someone’s hand standing inside to clean the glass pane from outside in case no balconies available.
  • As this residence is coming up on the main road it will definitely need a system to be dust proof and not like conventional doors/ windows that are made from Burma teak wood. Conventional wood logs cut into sections have gaps from where dust steps in. So conventional was out and these modern systems were in.
  • They would definitely look for locking systems that are burglar proof and jams the window at various points.
  • The rain water should not seep in.
  • It should stand all seasons and be heat proof. Like aluminium system shown had a thermal barrier which was optional. Aluminium itself is a good conductor of heat so this barrier would definitely be required if aluminium is chosen over others.
  • Corner treatment of an L shape window was equally felt important.
  • Sliding with folding shutters was definitely a go getter.
  • Meshes designed for available designs had to be deep dived into.

2.30 pm

Next meeting scheduled to take decision further.

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.

ACP

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.

jali
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?

 

 

storefront
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 |www.makearchitects.com/  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 Babika.goel@gmail.com or be a guest(page in critical review tab of Builded.in) 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.

Are you looking for wall cladding that will hide imperfections or a cladding that will provide a decorative finish?

My nurturing phase of architecture went into understanding this term –creativity.

As students we were made to believe “That creativity is innate and not random”-That some people have a special gene of creativity. Really-?!!

zaha hadidInspired from  Le Corbusier’s messy sketches to Zaha Hadid’s vast paintings, I learnt every skill of drawing by hand. In the last year of my graduation, I wished a zillion times for creativity to strike me, adopt me & transform me!!…… 🙂

 

devil wears paradaOut from college and working as a full time architect for a known firm in Delhi, my early career years went into designing residences for the celebrities and the nouveau riche of Delhi. The kinds seen often in ash grey Armani coat over a linen shirt-accentuated with that black polka dotted silk cravat; Windsor knotted on neck. Kinda reminds me of “The Devil Wears Prada”& “The Page 3”  tabloids filled with perfect pictures of them.

 Those days  made me  realise a wall is the best place for a decorator to showcase his creativity.

Picture courtesy-Oddy wall coverage
Picture courtesy-Oddy wall coverage

 

My walls well blended with its environment and yet stylish to be a statement, Said to me-

Creativity comes- by own experience, memory, observation, and/or imagination. Real creativity crops up from an idea. An idea which is not borrowed from books or is a copy of other artists work; but rather an inspiration from something we see, perceive, observe and absorb. We are drawn into it because something there speaks to our deeper self-“to be shaken and pounded to the level of deconstruction & then stirred, improvised, reengineered, tested to materialize it”.

picture courtesy-World of stones
picture courtesy-World of stones

 

Further down  my career lane  I moved onto displaying this creativity on various receptions and rooms of the many boutique hotels I designed.Experimenting with various materials gave me an unbound joy.

It was as if a child is given dough to design its own shapes. I remember when sitting down with my girl and some play dough, I never thought that adding shells to our play would inspire interesting questions and creations. But it did!!

dough

With a wide selection of wall cladding materials to choose from so did my work!- Sometimes using the most popular -Paint and wallpaper- where a quick change was required without spending a lot of money.

picture courtesy-Oddy Creations
picture courtesy-Oddy Creations

 

Other times decorative panels, wood paneling, decorative stone and brick would replace the ordinary wall. With use of more modern options like 3D textured wall panels etc.  slowly and steadily my walls began to speak its own language.

picture courtesy-Ecostone
picture courtesy-Ecostone
picture courtesy Ecostone
picture courtesy Ecostone

Picture courtesy-Ecostone

 

Inert Satisfaction came when my walls became a narrative—and that became my strongest asset.

“some clients had  travel experiences that could be read in family pictures,  businessmen with success stories that could be seen on certificates/awards, families had art pieces made by children, poems and narratives written by elderlies, and big boys had a collection of signatures/autographs/ pictures of celebrities, enthusiasts had travel artifacts for display, house women  had carpets and shawls with embroidery and they become showpieces on my walls”

working of a wall
working of a wall

… something that people could hold onto and talk about. And I thus created a non-disposable and an undisputed design.

 

picture courtesy- various walls
Picture courtesy- various walls

Slowly my walls were not hiding imperfections or simply providing a decorative finish they answered a lot to my clients. My clients with their own set of queries-

  • Whether they wanted easy-to-install cladding that can be changed in a few years, or something more permanent that could be more complicated to install?
  • Is low-maintenance an important consideration?
  • Were they looking for wall cladding that will hide imperfections
  • is it for a cladding that will provide a decorative finish
  • Or will they want a feature wall that narrates.

My search for suppliers and installers & my quest for new materials make me visit exhibitions, do meetings & check sites where they are used. I welcome both the suppliers to talk about their product and the user to discuss his/her experience. If you want to introduce your product kindly post in comment section

Is it a bother/ pain/ hassle to get wooddecks repaired again & again?

worn deckThere was this cool gust of wind tousling my hair; I look up to this craziness of nature: What?? Ahmm!! Spring has arrived; I see the swaying of trees and I follow the rain soaked dance of the leaves. Those red almost yellowish golden leaves floating in the air, Swirling in the cool breeze, turning and then falling just near my feet. I look down much captured in the breath- taking magical experience, However, the wear and tear, of the deck takes my attention and  I ask my friend with whom  I am drinking tea  -what pushes him  not to repair this beauty?

 

can-stock-photo_csp28487942

What I heard from him is what I hear all the time-

It’s a pain. It’s a bother. It’s a hassle.
Please I can’t be bothered to get this deck repaired & polished- again& again.

 

Ahhaa!! if you are a literary reader you will associate that phrases 1-3 are expressions of how one feel’s about getting the deck repaired, whereas phrase 4  is actually a refusal.

 

 Now what Can I do??? At this alarming, bloodcurdling, creepy, frightening, horrifying, petrifying, scary, shocking, spine-chilling, startling, terrifying, thrilling thought line!!!
Now what Can I do??? At this alarming,  horrifying, petrifying,  shocking, startling, terrifying, thought line!!!

What’s even more alarming is that the majority of people don’t even know, what they’re supposed to be doing to take care of their wood – like cleaning & sealing it once in a while. Many deck owners like my dear friend believe that the wood used on their decks does not need added protection, only to find out too late that this is a costly assumption and then blame the wood supplier for repair.

 

Some even wail, groan, howl, complaint(seems I am short of expressions) that  they were fooled into buying unseasoned deck wood. I will deal with this in later topics, it will be an eye opener in itself for all those interested.

repeating words
As of now I  will stick to what wood deck owners need to do,   I will risk sounding like a broken record…. but for them  I would like to  repeat, Wood of any type and all kinds – redwood, cedar, pine, ipe, cypress, mahogany, and more used on Decks, fences, etc. are turning grey and rotting away.

grey deck

The general greying of the decking which I hear from my complaining clients is usually the result of surface wood cells that have been broken down by UV radiation.  Ultraviolet radiation from the sun discolors wood and breaks down its lignin, the natural glue that holds the fibers together causing greying and surface erosion.

You’ll first notice discoloration in the wood  which eventually gives way to a “washed out” or grey color. What’s the real cause? Neglect ofcourse!

 

 

Before the advent of modern preservatives and synthetics, linseed oil was commonly used as a stand-alone preservative for wood, natural (hemp) rope, masonry, as a conditioner for natural boar’s hair paint brushes, and as an additive for oil paints. It was also valuable inside as a furniture finish and for wood floors. As if that wasn’t enough, it is used in soaps, inks, and in the production of linoleum!

But with modern times it was realized that coating decks with either straight linseed oil, boiled or raw, has its set of problems.

  • A client of mine got his newly installed deck  a final coating of linseed oil in rainy season and  it was so sticky that it  took forever to dry. Ughh… it’s a nightmare situation that happens too often when thick linseed oil is applied either (1) too thickly, (2) onto damp materials or (3) when the temperature is too cold.
  • So removing it was the only option. He found that the two coats of linseed oil were gummy and difficult to remove fully for refinishing.
  • Next season end he got linseed oil coating done after thinning it with turpentine. Helped somewhat, but multiple coats were required and each coat had to be left to dry before applying the next. And to top it he found it was not resistant to abrasions.

Like many it made my client realize that Linseed oil was really not a suitable deck floor preservative. I would second it- at least by today’s standards!!

All that was required or is required is a protection layer that is best suited to the lumber used to build that deck. Commercial sealants (some of which contain linseed or other drying oils) outperform “natural” linseed oil.  And since these products tend to be relatively pricey, the buyer must weigh cost against durability and long useful life.

 

shimla grand hotel Wood that is properly cared will last more than 20 years! Wood decks should be thoroughly cleaned annually, and should be refinished as soon as the color starts to fade

 

As  I read out this article in an inaugural opening of a commercial project of mine,  I heard some whispering from the guests- What about the advent of wood substitutes?  I smiled and  I realized how deep the Composite decking has entered the market.. Some of these  brands  will  give a proud  “10-year warranty”  but with all due respect that  to me sends off warning bells and whistles. Doesn’t it ???what after ten years-??? Replacement is the only answer-  Some of the products are too new for its longevity to have been accurately evaluated yet. But regardless, it is  recommended to carefully read manufacturers’ labels before buying and installing and to ensure that the products have been tested.

I welcome both the suppliers to talk about polish/sealent to be applied and the user to let us all know his experience