Got tired of living in a cramped house or apartment with none or very little greenery around and having no sense of openness? This might be the case, especially if you are living in a metro city. It is, however, time to bid goodbye to all your worries as a growing number of New Age developers like Ireo, Tata Housing, Lodha Group, Puri Constructions, Sobha Developers, Ashiana Housing, DB Realty, and 3C Company are now laying special emphasis on spacious and lush landscaping in some of their projects. And the reasons are not far to seek.
“Urban living in Indian cities has traditionally suffered from a lack of comprehensive master planning and insufficient attention to providing for greenery, parks, appropriate parking spaces, etc. A direct result of this is the unfortunate feeling of being cramped or boxed in, which most urban residents in traditional homes can readily identify with,” says a spokesperson of Ireo. Keeping this fact, as well as the increasing lifestyle expectations of Indian homebuyers in mind, some developers are now focusing on stunning landscapes in a bid to differentiate their offerings and also to add value to their projects.
Ireo claims its core philosophy has been focused on master planning living spaces that deliver a sense of space and openness for residents. “Along with planning space utilization, traffic infrastructure, aesthetics, leisure amenities, etc, greenery planning and landscaping are also a very important pillar of an open living philosophy, as they create a healthy, clean and aesthetically-pleasing ambience around our homes,” says the spokesperson.
One of Ireo’s latest projects is located in a beautiful location along the Gurgaon Faridabad Road, where it is flanked by the Aravali forested land on one side and overlooks the magnificent Delhi ridge on the other. The towers are claimed to be strategically orientated to minimize overlooking the others, so as to maximize outwards views. “At this project, the internal landscaping blends beautifully with the stunning external surroundings. It comprises manicured lawns, scenic pathways and a variety of water features and activity spaces that have been incorporated into a raised platform groundscape,” says the Ireo spokesperson.
Bangalore-based Sobha Developers is also known for laying special emphasis on beautiful landscaping in their projects. For instance, in one of their township projects in Kerala, Sobha Developers has got about 4.7 acres of land exclusively for play area and open greenery. Besides, they have a long jogging track all around the 6.5-acre lake and a walk way extending from the entrance all through their township.
The same is the case with Delhi-based Ashiana Housing, which has designed stunning landscapes even in its mid-income projects. Mumbai-based DB Realty also claims to have made available amenities which adhere to the highest standards of luxury living. “Our projects have made use of podium gardens which have been designed by international landscape designers. In a concrete jungle such as Mumbai, landscaping done in the form of open-air living spaces, fountains, etc, creates a favorable impression. Our projects, therefore, have aesthetically pleasing and functional home layouts. Innovative ways in architecture and landscaping are playing a key role in the planning and execution of our projects,” says Giampaolo Giardina, director (engineering and projects) at DB Realty.
Sometimes, landscaping is also a requirement under urban development norms. “As per urban development norms for grouphousing projects across the NCR, for example, 65-70% of the area is required to be left as open spaces and 30-35% area is allowed for coverage for managing the density. Generally, developers construct a project on 25-30% of the project area by utilizing the floor space index (FSI) available, and within the applicable height restrictions, thus leaving 70-75% of the area for landscaping,” says Rajiv Sahni, partner-real estate and hospitality practice, Ernst & Young.
Arjun Puri, director, Puri Constructions, which boasts of having stunning landscapes in their projects, agrees. Citing the case of Haryana, he says, “As maximum ground coverage permissible in any group housing project in Haryana is 35% of the total land area, the remaining 65% of land has to be left as open. However, how this 65% (can go up to 85% depending on project architecture) is treated is often the determining factor for the discerning buyers of apartments.”
A case in point is DLF Aralias where the apartments provided by DLF were only bare shell. However, as all the apartments looked onto a golf course, they are the most expensive in Gurgaon. Similarly, one of Puri Constructions’ projects in Faridabad is said to be one of the city’s most premium addresses, thanks to superlative landscapes created by Paul Friedberg, a world-renowned landscape architecture firm based in New York. Thus, with 65-80% of open area in a group housing project, “our focus is on adding maximum value to the property by creating stunning landscapes that completely transform the area. Unlike other developments, where landscapes are an afterthought with a few cursory plants added at the time of handing over possession, we start planning landscapes from the word go and start creating nurseries at the same time that we start the excavation for the project,” says Puri.
Experts say that cleaner, greener and health-oriented housings are generally the most sought-after by customers and, therefore, appreciated the most. Focus on landscapes is not just great for the environment, but also for the developers’ bottom lines and the customer’s evolving aspirations and needs. “The landscaping, as we see nowadays, is done in a manner that provides a good view to majority of the condominiums in the project. This improves saleability and command a premium through preferential location charges (PLC), which the buyers are happy to pay,” says Rajiv Sahni of Earnest & Young. Additional features like a lake or a golf course and a park add more value to a project, he says.
Beautiful landscaping, however, comes at a price. Particularly in big cities, where there is acute scarcity of land and land is also getting very costly day by day, providing spacious and beautiful landscaping can increase a project’s cost substantially. “A good landscape will cost the developer
an additional Rs 500 per sq ft, approximately,” says Puri, adding, “However,
the value addition that landscaping brings to a project is enormous and offsets the cost easily.” Barring exceptions, lush and stunning landscapes are rare in India. In fact, the trend of giving importance to landscapes has just begun in India.
“Comparatively, we are way behind countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand where condominium developments are rated on the quality of landscapes provided by a developer. There is a huge premium on those projects where the quality of landscapes is superior,” Arjun Puri says.
Some experts are of the view that this luxury of landscapes may not be available at many locations due to paucity and high cost of land, and hence other novel ‘green’ ways need to be thought through for the customers’ delight.
Source – TOI