We bring forward our views on how Nagpur as a city can bloom on an Urban level.
Here are 6 thoughts that should ponder every architect mind in Nagpur :
1. Nagpur is a city steeped in rich design history with important lessons to teach us. What are some of the learnings we can take from the past that can be applied to today’s projects?
Learning from the past – lessons in what to do and what not to do when designing a project.
-At a city-level If we look at the history and geography of Nagpur you’ll find that the Gond- Wana area is cradled between the Vindhya and the Satpura ranges and mostly consisted of Tribal population who sustained themselves without the destruction of forests’ natural resources.
-We can see that the city is dotted by almost 11 big and small lakes and interspersed with large parcels of forest and open lands like the seminary hills, the fort area, and the pkv areas.
– This has led to a development that is high in density between these large tracts of green and open spaces. If we see the old mahal area developed by the bhonsles we find the Sukkarwari talao as a buffer zone right up till the sitabuldi fort to be intercepted later by the railway tracks built by the British.
– We think this is a key learning which modern day urban designers can take to optimize land and resource utilization as well as have large open oxygen banks between densely designed communities. Unlike the Besa area for example.
-Similarly coming to buildings of the British era, being the capital of CP and Berar what inspires me is the scale. We can notice early British structures on palm road where the buildings are surrounded by a landscaped area around it. This helps us appreciate the architecture as one enters the premises, this concept should be applied as nowadays, good structures are not given enough foreground to be appreciated and hence people fail to understand the beauty of architecture.
2. How do you strike a balance between traditional & tested design
practices and the need for innovation & modernisation? What are some pitfalls to
An architect needs to understand the balance as there are always some elements from traditional architectural styles which need to be incorporated in our modern styles. Care needs to be taken to not go overboard with the traditional elements or the modern aesthetics would clash with the traditional elements
~Change is the name of the game and without innovation our industry wouldn’t have thrived. So yes innovation is required along with Staying true to our tested design methodology, simultaneously working on innovations and developments leads to a successful architecture design.
~See stone brick, steel and concrete, we know how they work, how they react to various climatic conditions, and what outcomes and emotions they bring out to the final design. So these we have already tested and know. But with these same materials these days small and incremental innovations are being made possible with the advancements in technology, like for eg. polymer textile concrete, wish has huge possibilities, right from creating Flexi lamps to the lining of canals to roads and vaults too.
~Another innovation. bamboo as a tensile element is a natural element combined with concrete to optimize cost and increase durability.
~Innovations cannot be limited to buildings, it can be applied to recreating a green environment from barren lands, by a simple technology of digging pits to hold rainwater.
~It’s not necessary that we use new materials to create bigger,, thinner(to get max floorplate) or stronger to create megastructures! Innovations are also possible with basic materials and use of technology to discover new methods to add in to the aesthetics. Because a lot of times these big shifts in innovations cost a lot too, so I’d prefer small innovations in the use of materials and applying it in a modern way to create stunning designs appealing to the heart of the modern-day client.
3. We have seen a shift away from contextual and locally-relevant designs. What is your take on this? How important is it to align a project to its local context and purpose?
~This is very imp these days, because if you visit any downtown of any of the urban metropolitan cities, they have lost their uniqueness, their peculiarity behind materials like concrete, glass, and steel. Irrespective of climatic conditions, mega architecture firms follow standard global methodology and avoid the use of local materials which leads to decline in our country’s economy also. But obviously the context needs to be taken into account. We do need to come back to the usage of local materials, because even if these buildings look the same they have to use local materials especially in time like this pandemic where it becomes diff to import say carrara marble from italy.
~Also because though we feel that the world has become glocal, with the kind of exposures people have humans still relate more to earthy material palette and neutral color themes . Steel, glass,concrete are manufactured products whereas natural stones, sandstone, terracota are products of the earth itself, the locals are more familiar with the history and geographical conditions of their hometown hence its easy to get them to maintain and respect structures made of local materials.
~Local architects who are sensitive to the local conditions design more of these buildings to get the pulse of the regional flavour, fuse it with modern designs and come up with unique solutions.
4. There was already a growing focus on wellness in design, pre-COVID, which has only increased with the pandemic. What are the changes you are witnessing in terms of the adoption of health & well-being features?
Post- COVID life has altered many aspects of our day to day lives.~Offices had to rethink their interiors according to social distancing norms.
~Public entertainment sector is still yet to come up with post covid changes. Theaters, malls and markets have to consider people’s safety and proper distancing.
~After the lockdown many people have inclined towards a healthier active lifestyle and hence there’s a growing need for well-planned gardens and fitness parks or cycle trails to cater to the post covid crowd
INCORPORATING LIVE OXYGEN BANKS as i call them INTO the PEOPLE’S LIVES.
~We also foresee a huge shift( a conscious one at that) of reverse migration of the young urban population where in couples or families tend to spend their weeks working from home in their country side farms or villas(thanks to the all-pervading internet) and return on weekends to replenish their social needs by having a smaller urban weekend house for enjoying weekend life and entertaining friends.
~This way they are able to strike a balance of living a healthy life close to nature with sustainable lifestyles, which promotes mental and physical health.
~10 years down the line a big urban house would no longer be a symbol of status and security as people would seek more mobility and mobile homes would be a trend.
5. What are some of the recent technological advances in the field that strike you as game-changers when it comes to solving current design challenges?
We think the recent technological advances have been a huge gamechanger.
~The science of building is a fascinating subject and unless the resulting edifice evokes an emotion of some kind, it cannot be considered as a work of art.
~We feel we all know the power of Revit for a very long time now and the kind of computation and coordination it can do to contribute in designing smart buildings by integrating designs with structural and service elements like HVAC and electrical and also estimation which leads to financial analysis pre-determined before construction leading to gaining client trust and satisfaction.
~ This is becoming a huge advantage even in designing small projects where all these factors can be taken into account at the beginning itself.
~Software advancement in architecture now enables designers to incorporate new geometries into building aesthetics.
~Grasshopper for eg is fantastic software and allows computing architecture and coding architecture in a precise manner Now this is a major advancement as we generally tend to assume that parametrics are flowy and non orthogonal structures like the ones designed by Zaha hadid but parametrics are really the parameters which you can apply to the designing of the buildings, basically elements that repeat and you can actually code site elements into your design.
~Say Example; We can use a floor plan and twist it by say 10 degrees at every floor to take advantage of the views from different levels, or create massing in the elevation of the building varying the fenestrations and louvres according to the sun path diagram to create an interesting form.
~So this way we can really code in and it can help us to design smarter and more intelligent buildings and bring out more design ideas and imagination into this world to its full potential.
6. What role can architects play in rewriting the design narrative for a more habitable future?
~Architects play a major major role in making our environment, making it more habitable, there are architects who build buildings and there are architects who work with the environment, allowing for social, economic and political changes in the society to come up with smart innovative solutions to cater the needs of residents. And contribute substantially to our habitat’s future. After all we have only one earth,and our primary job is to not fight with the earth but rather build with the earth. It’s important for us architects to work with and for climate changes. Work with changes in temperatures, in sea levels,and ground composition .
~Actually Habitat itself is a little confusing to a certain extent right? Habitat for whom?
Humans residing in houses or offices? What about animals? Their habitats? What about plants and their habitat? In this modern day and age habitat has become just an airconditioned room (with wifi
~ We can always have passive design strategies that are energy efficient and can shape the
future of a habitable environment. We all know IT WASN’T always like that. With so much innovation coming up in passive design and with our large tradition of old design practices in India we have always focused on passive design technologies we need to focus not only on regulating body temperature but also how to work with the environment and also to work for it, with out of the box visionary strategies.
~Example- Sadgurus idea of planting fruiting trees along the river beds to prevent soil erosion, recharge ground water, but also dramatically change our society from the back breaking agrarian community to develop into a fruitarian community. This way they can contribute more intellectually in the building of our nation too.
~Habitat has a different meaning for every individual. It’s a mental concept as well. What makes a human mentally active mentally healthy, (and especially with covid everybody is stuck to their screens just us right now,) so how do we have more time with nature, how do we have more time away from screen, so again at urban planning level we need to think how can we introduce spaces like more of parks, or lakes, (But this is also dependent on the outlook and decisions of the govt. and how they want to accomplish this with us,) is so very important.
Basically humans are part of nature, humans are an extension of nature so we have to work
with it, we actually do go back to it to rejuvenate ourselves. Everybody feels immense calm when they go to hill stations, forests, mountains and beaches. I’ve barely heard anyone who feels calm in the middle of a very busy city like Mumbai or New york. So we do crave nature in our lives, so the challenge is to bring it to us to some extent or work with what we already have in our surroundings and let that grow and flourish instead of trying to fight with it and try add more buildings and create more (quote unquote) habitable buildings which we see today. ThatWe feel is the real challenge.
~Development in technology and innovations will keep influencing habitats. Our Habits
influence our habitats. We feel that as we slowly move towards changing our habits and
mindsets, this mother earth is our biggest and the only habitat we have will be bound to