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From WHOLE to PARTSBy Architects' Studio
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“In great cities, spaces as well as places are designed and built: walking, witnessing, being in public, are as much part of the design and purpose as is being inside to eat, sleep, make shoes or music. The word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship -- around participation in public life.”
“Urbanism works when it creates a journey as desirable as the destination.”
People inhabit spaces and engage with their surroundings in complex ways which go beyond physical aspects and vary depending on age, sex, social class, race, religion, economic status and even general outlook. Can these too be designed?
Actually, we as humanity have always been designing these consciously or unconsciously. The ancient cities & towns were self-sufficient and buzzing with neighborhood sprit and togetherness. Streets were full of children playing without fear, ladies chit-chatting when the men have gone to work. But the current explosion in population and increasing pressure to habitable land has given opportunity to the developers & decision makers to build and plan the same neighborhood. We architects are challenged to mimic this slow natural process in the best way possible. As Leon Krier, The Architecture of Community has said that “A city is not an accident but the result of coherent visions and aims.”
Before we intiate – the exisiting site conditions have to be identified and recorded which can be physical, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental. An architect has to imbibe everything seemingly simple like the path of the sun, the wind direction or any topographical feature to complex briefs like aspirations of the target community and lifestyle habits which have to be encouraged.
The first physical indicator for development is the Open - Build ratio which is implemented by the FAR and Height restrictions. These are derived from the Bye Laws which are published by local building authorities. Permutations varying from low rise villa community to high rise apartment towers are created as a result of these.
Today one of the most important technical aspects of building management are the Services. It’s way more than the plumbing pipes and electrical wires – but now about ventilation, waste managament, single point control of electrical and HVAC systems, security alarms and measures, minimising water wastage, sustainable features, earthquake resistant structural design and the list goes on. Nowadays, residents are more aware of how well their building is managed or how “SMART” it is!
Like always the market forces come into play and rather strongly here. The stakeholders are namely the Developer, the Architect, the Contractor and the Target Customer/Resident. The intent is to go beyond merely satisfying the needs of the end user and giving them features more than a typical development. The architect works around a brief defined by the developer while integrating basic functionality and planning fo spaces. Options are tested through conceptual views and master plans where all all come up with their own suggestions – and thus community vision takes shape.
Whole community - neighborhood building and success depends to a great extent on the Architect’s vision and imagination. The architect has to literally envision the aspirations and shortcomings of the future making the development future-ready. However, there is no magic formula or Eureka Element, the design grows organically and thus becomes “a process”.
Architects’ Studio is currently working on a township development exercise, wherein 35 residential units, penthouses with podium style living have to be achieved in a rather irregularly shaped site. Some glimpses of the concepts are below and on the top of the page for reference.
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