Architecture Beyond Buildings

Stephen Roberts
Stephen Roberts, Chairman – Bentel Associates
Darwin's theory of evolution states that mankind evolved from animal and in this long process, he altered his environment to suit his needs. As he evolved his needs grew and he created surroundings to his liking taking into consideration his comforts and requirements. He designed and planned his environment as per his convenience. This reasoning is the basis for evolution of not just mankind but Architecture as well.Over the period this desire to change has also become the reason for creation and destruction of certain civilizations.

History of Architecture traces changes in this area through various traditions, religions, over reaching systolic trends and dates. The building has become representation of class, status, style etc and is now overruling the very basis from where it began.

Often Architecture is read and practiced as a science of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience to reflect functional, technical, social, environmental and aesthetic considerations. However looking at the evolution of architecture it is evident that architecture is beyond science. An Architect needs to think beyond buildings. Our vision needs to be not only wider and global but also touch human emotions. Architecture is the one fine thread that interlinks society, environment and economy thus affecting lives of people across social strata.

DB Mall Bhopal

Hence the built form design needs to be realized under the following conditions:
  • Integrating the cultural, social, economic and political system in and around the city.
  • Emotional need of the user along with the functional requirement
  • Respect for the nature that accommodates our requirements and allows the design to bloom into its real form

Challenges of Economy

Since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, the practice of architecture has been severely altered not just in India but globally. Economic experts believe that our economy and society have undergone fundamental changes that began decades ago. It will be a very long time before we see vibrant economic growth and it is unlikely that the design and construction industries will return to the same conditions that existed prior to 2008.

Mantri Square Bangalore

The environment in which Architects operate has changed, bringing opportunities to firms that can adapt to the new realities. Now, buildings need to be designed with optimized parameters. Respecting the value of land or space has become more crucial than ever. Creating right environment for purpose has become more critical. In fact this was the fundamental on which Architecture had evolved. It was influenced over a period of time by social status of the country, business unit or an individual.

Post-depression when space became more expensive, designing in limited space became the need of the hour. Architects looked at expanding vertically instead of horizontally. This was easier said than done as in retail it is difficult to hold the shoppers' interest beyond first 2 floors. But this handicap was overcome as the last floor was converted to food and entertainment zone hence attracting the customers to travel upwards.

The lack of space has necessitated the need to go vertical for all types of constructions – residential, retail and commercial. The value of land has increased exponentially. At the same time, environmental awareness and the need for green spaces have also grown. Hence Architects have found mid-way by increasing the height of the built mass. This trend is not restricted to metros like Mumbai. The Green City of Bangalore has also recognized this need and incorporated it in its planning. Some of the retail centers designed by Bentel Associates in these cities reflect this new ideology. For example: Oberoi Mall in Mumbai. The defining feature of the mall is its 100 meter long atrium which has been strategically designed to allow shoppers an uninterrupted view of every store in the mall. The atrium configuration maximizes the leasable retail footprint on the ground floor and then progressively steps back through the height of the building to give the appearance of a cavernous volume and enhance the wow-factor necessary to attract discerning shoppers. Another example of vertical retail center is Mantri Square, Bangalore.

Thane One, Mumbai

Tier II cities are also facing this issue. DB Mall in Bhopal has also been designed within area constraints but has made optimum utilization of available space.

The residential constructions being designed have to also look at restriction of space. This has led to a shift in perception as well. More and more families are now opting for apartments instead of standalone villas. These apartments are being developed vertically to manage lack of space and to incorporate green spaces around the built area. Prozone Coimbatore has followed this methodology.

Designing for diverse social needs

While designing an apartment, shopping center or any social infrastructure, basic human need is to be served foremost.

In our day to day life we are surrounded by diverse set of people. Is there enough space created to fit these people? Have we created an integrated system to cater to all? Have we touched their emotional values?

The transformation from an industrial to a post industrial society has brought with it new social constellations with greater emphasis upon services and intangible things making culture from being a mere 'soft' into a 'hard' factor. At the same time, family and reproduction patterns have changed with more women preferring to work rather than stay at home. Even though social structure varies throughout our country due to diversified cultural forms, certainly the concern about the family as core social unit has intensified with shifts in demographic structures which is reflected in more ageing population with less and less newborns. We see the dependency on social infrastructure to care for the aging as well as for children. Professional care homes, services apartments and child care units need to be part of every infrastructure whether homes or workplaces.

The progress in this development is present in most of the western countries and few Indian metros like Bangalore and Delhi.This interest needs to be more strengthened across the country and integrated in existing system.

European countries have addressed the needs of the aged population in their infrastructure development. They encourage construction and expansion of age-appropriate infrastructure and care in the residential environment (mobility, shopping, and sport and recreation opportunities). They also emphasize on design of public meeting space (neighborhood meeting spaces, municipal meeting spaces, etc.), linkage of support networks and promotion of voluntary engagement.

Census 2001 has revealed that over 26 million people in India are suffering from some kind of disability. This is equivalent to 2.15% of our population. This is a factor which cannot be ignored or overlooked. Architects should create a space which allows every individual to move freely, work independently, and a space which provides security and comfort. While developers should ensure provision of such needs, the political systems should also make this mandate in the socio economic system.

Majority of people with special needs want to remain in a familiar environment and live as independently as possible – even in the case where they need assistance and care. As older people spend more time in their homes with increasing age and health limitations, the age appropriateness (location, furnishing) of the living situation and appropriate design of the residential environment are the key to maintaining independence and quality of life.

In the end, it is the responsibility of the Architects to consciously realize this dream of a million people. Whether it is use of ramps in building access points/ public spaces or use of textured surfaces to free the movement for visually impaired, the primary focus should not be to make the user conscious of his/ her inability. It should create a public infrastructure which is accessible to every individual irrespective of their age, health or gender.

The urban infrastructure should also support this need by ensuring that there are easily navigable roads and alternate ways for all. The city of Singapore which has a high density of population has been successful in implementing a strong friendly and supportive system. Unfortunately India has not been able to develop the infrastructure to facilitate easy movement for all. There are many reasons for this lack such as hawkers on pavements, lack of space, resources or designing capacity.

Green Designs

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed." - Mahatma Gandhi

We have been using various elements of nature for our use such as soil, wood, light or air. Sometimes it is to fulfill not the basic needs, but our desire for more. However we forget to give back to the nature who gives us so much. This thinking should be part of our life, it should be inculcated in our day-to-day activities. This would translate into architecture too as every built form uses the nature for its creation.

Oberoi Mall, Mumbai

Serve, preserve and conserve should be the motto of all built forms. Only these principles can allow us to sustain nature and as well as humans.

One of Bentel's upcoming projects in the suburb of Mumbai, Thane One is targeted to achieve a platinum rating in LEED, the rating system based on the following factors:
  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency or water conservation
  • Energy optimization or minimize non-renewable energy consumption
  • Indoor environment quality
  • Daylight/ night and sky pollution
  • Materials and resources or use of environmental-friendly products
Architecture or most of it anyway, is a public good: what any one person or institution builds, others must live with, and often for a very long time. An architectural marvel is etched in history and has far many consequences over a course of time. The faculty of architecture has evolved in a very interesting and multi-dimensional way. Gone are the days when architecture was merely about designing buildings, it has now all to do with crafting desires, inspiring cultures, creating aspirations and influencing lifestyles.
Click Here
To Know More / Contact The Manufacturer
Please provide your details we will contact you as soon as possible
Please let us know your name.
Invalid Input
Please let us know your Designation.
Invalid Input
Please let us know your City.
Please let us know your State.
Please let us know your Country.
Please let us know your Contact Number.
Please let us know your email address.
Please brief your query.

Making Factories Safe

Making Factories Safe Breakdowns in manufacturing plants lead to loss of production and optimum performance of the machineries. Factory/plant architects and designers must take a knowledgeable approach towards possible reasons of breakdowns Read More ...

Stainless steel is fulfilling the need for building eco-friendly environments

With the advancements in material technology, contemporary substitutes like stainless steel have surfaced that aim to fulfil all the modern-day requisites of the user, while having the least negative impact on the environment Read More ...

Fibre Cement Boards are emerging as a popular interior-exterior panel system

Fibre cement boards (FCB) have been making waves in the infrastructure industry with their aesthetic appeal of wood and the durability of fibre cement. They are being considered the newest alternative with their unique characteristics Read More ...

Aluminium: Revolutionizing Modern Architecture

Emergence of aluminium in the architecture industry has paved the way for its application in roofing, wall cladding, doors and windows, and in decorative creations, writes Pragun Jindal Khaitan MD, Jindal Aluminium Limited Read More ...

Complexes in the High-Rise

One of the biggest questions that are raised in the construction industry is how rapid urbanization is shaping the face of Real Estate development in India. In order for us to not lose out on an opportunity to create a better future for the coming Read More ...

10 Trendy Building Materials for Interiors

Coco Tiles are made of coconut shells. The tiles come in intricate basket weave or scalloped designs. The backer panel is made of sustainably harvested wood and finished with low VOC-resin. The tiles are easily cut and installed using adhesive and nails Read More ...

50 Years of Protection

Marconite - an earthing solution that lasts more than 50 years with consistent performance during its life cycle, was introduced to the Indian Industry by Inter-Tech, an earthing solutions provider set up in 2011. The company has to its credit over 30,000 Read More ...

Inspiring Creativity

Competition is integral to the architectural industry; without competitions to spur creativity, there wouldn’t be an Acropolis in Athens. Platforms like Transparence are fuelled by the ‘power of an idea’. Besides providing a plethora Read More ...

Tata Bluescope COLORBOND® Steel Changing the Face of Infrastructure in India

More and more construction companies in the Public Sector space are opting for smart technologies, advanced building materials and modern construction methodologies Innovation and use of steel in infra development is also contributing Read More ...

Ar. Babika Goel looks at skylights and atriums

Mall Of India Atrium
Having become popular in large commercial spaces and public buildings, retractable roofs, skylights and pergolas are now finding buyers in the residential sector as well, as the concept catches the imagination of developers, and architects are being called upon to integrate Read More ...

Preserving Our Past for the Future - Historical Monuments & Heritage Sites

Preservation of Historical Buildings
A historic site or heritage site is an official location where pieces of political, military, cultural, or social history have been preserved due to their cultural heritage value. Historic sites are usually protected by law, and many have been recognized with the official national Read More ...

Security by Design

Safety is an attitude that supports prevention and advocates readiness to deal with possible crisis. Rising anti-social incidences and natural calamities are forcing a growing consideration of inculcating security and safety measures at the design development stage itself. Read More ...

Why Mixed Use Developments?

Mixed-use development is in a broad sense — any urban, suburban or village development, or even a single building, that blends a combination of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and Read More ...

Interchange Design for Seamless Travel

Seamless travel is an important characteristic of urban transport system. Transfer is an essential part of multi– modal trip and traveler has to change modes at transfer nodes. Multi–modal Transport System (MMTS) is an integrated approach to incorporate all Read More ...

Playing with Textures

Texture is the latest cool tool to introduce the element of interest. Materials are inspiring designers and architects to seriously consider texture even in the smallest of projects, simply by drawing attention to the variety everywhere you turn. Read More ...

Hot Demand for Hot Water!

Just like the 'Old Faithful', a natural geyser that shoots up hot water every 90 minutes or so in USA's Yellowstone National Park, the electrical geyser, which has now been rechristened to Water Heater, runs throughout the year irrespective of the season. Read More ...
MGS Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture
NBM&CW

New Building Material & Construction World

New Building Material & Construction World
L&ST

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Lifting & Specialized Transport
II&TW

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week