Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Candle, originally uploaded by Soumya, the amateur.


The vertical spread – curse and cure

Much like democracy, architecture today stands on its own pillars. From the very beginning of
this profession it has been clearly visible that architecture has immense power to affect and
contribute to the quality of life and standard of living, and be posed as a medium to exhibit the
richness and theme of a place’s culture. In the present context of this article, we will be mostly
interested in the former aspect of architecture, considering architecture to act as one of the
primordial component of human life –Makan from Roti, Kapra, Makan.

Measure of urban lifestyle; quality or quantity?

“If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”
~ The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Urban lifestyle in India is changing every day and is drastically adapting a new set of values,
ideologies and beliefs. Whether or not this change will be for good, bad or ugly is yet to be
perceived, but that this change is going beyond our control is becoming evident day by day.
Architects are designing to offer a better lifestyle to the citizens; they are working to improve
their standard of living. Indeed they are, working for the people. But beyond that it is time to
consider revising our needs and requirements in the context of the ever-evolving lifestyle of the
ever-growing urban India.

It is indeed the age of no compromise, where people are always craving for more, hardly being
satisfied with what they have. We are doing more in quantity rather in quality. We have
increased our per capita income and along with that have increased the tremendous amount of
corruption and black money business. We are considering problems presented in advertisements
and accepting the solutions presented in the market. We, in most cases are unaware of ‘whether
we really need this’. We are taking more tests than our fathers, more pills than our grandfathers,
working more than we should, and earning more than we can spend. And the more we are
earning the more we are wasting and thus trying to believe that we are progressing to a better
quality of life.

But are we?

We are doing more than we should, and we have no concern about this ‘should’. The high rise
phenomenon is no exception. We are stacking boxes one over the other, extruding as much as we
can and saying that this is an expression of wealth and status – we are touching the sky thus
making an Antilia with a good view of Dharavi. The contrast is tragic and shameful to look at if
we are aspiring to be architects who are by the people, for the people.

Even if we don’t consider the gigantic differences between the slum dogs and the millionaires,
what about the aam-admi? Our new BHK apartments are not enough room for our retired
parents, but we have allocated rooms for 24 hours servants. The problems may be socioeconomic,
but are we architects devoid of social responsibilities? Are we solely concerned to
satisfy the realtor and not consider the fundamental functional requirements of Indian families?
Just because we can stack rooms over rooms shall we not consider that, shall we? Will architects
define the needs of habitants or should they provide for them if they are to design a better life for
the people? The answer is obvious but the implications are not.

The most cited reason for the high rise phenomenon is the rapidly increasing population density
with the urban incapability of horizontal spread. The FSI system allows us to repeat a floor plan
throughout the z-axis and elevators provide the means of communication. Thus we can house
more number of people on the same amount of land. This technological breakthrough has indeed
helped in handling the population burst to a certain extent.

It seems that verticality is unlimited – we believe that with improved standards of safety norms,
more efficient fire protection systems, reliable resistance against earthquake threats, we can
eventually grow as high as we wish. But we need to remember that natural resources are very
limited. The most directly affected resource is the ground water whose level is decreasing rapidly
in the metropolitan cities all over the country. This is because; over the same amount of land we
have more demand of resources as we have grown vertically. Further, the more we grow up the
total energy required increases too. Moreover in most mass housing designs, the advantage of
cross ventilation is sacrificed and it overloading the artificial air conditioning requirements
affects the ecological health of our Earth. Such problems are mostly absent in
horizontal spread.

The verdict: As architects or would-be architects we should research and choose an optimized
magnitude of vertical spread considering the social impacts, the energy requirements and the
resource sharing proportions irrespective of technical limits. We should answer the needs of the
people not of the realtor.

I wrote this essay for an essay competition under the theme of - " Architecture for the people, by the people, from the 
people" and sub-theme " The vertical curse- telltale of the high rise phenomenon" 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

minimalist again

its not my problem.. i don't think so...its my prospect..can't stick to one style for long....back to the minimalist look...white text...simple, humble...
one good news.. wrote a poem ... i think its been a year or so since my last poetry....will publish very soon...