Monday, December 29, 2014

Green Buildings Are Not Expensive

Constructing green buildings is a practice that will 'save' our planet earth. Though the concept of ‘green buildings’ has been around in India for last few years, yet most constructions that take place in our country are conventional. This is largely due to the ‘myth’ that the going 'green' is a costlier affair. The fact is that conventional builders do not wish to upgrade the designing process of architecture, water management, energy management and related processes.

If we consider, for example, how water management in green building bring down the use of water, then we understand that going green is more cheaper than we think in longer period of time! Let us assume that a family has four members on an average. In a huge construction, there will 100 homes. Therefore, the water consumption per year, will be around 20 million litres. In a green building, it can be brought down to 90 litres per day per person using water saving faucets and taps.

So if a ‘green’ building is a cost effective proposition then why aren't more people opting for it? The primary reason is that making ‘green’ buildings is not obligatory. More over, consumers doesn't ask for it. If consumers become more and more aware of benefits of going green, then there will be a market for it and builders will have to offer green buildings. Also, the government has to take it up. Apart from going for ‘green’ buildings, making existing homes eco-friendly is one of the best ways to save energy. 

Architecture future: How buildings will begin to make our lives better

The virtual reality and needs of contemporary life have changed our relationship to physical space. Buildings aren't 'regularly' designed as they used to be. The architects, planners and designers have begun to create spaces that do more than protect us from the elements. The new buildings actually make us healthier by encouraging exercise and better diet. They balance our exposure to light and sound, thereby, improving our energy levels. Well-designed public places strengthen communities by drawing users from across social and economic divides to shared experiences.

"Architecture's next step is to build on the green movement that has made structures more energy-efficient and earth-friendly and to develop spaces that work as doctors, coaches and counselors for 21st-century life", writes Ray Mark Rinaldi in The Denver Post.

The holistic attitude, according to Rinaldi, is architecture's greatest promise and seems to be steering trends. More and more, landscape architects — a subset of the profession that used to enter building ventures late in the planning to finish parking lots and lawns — are emerging as project leaders, devising how sites will be organized, used and maintained. These days, they might be the ones to hire building architects to complete their vision.

A new way of thinking has a lot to do with  technology, but they're really guided by a new kind of thinking, one that employs design in revolutionary ways and elevates the role of buildings far beyond their primary purpose as shelter. It's about architecture making itself useful, saving lives, alleviating stress, easing class tensions. Architects spent the last century profiting from the proliferation of spaces that pollute, segregate, encourage us to overspend and exercise less. Green and healthy buildings undo the damage. Read full article:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Healthcare architecture has assumed great importance

Gone are the days when hospitals were shades of sombre grey and white teeming with patients of all kinds. In recent years, there has been a major transformation in the look and ambiance of the healthcare sector. The situation, today, is that it is hard to differentiate between healthcare infrastructure and hotels except in the services they offer. And because of this trend, healthcare architecture has assumed great importance and this specialized area of architecture has plenty of scope in the evolving Indian market.

The entry of major private players in the healthcare scenario in the last two decades brought about a sea change in the Indian healthcare industry. The change has also permeated to healthcare design and architecture. The philosophy of healthcare architecture speaks of the significance of the emotional and aesthetic aspects of the healthcare environment and believes this as an extremely important aspect of hospital design.

Even healthcare professional, now, agree that exposure of nature for the patients, especially direct sunlight, can promote faster healing and enhances the recovery period of the patient. Architects, who have been saying this too, today advocate Strategically located positive distractions like artwork, use of appropriate materials, interior colors and plants in order to reduce stress levels of not only the patients but also the attendants, hospital staff and doctors as well, thereby enhancing productivity.

Efficient utilization of space is very critical without jeopardizing the functional needs and in view of this, sustainable design takes a whole new dimension when it comes to hospitals.

There is plenty of scope to explore in healthcare sector and the requirement for healthcare architects is huge with the growth in the healthcare industry. To reach a ratio of even one bed per 500 patients, India needs to build 8.7 lakhs more hospital beds. According to latest studies, there will be a requirement of two million beds by 2027.

Building Sense: Beyond the green facade of sustainable habitat

A frenzy of construction in India is under full swing to meet the demand for homes, offices, and shops. A staggering two-third of buildings that will stand in India in 2030 are yet to be built. According to Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), there can be massive environmental debacle in the building sector if resource guzzling and wastes with appropriate architectural design, building material, and operational management are not minimized with some policies. There will be enormous impact (negative) on the quality of urban space; water and energy resources in cities; and waste generation if developers does not make these under construction buildings green.

The New Delhi based research and advocacy organization, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has raised this concern in a study- Building Sense: beyond the green facade of sustainable habitat. The organization has expressed deep concern that the data put out by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) on energy consumption of large commercial buildings that were rated and awarded silver, gold and platinum rating, under the LEED green rating programme, is incorrect. These buildings are grossly under-performing. Several of them cannot qualify even for the one star label under the energy star labelling programme of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) that ranks buildings based on their energy efficiency when operational. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The building which led to the future in the skyscrapers

Chicago’s Home Insurance Building, widely considered to be the world’s first modern skyscraper is supported, both inside and outside, by a fireproof metal frame. Constructed in 1884 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, the building was designed by American engineer William Le Baron Jenney. This was the first tall building to use structural steel in its frame. 

Jenney's lightweight steel frame relieved a structure of its heavy masonry shackles, enabling it to soar to new heights. Perplexed by this trade-in of solid brick for a spindly steel skeleton, Chicago inspectors paused the construction of the Home Insurance Building until they were certain it was structurally sound. 

The Home Insurance Building stood until 1931, when it was demolished to make way for another skyscraper, the Field Building (now known as the LaSalle Bank Building).

The sky is the limit for wooden buildings

Skyscraper and tall buildings have started to choke the atmosphere. In Britain alone, 47% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated from buildings, while 10% of CO2 emissions come from construction materials. Architects and engineers are now seeking new ways of building taller and faster without having such a drastic impact on the environment. And they are now looking at  the most basic building material of them all: wood.

Wooden skyscrapers could be the future of flat-pack cities around the world, says Athlyn Cathcart-Keays in an article published The Guardian. The development of engineered timber could herald a new era of eco-friendly ‘plyscrapers’. Christchurch welcomed its first multistorey timber structure this year, there are plans for Vancouver, and the talk is China could follow.

Wood in its raw form can not compete with iron or steel, therefore, layers of low-grade softwood are glued together to create timber panels. The “engineered timber” offers the prospect of a new era of eco-friendly “plyscrapers”.

For Vancouver-based architect Michael Green, the sky is the limit for wooden buildings. While nearing completion of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, Green’s practice, MGA, has also drawn up plans for a 30-storey, sun-grown tower for downtown Vancouver.

If built, Green’s vision would be easily the world’s tallest wooden building, soaring past the current contenders - London’s Stadthaus at nine storeys, and the 10-storey Forte Building in Melbourne. But that’s not the main motivation, according to MGA associate Carla Smith. “To be honest, it’s not like we really care about being the tallest,” she says. “We really do see a wooden future for cities, and our aim is to get others to jump on board too.” 

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Impact of Architecture on Health and Wellbeing

Architecture is probably the last thing that comes to our mind when we discuss public health. But the influence it makes on us is very significant. Architecture helps shape the quality of our environments and therefore certainly contribute to health and wellbeing of the public.

Architects have a big role to play in shaping the qualities of our environment and this promote our mental and physical health and make us happy. They are able to do this because they work in close collaboration with people who will use the space designed by them and also understands their needs and ambitions. And when a architect designs something that honours the needs and wellbeing of those who will use it, he actually determines how well a community lives and thrives.

Similarly, good architecture can help to create spaces in homes and hospitals that have the provision of treatment or support for those suffering with illness or trauma and also for caregivers. Architects through their intelligent architecture designs can ensure a positive prognosis for the future of healthcare by creating buildings that are good for body (health) and mind. This can surely be achieved if architects ensure multifunctional use of space (in hospitals) that is not only efficient but also provide privacy for every patient. Not only the comforts be kept in mind but also storage and entertainment systems should be such that patients feel as if they are being treated at home.

The public, healthcare professionals and architects must collaborate to provide quality healthcare architecture offering long-term benefits for their users.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wind for Power and Water: Ancient Persian Windmills

Green buildings, sustainable energy, utilizing natural light and water may all sound recently coined buzz-phrases but in reality these concepts dates back to tens of thousands of years. From Greece and Rome to Persia and North America, our ancestors had innovative concepts to use geothermal, water, wind and solar power. 

Ancient Persian windmills are perfect examples of how wind was utilized for power and water. Some 3000 years before in ancient Persia, windmills were used to grind grain and pump water. Vertical paddles were created by bundling reeds together and these paddles spun around a central axis. Carefully placed exterior walls ensured that wind would primarily drive the potentially bidirectional system in the desired direction. 

Images via: Ullesthorpe, Blue Planet, Deutsches Museum and World of Energy

Green Building Congress announces three new rating systems

The Indian Green Building Council recently announced its own rating system for new buildings. Till now the US Leed certification was followed in rating new buildings in India. The three new  rating systems will cover schools, metro rail projects and new buildings. Announcing the launching of the three systems at the CII Green Building Congress 2014, Prem C Jain, Chairman of IGBC, said the New Building Rating System comes in the backdrop of IGBC and US Green Building Council parting ways on the Leed certification programme. "We have adopted this approach as we believe India could become a next big Green Building base in the world,” he said.

India now has a registered green building base of over 2.2 billion sq.ft, which has been achieved in about 10 years. The Indian Green Building Council is aiming to have a registered base of about 10 billion sq.ft by 2022, when India would be 75 years after Independence.

A portal has also been created to facilitate online interface on green building rating systems.

Friday, September 5, 2014

AIIMS campus in Delhi to become climate-responsive

Ministry of Health has recently taken initiative to make AIIMS campus in Delhi climate-responsive. Renowned solar expert SP Gon Chowdhury will attempt to make the half-century-old All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) campus in Delhi energy efficient. Gon Chowdhury will also be advising the ministry to ensure that the new AIIMS units proposed in different states - including West Bengal - become 'green buildings'. The task to make AIIMS in Delhi climate responsive will be a tough one. The buildings of the institute dates back to the 1950s, and therefore large-scale retrofit will be  required. Though installing solar panels on the roof will be easy, conserving water, capturing daylight and managing solid waste effectively will be difficult.

"To reach the ultimate goal of a climate-responsive campus, we have to modernize the buildings so that they are more efficient. There are systems and technologies like solar dome to capture daylight and stream it through highly reflective 2-3 inch tubes. This can be used to light up an entire building during the day without the need to switch on electric lights," Gon Chowdhury explained. He also wish to capture the heat generated by air-conditioners and then use it to generate thermal power.

"Retrofit is happening everywhere including Italy, Latin America, the US, Australia and Germany. While any retrofit is a challenge, the bigger hurdle is to change the mindset so that people recognize the importance of being energy-efficient and carbon neutral," said Gon Chowdhury.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Delhi schools to try out solar power!

In order to utilize solar power, several public schools are considering setting up roof-top solar power plants in New Delhi. According to a report published in Times of India, the environment department of Delhi government has already installed roof-top solar power plants in four government schools - Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalayas in Mayur Vihar Phase I, Mangolpuri, Jwalapuri and RK Puram, Sector 12. These solar plants will produce 10 kilowatt each.

Vasant Valley School had set its plant up about a year-and-a-half ago and it takes care of about a third of our power requirement, informs Rekha Krishan, Principal of the school. Laxman Public School, too had tried to set up solar power plants for the hostel a couple of years ago, but it didn't work for them at that time. Usha Ram, principal,is considering to take it up again with the help of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). "We need it for our own requirement. We just need proper assistance," she says. 

According to a senior official in the environment department, the projects at government schools will be funded by a mix of government agencies—30% by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and 70% by Delhi government. The Delhi State Industrial And Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd will provide technical support. "The equipment has been installed but will be commissioned in a month or so," said the official.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Architects Can Now Test Energy Efficiency Before Construction!

A California lab has designed a rotating, customizable lab that allows commercial real estate developers to create mock-ups of planned buildings to test out their energy use. According to a story published in GreenWire, the architects can test the energy efficiency of the interior of a building before the building is constructed. This Energy Department-funded 'Flexlab', is aimed at bridging the gulf between expected savings from buildings’ efficiency and actual results.

Buildings which consume up to 40 percent of the country’s (USA) energy use often don’t deliver on their promises of efficiency. According to a study, it was found that a quarter of efficiently designed buildings underestimated their energy intensity by at least 25 percent.

“If we don’t really bend the curve on efficiency, we’re just not going to make the targets,” he said. “You’re going to have to pull together every muscle and sinew, and that’s what this facility does,” said Daniel Poneman, DOE Deputy Secretary. 

The lab facility, which was funded with $15.7 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allows building planners to create mock-ups of their interiors to see how they perform in the real world with an eye toward collecting data on energy efficiency as well as comfort and ease of use. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Could This Mushroom Building Be The Future Of Green Architecture?

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program, since last 15 years, challenges young architects to design innovative projects that bring new possibilities to our understanding of sustainable architecture. This year's winning project is a cylindrical tower which isn't quite manufactured but grown! The tower is 'grown' using entirely organic material made from cornstalks and the root-like structures of mushrooms, called mycelium. Designed by David Benjamin of New York architects The Living, is, simply put, a mushroom tower. And this mushroom tower could change the future of environmental design.

"In this project, we're using a living organism as a factory. So the living organism of mycelium, or hyphae, which is basically a mushroom root, basically makes our bricks for us," explained designer Benjamin. These mushroom roots, created by Ecovative in 2007, up till now have mostly been used as a packaging material. 

To create the brick substitute, the mixture of cornstalk and mushroom root is left to harden for several days into a sturdy solid through an entirely natural cycle requiring nearly no waste, nearly no energy and nearly no carbon emissions. Essentially, the architects channel the "biological algorithm" of mushroom roots to grow a building from the ground up. The entire growing process takes around five days.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, Seattle, Washington is the largest non-profit LEED-NC Platinum project in the world


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle, Washington is the largest non-profit LEED-NC Platinum project in the world. The sustainable design of the campus reduces the potable water use by 80 percent, and energy consumption by 40 percent - an upfront investment in this 100-year, energy-efficient building that will pay for itself in fewer than 30 years. The 640,000 square feet campus restores a wildlife habitat while hosting a major philanthropic organization. 

The campus which hosts largest LEED-NC Platinum building in the world today, once hosted railway trestles, homesteads, farming, a street-car barn and a bus barn. The campus now helps restore 40% of the campus back to being a wild bird habitat and this being done with two acres of vegetated roofs on parking structures, which feature edible plants like blueberries, huckleberries and red flowering currant. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus also have an intricate rainwater filtering system and 46 solar hot water collectors, saving energy along with birds - and if the foundation's will is done, the world.

This LEED Platinum campus enables its workforce to focus on their mission: giving all people a chance to live healthy and productive lives. A post-occupancy research findings claims a 90% staff satisfaction rating for the new workplace and higher degrees of cross-team collaboration.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Emotional Benefits of Sustainable Architecture

All of us are connected to the architecture in some way and can experience it in our homes, workplaces, surroundings or when we see monuments and even modern buildings. Architecture can even inspire us more so if it is 'Green'! Sustainable Architecture can have emotional benefits too. 

You feel connected to the nature
Sustainable Architecture means deeply integrating green technologies like wind and solar power, natural climate controls and space-age materials in to the building processes. The final product is a unit that connects and benefit from nature. Everyone deserves good space derived from good ideas - and if the idea is green, then naturally you feel more connected to the nature. Sustainable and modern architecture, actually, seek to strike a balance between modern comforts and our connection to nature.

You become responsible to the environment
Worldwide, buildings consume nearly 40% of the world's energy, 25% of its wood, and 15% of its water! By adopting green building strategies, you can maximize both economic and environmental performance. Therefore, directly or indirectly, you not only fulfill your duty towards the environment but also make smarter choice when you decide to go green.

You feel connected to the community
Sustainable architecture is also about the connectivity of community. Smart green design and construction requires people to recognize the power of community. And, ultimately the community and the people within it gets benefited the most, hence, there is a sense of connectivity among people - within and with the community.

There is a feeling of health and well-being
When you connect with the nature and the people and when there is positivity in the environment around, then it is not surprising that there will be feelings of good health and well-being. Clean lines, open spaces, warm materials, natural environments and modern forms are all independently healthy and positive. Moreover, superior indoor air quality and control over thermal comfort naturally makes living healthy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Metro stations to be rated on green building standards

The green building movement in India has got impetus with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) announcement that stations of Delhi Metro's upcoming Phase III, along with other stations across the country, will be rated to judge their compatibility with green building norms.

Anuj Dayal, the Delhi Metro spokesman said,"Metro stations will be rated on green building standards and this will help the metro systems design their stations as eco-friendly structures and utilize natural resources such as sunlight more effectively." 

"Green buildings help in better preservation of the environment as in such structures there are provisions for better saving of energy, water and CO2. Such buildings also have better waste management arrangements," added Dayal. 

"The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), a body involved in promoting the Green Building concept in India, will be conducting this rating process. They will also issue guidelines for designing the station structures as green buildings," he added.

The rating process will help the upcoming Metro projects design their stations according to green building norms. They can later apply for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a globally accepted green building certification programme that recognizes the best in class building strategies and practices. DMRC had announced earlier that all the stations in its third phase of expansion along with 12 receiving sub-stations and residential quarters will be designed as green buildings. Apart from Kolkata and Delhi, metro systems are also operational at Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Green roofs to provide respite from hot summers!

Few days back a Virginia Tech architect revealed that 'green roofs' need not go to great depths to work. Elizabeth J. Grant, an assistant professor of architecture and design at Virginia Tech said, "With growing numbers of people moving into cities, it is crucial to give architects and builders tools to make good decisions about green roofs," Grant said. "These systems are on the rise not just because they represent a link to the natural world that is scarce in the city, but because they work. Extremes of temperature and rainfall are becoming unpredictable as climates change, and vegetated roofs help us build resilience in a rapidly changing world."

A green roof is a vegetative layer grown on a rooftop to provide shade and remove heat from the air through evapotranspiration, decreasing temperatures of the roof surface and the surrounding air. Green roofs, therefore, are effective technique to get respite from summer. The process also helps in saving energy consumption by cutting cooling cost of the buildings significantly. Green roofs also reduce storm water runoff and flow rates, which in turn helps prevent sewers from overflowing and stream banks from eroding.

Green roofs can be installed on a wide range of buildings, from industrial structures to private homes. These vegetated roofs can be as simple as a 2-inch covering of ground cover or as complex as a fully accessible park complete with trees! 

Apart from cooling the building, the green roof reduces energy consumption, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Green roofs can slow storm water runoff in the urban environment and also improve indoor human health, comfort and quality of life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

By 2019, India's government promises at least one lightbulb in every home, thanks to solar energy

The new central government of India has promised at least one bulb in every home with solar energy by 2019. This idea of generating electricity with roof-top solar plant has prompted state governments in India to go door-to-door, or rather roof-to-roof, to solve their acute and recurring power problems.

Karnataka which is the largest southern state by area has recently announced its new solar policy and the state government plans to buy energy from homes and public buildings that generate power from rooftop solar panels connected to the power grid. This summer Karnataka had a shortage of more than 400 megawatts of power in April. Also, Bangalore, the state’s capital, witnessed power cuts every two hours in the hot months of April and May. If this solar energy plans goes well then Karnataka will add 2,000 megawatts (2 gigawatts) to the state’s power kitty and rooftops will contribute 400 megawatts by 2018. Karnataka has 10 gigawatts of solar energy potential because the city gets over 300 sunny days a year!

Typically a residential rooftop area in India ranges between 200 and 1,000 square feet. This means it can comfortably house a standard one-kilowatt solar photo voltaic system. The Energy and Resources Institute estimates these systems can cost as little as Rs 110,000.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


The Chimes Building, Gurgaon has been featured in May' 2014 issue of Journal of Indian Institute of Architects. We reproduce the content here.

Ar Aashish V Karode, B.Arch. MUD (Berkeley), USA
Aashish believes in Architecture that is beautifully functional, ecologically responsible and environmentally sustainable. While he finds his passion in the careful balance of client and end user input, he matches this with an uncompromising dedication to design that elevates the experience of places that he designs. His hands-on project involvement, with his dedication and commitment to sustainable design through elegant and high performance environments are the key to many of the successful projects done by the firm. His core expertise of a strong creative design approach to projects and a practical methodology to finding solutions that fit the client's needs is an essential component that shapes the firm's design philosophy.

With over 20 years of extensive design experience on a number of significant projects, Aashish has led the firm in a variety of works ranging from hospitality, schools, commercial and institutional projects to townships including the Reliance Power Township at Sasan, and Industrial Townships in Odisha and various LEED Gold and Platinum projects that the firm has recently been engaged with.

Ar Sushil L Karer, B.Arch., Institute of Environmental Design
Karer is focused on the role that design plays in creating exciting and stimulating environments that are sustainable over their life cycle and use resources conservatively. He has more than 20 years of experience in architecture, facilities planning, design and concept development of Institutional Architecture and Interior Design in the IT, hospitality, retail and residential sectors and project implementation. His experience and commitment is a complement to Design Atelier's sustainability resume and market focus. Karer adds depth and energy to his team because of which the company has emerged as one of the most highly regarded architectural firms in the country.


The Architecture of the Chimes Building, Gurgaon is about creating public spaces that are accessible and enable the experience of nature within the spaces of the building, symbolizing life inside the building. The design of the building addresses issues of sustainability, sociability, making room for nature, and programme flexibility. The building mass is specially developed to demonstrate a novel solution for a multi-tenanted office building with floor plate size flexibility to create a mix of tenants from various service sectors and industries. To create a high profile address, it was envisioned to organize each floor as potentially heterogeneous openplan environments. They can be combined or be separated on user requests with controlled indoor environments and amenities to suit a variety of needs for large and small businesses organized to share common community resources set up in the building.

The design of the building emphasizes diversity of all kinds: juxtaposition of people, functions, built forms, spaces. Activities are just some of the fundamental elements that help encourage an inclusive and sustainable public sphere that thrives at all times. The building is raised up from the ground on pilotis, allowing free-flowing open spaces. The building is shaded from the harsh sun, with a variety of water pools and guided streams cooling the air and plants growing within and around the building on the site to cool the ground. A variety of public spaces are created at ground level that are accessible, shaded and close to nature. These spaces encourage serendipitous meetings, foster community engagement and active participation in urban work life.

At the ground, the concept of openness, spaces flowing together, plays a major factor in the design. The public areas including a restaurant/café are located on the ground floor, with smaller spaces to encourage people to meet spontaneously for coffee or for informal meetings. Various spaces for public functions are offered- an open air performing arts theatre, a cafeteria, a future exhibition space and a restaurant. A number of available conference rooms, meeting lounges form a complete sociable and efficient centre for the complex to respond to all nature of business requirements. Sky terraces attached to each floor plate connect to nature.

To maximize the use of green spaces and the views from within and outside and make use of the ground, otherwise lost to building footprint, the design places the gardens around glass-lined movement corridors and staircase cores. The journey path through the spaces of the building, lift lobbies, holding areas, social spaces, cafeteria and reception are located along the way and designed as people places. It suggests the idea of diverse experience of graded light and shaded spaces, landscape variation to include plant and animal life (etched into the stone surfaces), air, earth and water as part of each of the pauses and transition experiences. Visual connections are made through glass courtyards, corridors and lobbies, together with the complex interconnections and interpenetrations of interior spaces, the interplay of light and choices of just a few material finishes. The symbolism of the landscape and the architectural artifact are intended to enliven the whole ensemble.

The form development follows the idea of raising the building on pilotis to relieve the ground and give back the landscape to the ground- creating a sociable and welcoming space of the entrance reception. Reception is a glass cube set in a water garden, using plants as tree cover and water as climate modulators. A variety of water bodies and plants have been provided around and inside the building to cool the ground, and transform it into a space with positive energy, shaded social spaces, and graded light. Open spaces and light wells work as courtyards that relieve the bulk of the form and supply natural light to the inside of the office floor plates.

The floor plates are modular, independently equipped with amenities/ facilities for modern office requirements and can be combined into heterogeneous open plan environments to suit a variety of needs for a mix of large and small businesses sharing common community resources set up in the building. With this profile, the flexibility in floor plate size makes for best possible marketing to create a mix of tenants from various service sectors and industries.

The Façade design is guided by its visibility and response to the street corner, visibility from the surrounding spaces and the main roads and to the climatic considerations of the solar path, natural light penetration and breezes. It is equally about imagining a sensible notion of contemporariness, with formal and material choice that echo the historic form of massive Indian wall making that rejects heat and the high sun, but allows filtered natural light. The North allows light, but rejects reflected heat, the ribbon windows on the west, east and south faces are set high on the floor plate to allow the deeper penetration of a limited amount of the harsher western and southern light, but freely allows internal courtyard reflected light and North light to penetrate the plates through large treated glass surfaces. The heat gain thus reduced is further mitigated by the use of heat reflective paint and the insulated wall section.

A number of strip windows in the otherwise massive walls are used to visually connect the interior and the exterior and is mitigated by the use of anti-dazzle e-glass so people do not lose touch with the natural environment while at work. Outsiders get curious glimpses of light and activity through the façade that activates the otherwise solid building as a place of action.

The architecture is used to develop the building marked by energy efficiency, operational convenience, low operational cost and optimized investment costs. It focuses not only on the façade, sun shading, and lighting details but above all, also on minimizing the energy consumption of the building while optimizing natural light consumption. The building is glazed on the North face and on shaded facades with higher performance glass responsive to the conditions. On exposed and direct heat receiving faces a solar façade of small openings set up high on the floor, allow less direct heat and maximizes penetrations of light into the plate.

The insatiable demand for parking is met by the provision for a double stack parking system, extra capacity preferred parking spaces for car poolers, and parking for the electric shuttle to connect with the future metro nearby. This facilitates an office building without visible cars and frees the ground to landscape and a pleasing outdoor environment.

The building consists four inter connected floor plate blocks of varied size and scale organized around courtyards. These floors are independently equipped with amenities for all modern office requirements.

Project Details
Name of Client : Chimes Group, Athena
Business Solutions
Design Team : Aashish Karode, Prosenjit Banerjee
Site Area : 2 Acres
Built-Up Area : 270,000 sft
Date of Commencement : March 2008
Completion Date : January 2011- 2012 Interiors
Photo Credits : Dileep Prakash, Aashish Karode, Navin Kumar

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Japan to Assist India Build 24 Green Cities in Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

In recent years India has worked to diversify its energy supplies and make its infrastructure ‘greener’. The ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project is the largest infrastructure project currently underway in the country. Japan is helping India to build 24 Green Cities in India’s western region. The work in 7 of the 24 green cities has already underway, with Gujarat set to be the first state to undergo an eco upgrade. The green cities project is part of the proposed $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor mega-infrastructure project which aims at boosting the economic growth along the about 1500-km-long stretch that joins the most important cities of India, New Delhi and Mumbai.

The objective is to develop green cities which would be planned and executed in a manner that would ensure sustainable growth. These proposed cities would have better transport facilities centered around public transport. The green cities will also have access to optimized power supply and 24-hour water supply. It has also been planned that these cities would also have their own waste and water recycling plants.

Japan is offering its energy-efficient technologies to make these green cities as sustainable as possible. Japan has invested in numerous infrastructure projects in India including the Delhi Metro project. The DMIC project is already underway and will cover six states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

India: Urbanization & Increase in Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is a serious problem in most cities of India, with hardly any space for safe pedestrian movement. Even in public transport services like buses and and trains, the public has to struggle for few inch of space as they are overcrowded. The fast urbanization across India including in cities like Chennai (which is the commercial capital of south India) poses a new set of challenge. In Chennai buses carry 30% more passengers every day than the international average and probably because of the inconvenience attached to this overcrowded public, more and more affluent commuters leave the system and buy their own vehicles. And, because of this, there has been a 95% increase in car ownership in Tamil Nadu state.

In Mumbai, according to a study, 44% of the city walks to work, though among the poor, that number jumps to 63%. Here, in Mumbai as well, the ever-increasing number of cars has brought major complications and this goes beyond traffic jams. Poor air quality and a increase in road accidents has put people particularly those who live and work on the roadsides at great risk.

The traffic problem in Delhi is no different and a study make us acquaint to the traffic scenario in the rest of urban India. There were 44 lakh vehicles on Delhi roads in 2004 which will almost double by 2021 when the next Master Plan will be implemented. The road length, however, has not increased proportionately.

In Kolkata, metro rail and Vivekanand Setu were constructed to ease traffic flow. But traffic congestion in several old localities and near Haora bridge remains a daily routine. In Ahmedabad, the speed of vehicles comes down to 5 km/hr on Gandhi Marg and several other roads due to congestion and overcrowding.

The big cities of India, because of the unplanned urbanization and overwhelming increase of vehicles, are almost reached to a state of paralysis. There is a strong need to study and find solution to the problems related to traffic congestion and unmindful urbanization!

Green buildings don’t create happier workers!

A new study coauthored by a UC Berkeley researcher says that occupant satisfaction with LEED-certified office building environments appears to decline with time.

If you thought working in a green building leads to greater satisfaction in the workplace, then it is the time for a rethink! According to a new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, workers in LEED’s certified green buildings appear no more satisfied with the quality of their indoor workplace environments than those employed in conventional buildings.

The findings of this new research was published in April issue of the journal Building and Environment and concludes that most workers do not experience a higher level of workplace satisfaction simply because they work in LEED certified buildings. This findings are based on the survey responses of 21,477 individuals in 144 mainly large office buildings, mostly in the United States. Of those buildings, 65 are LEED certified. Occupant satisfaction with LEED-certified office building environments appears to decline with time, with the greatest level of satisfaction reported during the first year that a worker spends in a green building.

Researchers, however, said that these conclusions does not mean green certification is outdated, costly or useless. Green buildings do have positive effect on people health and well-being, climate change and energy security.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Working with Glass

Surface Reporter, India's 1st 'Material-centric' magazine for exterior-interior products & projects, shared the experiences of the veterans in working with glass. The spotlight was on Aashish Karode & Sushil Karer, Principal Architects, Design Atelier who too shared their experiences of working with Glass. Here is excerpt from this feature:

Our design has always endeavored to work with craft, light, air, water, natural environment and technology as if they are materials in the construction of space. The use of glass to delineate the inside allows the exterior or outdoors to seamlessly penetrate the inside spaces becoming one aspect of the “whole” thing. The user are always able to register this as the major move by the architects, that actually enliven the spaces to be more than just rooms, and the form to be way more than just building construction.

The use of glass comes with multiple challenges in practice and these are not just about fragility as a material. Constraints of size and transportation, lack of highly specialized converters for operations involving combinations of glass. Lack of specialists with application and process knowledge, Weather resistance, Conversions in specialized applications like underwater, Safety, Deflection and Performance in solar applications are the major challenges we face in practice.

Glass manufacturers could provide clear graphical and numerical information and samples kits for architectural practices. They also need to develop local Application centres where special sizes and special applications can be methodically developed for architectural applications with reasonable costs and time bound project deliveries.

Design Atelier is a well known architecture firm based in New Delhi. Spanning across Architecture, Campus Design and Master planning, Housing, Hospitality, Retail and Workplace Design, the firm has developed around 250 projects till date. Their most notable glass projects include Indian Oil Refinery, Panipat, Athena, Gurgaon, Bhai Twins Corporate Tower, Noida and Lohia Group Corporate Tower.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Shaping Spaces

Design of a retail space now builds consumer loyalty and reflects what the brand stands for, in an environment of convergence of limitless sub-cultures of internet, grand fantasy and face-to-face connections in stores. In an article, published in April' 2014 issue of Retail Today, Aashish Karode ask the consumers to be prepared to find an ultra-futuristic whimsy store with a window display of inspired vintage and romantic furnishings with oversized, backlit chess pieces, rendered in plastic film, within a 2,000 sq-ft hair salon!

Aashish Karode is a principal with Design Atelier Urbis, a New Delhi, India based famous architecture firm. He writes, "We are witnessing far more nontraditional and diverse approaches to design, locations, and offerings being cross-pollinated between various formats of retail. Contrary to glitzy marbles and granites of yesteryears, there is now a co-mingling of high brow and low grade materials - such as marine-grade plywood, raw packing creates and exposed or impressioned concreate. Using these materials showcases rather simplified lightwood interiors to subdue the users with a true feelings of free flow and weightlessness while also combining ultra-luxury high end furniture with display cases made from shipping crates!

Retail stores, according to Aashish, now balance the changing and ever more complex environment of physical stores, online presence, creative calalogues and radical marketing. Not only are there multiple selling streams and real estate spaces to contend with, but there are also the demographic range of their customers who have widely differing aspirations and choices to consider.

Global influences, local context, realty prices and discerning consumers are leading the revolution of design in retail. The drastic changes seen in departmental stores that are becoming boxes to hold several in-stores and pop-up stores, makes brands compete to create their own alluring environments within. Therefore, brands design their own space within a larger shared space! Read full article in Retail Today, April' 2014 issue.

Creating Memorable Hospitality Designs for a Truly Exceptional Guest Experiences

The design for gathering places for leisure and recreation should be memorable because these are the destinations that people return to time and again. A truly exceptional designs not only ensure exceptional guest experiences but also enhance the brand. A memorable guest experience by its definition is not common; it is not typical; it is unusual, if not unique. If two hospitality centres located at cities of two different countries look the same, then the experiences too are not different.

Design Atelier, therefore, believes that each project is a signature design, differentiated by architectural elements, finishes, furnishings, accessories, lighting and art to create style, image and an inviting ambiance. And, a professional interior design should not only ensure that clients have a memorable experience but also makes a positive impact on them. Meaningful, memorable and original experiences influence the way customers perceive a brand (or an organization) and feel about the 'space'. Adding little details together will help designers creating something of far more value than you would without them. These little details motivate customers to come back over and over, pay happily and recommending everyone they know to you.

Designing and creating big is easy and everyone can do it, but it is concentrating over little details that differentiate one space from another and that influence customers to choose one over the other. Attentiveness cost nothing, nor do personalization and consideration.

Design Atelier creates interior environments as memorable experiences, with original, personal & thoughtful design aesthetics.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Design Atelier at channel IndiaNOMY

It was nice to discover that channel IndiaNOMY at YouTube has shared videos of some of our projects and activities. We are sharing few of them over here:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Psychology of colors in Architecture Designs

Faber Birren, who is the considered the father of applied color psychology, once proclaimed: “The study of color is essentially a mental and psychological science, for the term color itself refers to sensation." No can disagree with the fact that color is an integral element of our world, not just in the natural environment but also in the man-made architectural environment. The role of colors in an architectural design are not (or should not be) limited to decoration alone, psychological influence (or what would be) of colors should be considered. 

Studies have proved that the reaction of humans in any of the architectural environment is to a large percentage is based on the sensory perception of color. The human response to color is total - it influences human beings psychologically and physiologically. The color designer involved in architectural process must understand how the reception of visual stimulation will process and evoke responses thereby creating best possibilities for the welfare of human beings. This is important because the psychology of colors play different tasks and function in different units such as hospitals, offices, production units & factories, educational institutes, homes for the elderly, correctional facilities, and so on. A classroom has a different function than a hospital ward; an office space is not a factory, etc.

What colors say?
Pastel yellow conveys the impression of Soft, sunny and friendly vibes. The interior space with this color is stimulating, brightness, coziness.

Red is arousing, passionate, fiery and aggressive. Therefore the message red conveys in the interior too is advancing, dominant and aggressive.

Green is balancing, natural, calm with the message of simplicity, security, balance.

The white being open, vast, neutral and sterile gives the message of purity, sterile, emptiness, and indecisiveness.

How to Make an Existing Building Green

There are ways to make your existing building 'green' without making major structural changes. One can take steps to reduce environmental impact by effectively managing the way a building uses water and energy. The mantra is - 'start with small changes, which can add up to a big impact'. Here are few steps one can take to make an existing building go green:

First thing you can do is to change existing light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which use up to 75 percent less power. It is also green idea to put lights on a timer so they automatically shut off at night or when you are away. Make sure all building's lighting uses energy efficiently. You should also ensure that your heating and cooling systems are maintained regularly so they use energy efficiently and last longer.

Ensure your building is well insulated. This would prevent wastage of energy on heating or cooling. Similarly, there are numerous ways, which we all know, to reduce our building's electricity use. Put them to practice. 

Do not waste water. By fixing tiny issues one can not only preserve water but also save money. Use dual-flush toilets. Fix leaks and replace your existing fixtures with low-flow options. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, low-flow shower heads save over 7 gallons per minute!

Is there any link between 'Green' and 'Staff Productivity'?

The links between the environmental credentials of the workplace and staff productivity is generating interest these days. It is being talked about that corporates are shifting their focus away from space efficiencies and are asking questions with real estate consultants (when making strategic location decisions) about the environmental credentials of the space and how it will support the productivity of their staff.

According to a reserach, "green" office features, such as better ventilation, low toxicity materials and better daylighting are also good for the office worker's health, wellbeing and resulting productivity. Studies have linked improved ventilation and daylighting with up to 11 percent and 23 percent gains in productivity respectively. Jane Henley, CEO, World Green Building Council, in her article published in writes, "there has been a recent explosion of interest in the impact of the office environment on staff health, productivity and overall wellbeing and happiness. The global real estate sector is now taking this issue really seriously. What's perhaps more surprising is that it is often the sustainability team within real estate services companies and developers who are leading this agenda as opposed to HR departments."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

100 Years of Architectural Drawing

During this modern era of computer-generated architectural drawings, a design and architecture historian has come out with a book that speaks of hand sketches of architectural drawings. Titled '100 Years of Architectural Drawing', the book is authored by Neil Bingham who is the consulting curator of architectural drawings at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The book highlights 300 architectural drawings from the 20th century that illustrate the evolution of the form.

“From our perspective today, in which the computer-aided design [CAD] drawing dominates,” Bingham writes, “the twentieth century appears as the golden age of traditional architectural hand-drawing.”

The book is divided into 5 chronological sections that are prefaced by short essays that highlight the trends and styles of that period. Each drawing is captioned with key information about the architect, the project, and the drawing.

“In this survey of architectural drawings, we can trace the historical visual narrative of 20th century architecture in design and draughtmanship,” Bingham writes. “One of tradition, experiment and beauty.” The book will appeal to all students and practitioners of architecture as well as anyone with an interest in the subject.

 French architect Raymond Cornon's rigorous, highly realistic pencil sketch of the restoration of a half-timbered building in Rennes, France, 1965. Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing

Why Build Green?

Good for environment, energy conservation and the world, green buildings are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout it's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. So, if we put into the practice of 'green' when we build or renovate any building, then we can significantly contribute to the health, wealth and well-being of our self, the families for whom we build, our community, and the world.

You'll be surprised to know that that worldwide, buildings consume nearly 40% of the world's energy, 25% of its wood, and 15% of its water! By adopting green building strategies, we can maximize both economic and environmental performance. Therefore, we make smarter choice when we decide to go green.

Benefits of green buildings
There are numerous Social, economic and environmental benefits for building green. Below we are highlighting only the economic benefits (compared with normal buildings):

• 88% reduction in lighting consumption
• 35% reduction in potable water use
• 20% of the building’s energy requirement is provided by photovoltaics
• 15-20% less load on AC thanks to aerated concrete blocks used in facades 
• 80% of materials used are either recycled or recyclable
• 90% of building daylit
• Zero water discharge building
• 75% of occupants have outside view
• 50% savings in overall energy consumption

Solar is Green: Where to put Photovoltaic Panels?

The new 'mantra' is to build "zero energy" homes or offices. This can be achieved by combining green-building techniques with active solar systems. A "zero energy" building is one that produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year. Making use of solar energy using Photovoltaic Panels is at the heart of sustainable building. But it is important to understand that where should these Photovoltaic Panels placed.

A small amount of shade covering the panel can reduce the panel performance by 80%. Therefore, the most important point to remember is that when choosing a location for your Array is shading obstacles.

Find out which month has the least amount of sun on average. Determining this month is particularly important if you intend to use or constructing a system that will be used year-round. Similarly, if you want to use it for summer or winter, you will have to find month with least sun during months that you will use the system.

It is also very important to estimate the availability of sun and the cloud cover. Obtaining this information may be little difficult. Sometimes you can get this information on the web otherwise you may contact concerned authorities in you town/city.

You want to choose a location that is on or near the place where you loads will be. The array should be free of shade (during each month in use) from 9 am to 3 pm. This is the optimum time-frame a panel has to receive light and is called the “Solar Window".

Friday, February 7, 2014

Architecture is about teamwork!

Few days back while accepting the 'Woman Architect of the Year Award' at London’s Langham Hotel, the Dutch architect Francine Houben said, 'Architecture is about teamwork, about being supportive and visionary at the same time'. We, at Design Atelier, too strongly believe that architecture is about teamwork, about being visionary and supportive at the same time. 

Architecture is actually a teamwork. It is a group of people who are working towards single goal- the project. Working as a team, we have one common goal - to serve our community and clients through architecture. It is important to have contributions from everyone. And therefore, we value each other and need everybody's perspectives.

Design Atelier boasts of a highly qualified team whose expertise matches the project scope and consists of multidisciplinary staff and technical partners. We have highly qualified professionals in the areas of Architecture, Landscape, Urban & Environmental Design, Strategic Planning & Communication, Structural Engineering, Air Conditioning, Electrical Engineering, Civil and Public Health Engineering, Project & Construction Management.   

We continue to expand our multi-disciplinary teams and technical partners of over 50 professionals to solve design challenges.

Meet the people
Aashish V. Karode
Sushil L. Karer
Pawan Bangali
Jaspal Singh
Vivek K. Srivastava
Prosenjit Banerjee
Madhvi Gogia

We want to leave good marks on the earth and would like to measure our work by the pleasure of the lives lived in our buildings and projects.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Benefits Of Adding Greenery To Your Home Or Office

The greenery in home or office interact with your body and mind in ways that enhance the quality of life or work. Greenery inside helps you breathe easier because adding plants to interior spaces can increase oxygen levels. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen while human bodies does just the opposite - takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.

Plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Therefore, by placing many plants together you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keeps respiratory distresses at bay.

Greenery purifies air. The plants have abilities to remove toxins from the atmosphere and therefore a green space will have pure air. Also, according to studies keeping green plants in hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients. Patients in rooms with plants have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less pain, fatigue and anxiety, and are also released from the hospital sooner.

We share a picture below which explains the benefits of adding greenery inside!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

India can be ahead of other countries in producing green electricity from sunlight

The solar energy potential in India is immense due to its convenient location near the Equator. Isn't this amazing that India receives solar energy that is equivalent to over 5000 trillion kWh/year, and this is far more than the total energy consumption of the country! It is also possible to use this solar energy for different types of applications. It can be used for both grid-connected and off-grid generation of power. Imagine if even 50 percent of this energy is utilized, then how much we can save on the total energy expenditure!

The amount of solar energy produced in India in 2007, according to wikipedia, was less than 1% of the total energy demand. The grid-interactive solar power in 2010 was merely 10 MW. In 2005, Government funded solar energy in India only accounted for approximately 6.4 MW-yr. However, India is ranked number one in terms of solar energy production per watt installed, with an insolation of 1,700 to 1,900 kilowatt hours per kilowatt peak (kWh/KWp). By the end of March 2013 the installed grid connected photovoltaics had increased to 1686.44 MW and India expects to install an additional 10,000 MW by 2017, and a total of 20,000 MW by 2022.

Even the Indian Railways has plans to use solar power to supply electricity to air-conditioned coaches in some of the country's express trains.

The builders have also realized the the power of solar energy and have started installing photovoltaic systems in their buildings. Also known as solar electricity systems, these panels capture the sun's energy and convert the sunlight into electricity which can be used to run  appliances and lighting in homes or office buildings.

India can lead the world in energy efficiency construction

The emphasis on green buildings continues to gain momentum in India and all over the world. This is inspite of the fact that the green buildings are making up less than 5 percent of the booming Indian building market. Today developers, government and experts realize that there is a tremendous opportunity for expanding energy efficiency construction in India. During a congress held last year in India, the Chairman of the Indian Green Building Council, Dr. Prem Jain emphasized “India is going to lead the world in new construction. The opportunity is huge.” 

A green building is one which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for its inhabitants. And, therefore, the pressure to implement sustainable energy systems, use natural resources and source eco-friendly green products and services is overwhelming.

Currently there are only 2,204 green buildings, including hospitals, hotels, colleges and IT parks in the country. This number is expected to grow to about one lakh by 2025 across India, say estimates by the Indian Green Building Council. You'll be surprised to know that in the year 2001, there was only one green building in India.

Sustainable buildings experts say that green buildings are beneficial not just in energy conservation, but also in cost reduction. Green buildings can help save a lot of energy and reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health.

The Green Building Movement in India got a major impetus when Chimes building in Gurgaon was awarded LEED/IGBC Gold Rating. Designed by India's famous architectural firm Design Atelier, the building addresses issues of sustainability, sociability, making room for nature and program flexibility. The Architecture of the Chimes is about creating public spaces that are accessible and enable the experience of nature within the spaces of the building, symbolizing life inside the building. Chimes Building of Gurgaon was also awarded the "Green Project of the Year" by Construction Week Awards 2013.