Sustainability: A Solution to Contemporary Problems

Kritika Juneja
By Ar. Kritika Juneja
Every era depicts its own style of architecture - affecting people’s lifestyle as well as the culture of that place. Traditional architecture was the result of a concentration of people in a location as the population was unevenly distributed and was concentrated more in areas where water was available. Today, technology has simplified construction techniques and material technology - giving us the flexibility to design. But sometimes, there is an urge to follow our culture and we start imitating it, especially in this part of the sub-continent that has a 1000-year-old rich culture. But we need to understand that imitating any piece of architecture is not going to solve the problems of a modern India that requires new solutions, while keeping tradition alive. On the other hand, we cannot follow the western architectural style blindly and equate it with modernisation. It reminds me of a phrase by Prof. S.M. Akhtar, “Architecture can never be imitated”.

Attaining SustainabilityAttaining Sustainability (source: www.iaacblog.com)

Every site has its own context, and we need to respect that. Cultural heritage is an irreplaceable part of a city, but no city can be conserved, irrespective of how valuable the city fabric is, as new functions and therefore new architecture will appear. What we need to preserve is our culture in the midst of our modern architecture.

Sustainability as an approach to holistic building design
Green Construction in IndiaGreen Construction in India (source: ecoideaz.com)
“A building is not a mass of brick and concrete but a living organism that breathes.” Various terms have been coined from time to time like organic architecture, green architecture, and eco-sensitive architecture - all of which follow holistic principles for designing a sustainable environment.

By following the holistic principles of sustainable designing with eco-friendly materials we can provide a healing environment to the user, which will not only affect the physical, emotional, and mental state of the human body but also the spiritual state.

Sustainability can be achieved by managing the building from its construction stage to its maintenance, and up till its disposal, so simply placing solar panels on the roof, or taking a few other sustainability measures is not enough.

Today, we need to be in closer proximity with nature, just like the traditional buildings which were built in and around nature. However, we seem to be lost in the so-called perception of what urbanism is, ignoring the context the site offers.

Creating a balance between the open and built spacesCreating a balance between the open and built spaces (source: adelto.co.uk)

Spirituality as an approach towards a holistic building design

Curvaceous Brick HouseCurvaceous Brick House
Taking a spiritual approach in the design of buildings can enrich the lives of the people residing within them. Architects are not only responsiblefor providing the basic functions of a building but also for making it an entity that lasts and is remembered. Innovation in design does not compromise the basic necessities but seeks to create a building that incorporates all the necessities in a way that allows the user to interact with nature. Many of the master architects have achieved this by taking a holistic approach, including spiritual. It is also true that by discovering and formulating our higher self, we can become more innovative and unleash the creative potential within us. Once we are able to understand ourselves and our abilities, it will be much easier to channelize our energy. As an architect it is our basic responsibility to identify and react to the dream of our client and create something wonderful and which brings joy to the user.

“Nature is life and life is nature”. The worldwide ecological imbalance is the outcome of our destruction of nature. The desire for modernisation is leading us towards a robotic future. We must understand that if our built environment responds positively to nature, we will feel peaceful. To achieve this mental, physical, and spiritual harmony, architects need to take a holistic design approach – one that inculcates natural elements and materials – and which conserves the natural environ to the extent possible.