Architectural design is slowly being seen as a tool in developing products that add meaningful value to the lives of people. Although this is just the start, more and more businesses and small enterprises are looking at design as a whole process than just a tactical tool.
Investing in research and strategic design faculties is a growing trend in the Indian architecture design industry. It uses Indian sensibilities and socio-cultural trends, and incorporates them into its process in a smart and acceptable way. It is also about having fun while creating the most cutting-edge designs.
Nearly 30 percent of India’s population lives in urban areas. This population is estimated to increase to 50 percent in the next 15 years. It is impossible to solve the problem of sustainable architecture without addressing the issue of urban living.
The growing urban population with its changing lifestyle is straining the supply of natural resources. Today, what is crucial is finding appropriate sustainable urban, industrial and rural models for the Indian subcontinent – not something imported from the industrialised nations, not exclusively dependent on globalization but those that render themselves suitable for local lifestyles – sustainable, socially and buildings does not always lead to high energy costs, if properly designed.
Much depends on how the building is oriented, that is, what facade of the building uses glass. To conserve energy, too much glass should not be placed on the west facade, especially in hot places. It’s the west face that gets more of the hot sun. This indicates that one has to study the weather in a region to decide which facade of the building should have glass.
Master plans for the cities must be master plans for the environment, with all the material requirements as a subset of the larger environmental vision. Architects, designers, urbanites and planners need to engage in order to institute a stance to consolidate the position as global Indians today. Thoughts, methodologies, and processes need to be exchanged and discussed to generate a vision for cities.
EFFECTIVE USE OF GLASS
There have been instances of not-so-wellplanned glass buildings that end up consuming high electricity for air conditioning, as often the glass lets in too much heat. Contrary to this use of glass in the south facade, new types of architectural glasses like lowheat glass panels (glass panels that reflect most of the heat back and provide maximum light inside) and sandwich panels which have double-insulated glass windows to cut out the heat as well as sound should be used.
In fact, glass panels are more efficient than the traditional bricks and make for a good building product.
Besides becoming more energy-efficient, there is plenty of scope to tap renewable sources such as solar energy. But a small caveat – the cost effectiveness of this will depend on the kind of building and open space available. For instance, in a large spaced-out place, there will be enough land to place the solar panels. The more space for putting in solar panels, the higher one can save on conventional energy consumption. So, with enough space, one can save 30-40 percent of energy consumption.
On the contrary, if you are looking at say a 50-60 storeyed building built on about one acre in a metropolitan city, the free area after providing for other amenities such as parking is limited. In that case, only the rooftop is left. But the rooftop does not provide enough space to lay sufficient solar panels to serve a large building. That means the panels may generate only twofive percent of the building’s energy requirement.
That said, rooftops are ideal for smaller buildings or apartments with 3-5 storeys.
ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY
There is a need to extend the technological understanding of sustainable architecture to incorporate the socio-cultural aspects in production of properties. Technology is thus seen as the only means of addressing environmental degradation. Technology-dependent green buildings have contributed in raising awareness and stimulating debate about sustainable architecture. Sustainable architecture in India needs to account for the changing social and environmental conditions because rapid population growth, modernisation and urbanisation have directly impacted the environment.
Alok Kumar Upadhayay
Real Estate Professional