Saturday, October 22, 2011

‘Varna’ – Colors

By Minakshi Jaiswal
Interior Designer & Sub-editor

Varna is a Sanskrit word for colors. Color can influence our emotions, our actions and how we respond to various people, things and ideas. Much has been studied and written about color and its impact on our daily lives. 

The Trinity of Primary Colors
There are three primary colors unfolded in the white light. These are Red, Yellow and Blue. These colors correspond with the three basic elements - hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. The three-fold power of the Primary Colors makes a direct energy contribution towards our physical, mental and spiritual development.

The Blue Ray (cooling) is assimilated by the spiritual center in the head. It awakens within knowledge of divinity. We WILL in blue - INTENTION. The Yellow Ray stimulates mental growth by way of the brain. We THINK in yellow - WISDOM. The Red Ray (thermal) provides sustenance for the physical body, gaining entrance by way of the breath. We FEEL in red - ACTIVITY.

Figure - Every Varna symbolize a meaning.
Color trends change every year, usually just a slight variation from the year before with a few new colors thrown in to add some excitement. The interior color trends for 2011 won’t be any different as we’ll see a lot of variations on colors trends from 2010 with a couple of surprises.

Grays will be a neutral color in 2011 used to balance deeper, more saturated and interesting color shades. Expect to see grays ranging from almost white to very dark and every shade in between, quite often with hints of blue and green. Gray hues will not only be used in paint and wall colors but will be very popular for furniture and fabrics in 2011.

Purples were the exciting accent color a couple years ago, now they’re moving into the mainstream and will be as common as blue was in the 1980s and 1990s. True purples will still be considered a bold move but lighter shades of violet; darkened mauve and raisin tones and bluer purple tones will be standard and very common in all interior decorating elements.

Speaking of blues, they’re making an interior decorating come back and in a big way. Turquoise and ice blue have been popular for a while but now a truer shade of blue is finding its way into home d├ęcor. Blue and white prints and plaids are very hot and can even be mixed together by skilled home decorators.

Greens are taking two opposite directions when it comes to interior decorating. Look for green that moves into an olive hue or even something that leans further into the browns. And then on the other end of the spectrum you’ll see greens that are heading into the teal shades. It’s almost impossible to get these colors to play well together so if you’re going to go green you’re going to have to pick.

Accent Colors - As mentioned before there are usually a couple new colors that are thrown into the mix to add an exciting element to interior decorating color schemes. A true purple has been the accent color for a few years and is continuing to be an attention getter. Yellow has always found its way into home decorating schemes but now you’re going to see a darker or richer yellow emerging as a sunny accent color. Pink has been popular for a while and will probably actually grow in its acceptance, especially very saturated pinks.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

REVIT Coffee Club

By Minakshi Jaiswal, Interior Architect

As Autodesk launched the latest version of ‘REVIT – Architecture’, we have been excited to work on Building Information Modeling, mainly as the software was developed keeping in mind how designers and architects work. Not surprising then that it is upgrading the work pattern of the industry. The software understands the process of creating a sketch, and through to making a full fledged detailed building “model” in the process Architects and Designers follow.  Design Atelier organized a workshop in collaboration with Autodesk authorized trainers, to upgrade the team to ‘REVIT – Architecture’ from the one time favorite ‘AutoCAD’. After many internal discussions and feedback from the team and Autodesk, the workshops continued for 45 days, the team accepting the new challenge, we are now revit Compliant! 

Over several cups of tea and coffee, the software slowly turned friendly from tricky and the concepts got stronger. Autodesk authorized trainers helped bring the team to running projects with this software. The team spirit and urge to learn was helped form the spirit of a club. After an excellent workshop and practice, team has begun to feel the comfort of REVIT. I am glad to share that a full fledged team is right now handling multiple projects with REVIT. And they are producing very fruitful and time bound results too. 

Over the final workshop days, the Revit TEAM, was surprised to find a big poster on the ground floor Conference door, that launched the ‘REVIT Coffee Club’. With its fuming coffee clipart in the middle of first two words, we are usually delighted to share, that its always great to be part of something new, and It’s always wonderful to learn something knew. One never knows where the Idea was born, nor when it became real and got implemented too. and but work sure is “FUN” now at Design Atelier’s new REVIT COFFEE CLUB.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


By Manjra Yadav, Architect

The globalization of architecture and design has brought about a insipid uniformity, even in countries that have had a plenteous architectural and cultural heritage. Typically, the traditional architecture of a country responded to its climatic conditions and cultural influences. Materials used were indigenous and easily available; and detailing took advantage of skilled local craftspeople. 

Large countries like India have fairly diverse climates and cultures across the regions, and hence have a varied architecture as well. At times even within a region, the local architecture may have absorbed different cultural influences through the centuries. Varanasi, as an example, has a very Indian architectural imagery for most of the areas adjoining the river, but the main town has a very colonial look. In Goa, influence of Portuguese has created a new 'traditional' architecture that has almost blotted out the vernacular style that existed before it. 

Unfortunately, today our towns, which originally had their own interesting identity, are now almost identical to each other. In an effort to create an interesting architecture, architects are taking up elements, often from distant lands. Therefore we have Roman, Greek, Mediterranean and Spanish facades that speak of a neo-colonialisation of India--something we fought to rid ourselves of more than 50 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, in India we do not consciously adopt a western style in order to identify with the west. We use it because we have failed to recognize our own architectural vocabulary, a style of architecture that can easily match the grandeur of the Romans, the classical symmetry of the Greeks, the stark simplicity of the Mediterranean. We seem to have forgotten our past; the architecture Rajasthan, Agra, Old Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Mandu, Kerela and so on. We have a wealth of architecture in India.

There is enough richness in our traditional architecture to inspire us and, combined with today's materials and technologies, conceive a true fusion of past with present; the contemporary--supported by new technology and well engineered materials--with the charm and high craft quality of the traditional.

Before one embarks on a quest for an effective fusion of design, one must be able to recognize the essence and soul of a traditional architecture. In many parts of the world, architects are working with this fusion in order to save their heritage. We need to do this in India as well.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Architecture of India

The architecture of India has been as magnificent as its history, culture and religion. The shades of many outer influences can be felt in Indian architecture because of the country's discourse with other regions of the world throughout its history. Established building traditions of India and outside cultural interactions impacts the architectural methods practiced in India.

Indus Valley civilization (7000 BCE-1500 BCE) possessed a flourishing urban architecture. The residential buildings were mainly brick and consisted of an open patio flanked by rooms. Private bathrooms, were found in nearly all the houses of the Indus Valley Civilization. The residential buildings were also serviceable enough. The major cities associated with Indus Valley civilization, including Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, and Kalibangan, were laid out on a grid pattern and had provisions for an advanced drainage system.

During 1500 BCE-200 CE, multi-storied buildings which consistently used arched windows and doors were common in walled and moated cities with large gates.  Fortified cities with stupas, viharas, and temples were constructed during the Maurya empire. Wooden architecture was popular and rock cut architecture became solidified. Temples were build on elliptical, circular, quadrilateral, or apsidal plan using brick and timber during this period.

During early common era (200 CE—1200 CE), Universities flourished at Nalanda and Valabhi. These universities had housing capacity for thousands of teachers and students. Visible as a distinct tradition during the 7th century, South Indian temple architecture consisted essentially of a square-chambered sanctuary topped by a superstructure, tower, or spire and an attached pillared porch or hall, enclosed by a peristyle of cells within a rectangular court. Adhering to the shikhara temple style architectur, richly decorated temples including the complex at Khajuraho were constructed in Central India. North Indian temples displayed increased elevation of the wall and elaborate spire by the 10th century. 

Mughal architecture and Indo-Islamic architecture influenced Mughal Era (1526 CE-1857 CE). During this period Persian influence is noticable in Mughal tombs of sandstone and marble show. The Red Fort at Agra (1565–74) and the walled city of Fatehpur Sikri (1569–74) are among the architectural achievements of this period. The Taj Mahal, built as a tomb for Queen Mumtaz Mahal by Shah Jahan (1628–58) is undoubtly the most beautiful construction of this period.

Between 1857 CE—1947 CE, European colonialism and British Raj bought with it a wide array of influences to Indian architecture. Colonial architecture became assimilated into India's diverse traditions. Fusion has been a consistent feature of modern Indian architecture and is visible in the architecture of 'Rastrapati Bhawan' during this period.

Modern Indian architecture (post Independence 1947 onwards) also incorporated modern values as India became a modern nation state. Indian buildings, even today, reflect India's culture and myths. The ancient Indian architectural text of Vastu Shastra is widely used for planning houses, residential complexes, office, commercial, industrial and other building types. The economic reforms of 1991 further bolstered the urban architecture of India as the country became more integrated with the world's economy.

Indian architecture reflects its various socio-cultural sensibilities which vary from region to region. Growing awareness of ecology has influenced architecture in India during modern times and 'Green Buildings' are now a very popular concept. Urban housing in India balances space constrictions and is aimed to serve the working class.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Importance of Making Indian Cities More Sustainable

India needs thriving cities to reap benefits of potential demographic dividend i.e. a young and rapidly growing population. It is estimated that an additional 26 cities of one million or more will be added in India by 2030 to its 42 one million plus cities today. Also, by 2030, the population in cities will soar to 590 million (340 million in 2008). According to a new MGI research, cities could generate 70 percent of net new jobs created to 2030, produce around 70 percent of Indian GDP, and drive a near fourfold increase in per capita incomes across the nation. 

To achieve this. Indian cities needs to be more sustainable. However, Indian cities are deeply dissatisfying, with a glaring incompatibility between aesthetic engagement and utility. Our cities are today marked with traffic congestion, the absence of reliable public transportation, the unsympathetic view towards pedestrian rights, the lack of adequate road signs and the creation of new bottlenecks by new flyovers. Building livable cities should be the goal of the development.

According to the McKinsey report, however, India has sufficient time and the means to address many of these issues. The report has outlined 5 strategies to meet its urban financial obligations. These are:

1. Monetize land assets.
2. Maximize property taxes and usage charges.
3. Establish a formula-based grants systems from state and central government.
4. Use appropriate debt and private-sector participation (public-private partnerships).
5. Create enabling systems and city development funds to facilitate use of revenue sources.

In the light of the above, urban sustainability has become a very important issue today.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Architecture - Environmentally Conscious Design Technique

Green Architecture, also known as Sustainable Architecture, is a growing trend throughout the world. This environmentally-conscious design technique is largely driven by certain goals and principles. The basic goals are:

- To reduce the impacts on the Earth from constructing buildings and their materials like embodied energy, pollutants, mining and harvesting.

- To reduce the occupancy related impacts like fuel use, land pattern disruption, maintenance etc.

- To reduce the impact of the structure at the end of its life (decaying in place or joining a landfill)

- Creating a more desirable human experience by using natural materials.

Green Architecture helps create or renovate the existing buildings in a way that they have a minimal impact on the environment. One of the primary goals of green architecture is to reduce to the amount of energy required to keep inhabitants comfortable. Similarly, the postion of building on a property can make a significant difference in energy efficiency. A building uses less energy if it generates its own. Green architecture designs often include the use of solar energy to supply most, if not all, of the electricity needs of the occupants of a home or office building particularly for heating hot water which is generally the biggest use of energy in a household.

Water efficiency is also one of the concerns of Green Architecture. It depends on water conserving fixtures like ultra-low flush toilets and low-flow showerheads. Green designs may include grey water systems that use waste water from laundry, dishwashing and bathing. The water can be recycled on-site for landscape irrigation or flushing toilets.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What should India's future cities look like?

Indian cities, in comparison with cities around the world, are sorely under-invested, and the biggest challenge is creating an improved quality of life that balances economic opportunities with access to social amenities like housing, schools and hospitals, urban services and infrastructure. With 250 million people to be added to India's cities and towns over the next 20 years, the country needs a vision of the future, to inspire the next generation of cities to become world-class centres of urban endeavour, business, finance, sport and culture, while ensuring that smaller cities become stronger and more able to efficiently participate in the growth story. So what should India's future cities look like?

"By 2040 two-thirds of us are expected to live in the cities. To overcome the contradictions of urban living, we need solutions based on a collective vision of how we want to live and what we have to do to get there; then we have to invest in that future", asserts Aashish Karode in an article published in The Hindustan Times few days back. Here are the excerpts from this article:

With continuous inward rural migration and increased global connectivity, Indian cities are on the radar, as every informed citizen seeks to understand the mantra for their sustainability and efficient functioning. Recent reports put India's urban population at 340 million, roughly 30% of the total population of the country. This percentage is expected to grow by 40%, to 590 million, by 2030. This means we will need about 700 million sq metres of residential and commercial space for homes and jobs. And, to meet demand, we will need to create about 180 million jobs, 7,400 km of roads, new airports and subways, millions of square feet of schools, colleges and shopping malls, and so on.

Our cities are deeply dissatisfying, with a glaring incompatibility between aesthetic engagement and utility. Take the increasing angst of traffic congestion, the absence of reliable public transportation, the unsympathetic view towards pedestrian rights, the lack of adequate road signs and the creation of new bottlenecks by new flyovers. Add to this the impersonality of our buildings, our callousness towards streets and landscapes, our irrational priority on low-rise land use planning that has led to the shortage of affordable housing in urban hubs.

Development without urban design loses touch with the 'place', the architecture and the form of the city. The result is a monotonous and arbitrary repetition of traits that, instead of interpreting and emphasising the particularities of individual places, weakens them and produces a homogeneous quality, be it Mumbai, Nagpur, Kanpur or Delhi.

One way to avert this is through citizen-initiated proposals for urban development with clear local concepts, based on ideas relevant to particular places. Policymakers could then address how people want to work, travel, shop and earn and stimulate the desired quality of life in each city.

In the coming decade, cities will be judged by their environmental performance, quality of life and how well they are prepared for future challenges. 'Place making' and 'sustainability' will become important concepts in our urban design. On this score, Indian cities have not performed well. While it does take vision, long-term planning and time to turn a city around, we already have some excellent models in Surat, which has so rapidly revamped its waste management system, and New Delhi, which transformed its roads, infrastructure (via the Metro) and district centres.

The idea of sustainability can seem like a luxury at a time when so many cannot afford homes. But with more than half the world's population living in towns and cities, incremental improvement towards 'place making' and 'sustainability' will become vital.

Read full article

Aashish Karode is an Architect, urban designer and partner at Design Atelier