Category Archives: Social Responsibility

Balkrishna Doshi Rues Lack of Ideas

doshi Poverty of ideas and a lack of social commitment in many of India’s contemporary architects could leave us with no skyline we can call our own two decades from now, fears visionary architect-planner Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi.

“What will happen to our cities after 20 years? We have no public realm, no urban development, no museums, no civic spaces and no institutions to inspire us,” the Padmashri awardee lamented while speaking at an interactive session organised by Ambuja Realty at the CII Suresh Neotia Centre of Excellence for Leadership on Tuesday evening.

Doshi gave the city its first “large-format, socio-economically tiered” housing in the shape of Udayan, The Condoville. The architect, who had worked for four years (1951-54) with Le Corbusier as senior designer in Paris, and then in India to supervise Corbusier’s projects in Ahmedabad and Chandigarh, felt modern India wasn’t creating any architectural heritage we could be proud of 20 years on.

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Goa to get Green Infrastructure.

Architects, planners and others with green caps and fingers are unveiling a plan to promote use of green principles for eco-friendly

infrastructure, necessitated by climate change.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII, Goa) and Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) Goa chapter have initiated a joint effort towards creating a cell in Goa to promote green buildings for housing, industries and commercial sector. "We are working on the building design, incorporating the green concept and doing computer test models to ensure that the buildings are really energy-saving before we actually build them," said Dean D’Cruz, architect and former chairman of IIA (Goa chapter).

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Could India Become a Solar Leader?

By JAMES KANTER for The New York Times

India may be gearing to turn itself into the global leader in solar power generation, a sign that major developing nations could become renewable energy hubs to rival Germany and the United States.

solarindia Called the National Solar Mission, the Indian plan outlines a target for 20,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020, according to a draft copy obtained by Greenpeace and posted to the Web.

“This would be the most ambitious solar plan that any country has laid out so far,” said Siddharth Pathak, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace India.

India would generate 100,000 megawatts of solar power by 2030 and 200,000 megawatts by mid-century under the plan.

The plan acknowledges the high cost of solar compared with other sources of energy, and coal in particular. But it says costs could be driven down to between 4 and 5 rupees per kilowatt hour by the period 2017-2020, making solar cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

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Le Corbusier’s legacy lost in last 40 years

Forty years ago, we lost a kind of leadership which inspires creativity. With Le Corbusier’s passing away, a voice which talked of a new vision of the world was taken away from our midst. In the 1950s all architects in India were steeped in patterns of thought that had come to us from our British education and Indian experience. We thought about architecture and planning in terms that had evolved through 150 years of British occupation.

Corbusier through his works in India opened up new possibilities which, we have not yet been able to integrate into our architecture.

This visionary had to fight our conventions of thought. He proposed cities where buildings were lifted off the ground on ‘pilotis’ or pillars and simultaneously terraces became gardens.

Huge vistas of green would have opened up on the ground and regained the lost open space on the terraces again. Concrete, his chosen material would have made this possible.

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Think of people when you develop: activists

Express News Service
A week after the state government decided to set up a committee for ‘Slumless Mumbai’, activists have called for the need to keep inclusive development at the heart of any new policy.

On Monday, at a panel discussion held by the housing rights group Ghar Banao Ghar Bhacao Andolan, several social activists highlighted the absolute lack of people-centric development in a majority of policies of the state government. The activists who were part of the panel include Urban Studies professor at Tata Institute of Social Studies Amita Bhide, architect and urban researcher Neera Adakar, transport expert Sudhir Badami and leader of National Alliance of People’s Movement Medha Patkar.

“The problem with committees like the one that has been formed for transforming Mumbai into a ‘slumless’ city as well as existing schemes like SRA, is that it is focused on increasing the Floor Space Index. No thought is given to the fact that resettling slumdwellers in tiny flats in highrises means adding more density and straining the infrastructure,” said Adarkar. She gave the example of the Dharavi Redevelopment Scheme where slumdwellers were first promised bigger homes and then the FSI was increased in a way that the developers too get to construct more flats for selling in the open market.

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Poor planning keeps millions in India’s slums

Millions of Indians are forced to live in squalid slums, not because they are impoverished, but because city planners have failed to build low-cost alternatives, a government report said Tuesday, warning the problem was getting worse.

As India’s economy has boomed in recent years, India’s predominantly rural population has flocked to the cities hoping to get a slice of the growing prosperity. A massive shortage of affordable housing has left many no choice but to live in makeshift tenements with few _ if any _ basic utilities, according to the country’s first report on urban poverty.

Housing projects would provide residents properly constructed homes, linked to basic infrastructure like sewage, electricity and running water.

That kind of housing would be in sharp contrast to the slums that dot most major India cities, with their endless warrens of small houses and shops built of corrugated metal, cement and tarpaulins, public latrines and tangles of electric wiring, often illegally linked to the main power lines.

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India’s Demand on Nature Approaching Critical Limits, Report Finds

Copyrights Global Footprint Network Blog

As the world grapples with the escalating effects of the financial crisis, Global Footprint Network reported on another mounting – and unsecured – debt: a growing gap in India between the amount of natural resources the country uses and how much it has.

India now demands the biocapacity of two Indias to provide for its consumption and absorb its wastes, according to a report released by Global Footprint Network and CII (Confederation of Indian Industry). The report, India’s Ecological Footprint: A Business Perspective, was presented Monday in New Delhi to a conference that included top Indian environmental officials, leaders of Indian industry, U.S. State Department representatives and other stakeholders.

India’s Ecological Footprint – the amount of productive land and sea area required to produce the resources it consumes and absorb its waste – has doubled since 1961, according to the report. Today, the country’s total demand on biocapacity is exceeded only by the United States and China.

“India is depleting its ecological assets in support of its current economic boom and the growth of its population,” says Mr. Jamshyd N. Godrej, Chairman of the CII Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre. “This suggests that business and government intervention are needed to reverse this risky trend, and ensure a sustainable future in which India remains economically competitive and its people can live satisfying lives.”

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Green and intelligent

Through sustainable building systems that conserve environment and natural resources, developers look to offer the home buyer health, comfort and security in the long term.

By  Bijoy Ghosh


Green and intelligent buildings are fast becoming the norm as developers and buyers see concrete value in them.

Green buildings are about environment and natural resource conservation and creating an ambience that contributes to improved efficiency and human health. Intelligent buildings are about automation systems that bring in the precision of a modern factory into the office and home.

Whether it is the lights, water, electrical and electronic appliances or access to people and material — everything is automated enabling conservation and efficiency. In addition, automation brings in two invaluable features to a buyer — security and comfort.

Saluting key initiatives

It is these two concepts that the World Standards Day on October 14 brought together, under the theme ‘intelligent and sustainable buildings.’

It pays tribute to experts across the world that have, and are, collaborating within the three principal international standardisation organisations — the International Electrotechnical Commission, International Organisation for Standardisation, and the International Telecommunication Union.

These organisations develop voluntary international standards facilitating trade, spreading knowledge and disseminating technological advantages.

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Mumbai Metro rail project to earn carbon credits

The Mumbai Metro Rail project has been in the news for decades. However it is only very recently that it became a real project and is being executed. When completed it will alleviate a lot of the pressure on the local train systems.

Interestingly it will also earn carbon credits.

BL reported that, after Delhi metro rail, it’s the turn of the Mumbai Metro rail project to earn carbon credits. The project will generate 651,938 carbon credits between 2011 and 2020. At the current market price of about INR 1,320, the credits will generate revenue of INR 86.05 crore.

Mumbai Metro One Private Limited, the special purpose vehicle for the project, has submitted a detailed methodology report to the executive board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change seeking clean development mechanism registration for the project. [link]

Carbon credits are a key component of national and international emissions trading schemes that have been implemented to mitigate global warming. More about that on wikipedia.

How to build a green building without really trying

In a hard hitting and valid arguement Daniel Brook talks about Mukesh Ambani’s Antilla being billed as a Green Building by its American architects Perkins+Will.

The LEED rating system at best is a guideline and at worst is riddled with loopholes. This allows for architects like Perkins+Will to claim to design green buildings while in reality it is all a hogwash.

The rating system is designed for US standards and when implemented on Indian conditions and buildings, every project could bag the “green” tag.

Perkins+Will is not the only ones who ride the hype-mobile. Even reputed Indian architects like Karan Grover do the same. By understanding the system and finding the loopholes; Grover has the “distinction” of being the first architect with both a LEED Platinum Building and a LEED Platinum Commercial Interior project.

Even FXFowle who is designing the India towers at Charni Road in Mumbai are billing their project to be

within a sustainable network of green roofs and hanging gardens; creating a singular, extraordinary building that, when completed, will be the tallest and greenest – building in India. [link]

Green has become the buzzword of the latter half of this decade. And it helps to sell everything from food to apartments costing millions (in whatever currency).

And from what I read and see, India seems to be picking up the hype which has somehow started clearing out in the US, as the article below points out .

In a high-end Mumbai neighborhood, Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s personal high-rise, named Antilia, is under construction. When completed, the 24-story Ambani family home will include its own health club, terraced sky-gardens, and 50-seat screening room (the reclusive Ambani is reputed to be a huge Bollywood fan). Antilia also boasts three helipads and a 168-car garage. This may sound like transportation overkill, if not outright eco-terrorism, for a family of six. But despite its 38-to-1 car-to-person ratio, Antilia has been billed by its American architects as a “green building.” And under the leading standards for green architecture, the building will likely qualify.

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