Monthly Archives: October 2009

GRIHA: India’s Answer to LEED

Evaluation is necessary to ascertain how green a building is. Apart from verifying claims, such systems ensure that best practices are followed and the gains made are quantified. GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment), the green rating system developed by The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), is promoted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) as the National rating system.

By Anupama Mohanram / The Hindu

Not only has GRIHA evaluated and incorporated most of the green building criteria originally developed by LEED, a green building rating system that was developed in the US and adopted by the Indian Green Building Council in 2001, it has also added further requirements to make the system more suitable to the Indian building context. In addition, MNRE has made it mandatory for buildings to obtain a GRIHA rating to avail subsidies and other financial assistance allocated for green development. The Ministry also provides incentives to local bodies that offer rebate in property tax for GRIHA rated buildings.

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When style was substance: Mumbai in the 1930s

Urban housing these days has increasingly become a matter of “lifestyle.”

By Ashoak Upadhyay / Business Line

Builders do not erect an apartment block or two; they build cities within cities; rows upon rows of residential towers peppered with landscaped gardens, swimming pool, jogging track and clubhouse. The customer does not come home simply to four walls enclosing space; he enters arcadia.

But what about the house itself? Can the artifice of landscaped gardens and swimming pools built on the graveyards of mangrove swamps and nature’s waterways compensate for the banality of mass housing architecture? The dreariness of Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade high-rises is matched by the lifelessness uniformity of building facades or interior layouts in the newer colonies at Powai and Andheri.

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Building with a heart: Anne Feenstra Exhibition

Every edifice should speak the language of its country, says Anne Feenstra, displaying friendly buildings at an exhibition in New Delhi

By Shailaja Tripathi / The Hindu

30dfr_Visitor_jpg_10106f Three different structures by three different architects in three totally different countries and settings… but what binds them is their innate connection with the human beings who not only reside in them but also around them. Disappointed by the number of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings that lack a distinct identity of their own, Dutch architect Anne Feenstra brings us glimpses of these unique structures to inspire, sensitise and spread awareness, in the photo-exhibition ‘Architecture for Humanity’.

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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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Bureaucracy and other spanners in India’s works

By DAVID LASCELLES / Business Day

THE world has become so accustomed to labelling India as one of the world’s great engines of growth — alongside China — that it comes as a bit of a shock to discover that the reality is a little less dazzling.

Concrete and chaos are the best words to describe India today, as I discovered from a visit earlier this month. The concrete is the building activity you see everywhere, the chaos is the sense you quickly get that things are barely under control.

A typical Indian scene is a large construction site, cement mixers grinding and cranes toiling, while sacred cows munch the grass alongside and a torrent of battered cars, rickshaws and filthy trucks crashes by on the pitted roads. The air is full of noise and grit, but out of it will rise the gleaming headquarters of some new Indian corporate giant.

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Indian Maze Complicates Building of a Global Stage

By Jim Yardley / NYTimes.com

Manpreet Romana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images The roof of the city’s new domestic airport terminal partly collapsed in August. A Metro commuter train derailed the same month, and then a second Metro train derailed in September. The city’s roads are so pockmarked with bathtub-size potholes that newspapers feature regular photo essays of the most egregiously epic offenders.

Summer had already brought a litany of infrastructure travails in New Delhi, and then Michael Fennell, chairman of the Commonwealth Games, came to town. His task was to inspect the progress of stadiums, bridges and roads as New Delhi prepares to host in October 2010 the athletic competition between nations and territories of the former British Empire, the first major international sporting event in the city in 27 years.

Indian leaders, mindful of how the Olympics elevated Beijing’s international profile in 2008, had hoped that the Commonwealth Games would establish New Delhi as a sporting capital, burnish India’s reputation as an emerging, modern power and, perhaps, position the country to bid for the 2024 Olympics. Except that Mr. Fennell concluded that New Delhi was lagging far behind schedule on construction projects and criticized organizers for a “lack of preparations,” even calling for direct intervention from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Recriminations swept through the local news media about New Delhi’s inability to get it done.

India has never enjoyed a reputation for bureaucratic efficiency, and the controversy over the Commonwealth Games has placed an international spotlight on the familiar local problem of ineffective governing. New Delhi presents an especially vivid portrait of the shortcomings of Indian bureaucracy because the city of more than 16 million people is not overseen by one governmental body but several. As a result, coordinating even minor projects, much less a major sporting event, is often undercut by inefficiency and a lack of bureaucratic cooperation.

The city’s government flow chart is a bureaucratic maze. Because New Delhi is the national capital, its land and police are controlled by the national government. The New Delhi state government (a misleading title since New Delhi is not a state) has governing authority over the city, though a different governmental body, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, or M.C.D., handles issues like roads, sewage and local taxation.

Meanwhile, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, a federal entity known as the N.D.M.C., governs Lutyen’s Delhi, so named for the British architect who designed what is now the city’s leafy center of government. And do not forget the Delhi Cantonment Board, or D.C.B., which has authority over military land, or the Delhi Development Authority, or D.D.A., another federal entity with oversight over, yes, development.

Partha Mukhopadhyay, a scholar at the Center for Policy Research, a leading policy research organization in New Delhi, said the arrangement could complicate even basic improvement projects. The state government, for example, has authority over water while the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has authority over roads, meaning that merely installing underground water pipes can require interagency cooperation.

Often the job gets done poorly, if at all.

“In terms of governance, the city is just completely messed up,” said Mr. Mukhopadhyay, whose specialties include urban affairs.

Most city residents factor civic inefficiencies into their daily lives. Power failures are so common that many people buy backup generators for their homes. Water service can be so bad that wealthier people keep storage tanks atop their homes, while the poor wait for water trucks to refill their buckets. Public expectations for efficient government are fairly low, but hosting an international sporting event is a different matter.

“The Commonwealth Games present a problem because the work actually has to get done,” Mr. Mukhopadhyay said. “There are hard deadlines.”

The controversy finally brought action from Palaniappan Chidambaram, the home minister. Mr. Chidambaram, the federal government’s point man on New Delhi, has called on Delhi residents to improve their manners and curb spitting and public urination. Earlier this month, he ordered that the municipal government be placed under the direct authority of Sheila Dikshit, chief minister of the state government. The move, which has not yet been carried out, infuriated the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., because the new arrangement would place the B.J.P.-dominated municipal government under the thumb of the Congress Party’s state government.

Not everyone blames the city’s convoluted governmental architecture for bad governing. Arvind Kejriwal, an advocate for greater government accountability, blames inadequate public oversight of elected officials for shoddy public infrastructure and graft. Mr. Kejriwal said the system had too few outlets, like public hearings, to hold local governments accountable.

“The people have absolutely no say in day-to-day governance,” said Mr. Kejriwal, who runs a nonprofit anticorruption group, Parivartan.

New Delhi last hosted an international sports competition in 1982 when it welcomed the Asian Games. At the time, the construction effort was led by Jagmohan, then acting as the city’s lieutenant governor (another seat of authority). Mr. Jagmohan, who uses only one name, said practical issues like problems with sites or other concerns often trumped any institutional problems. He said the pressure of a deadline would be likely to focus government attention.

“The government’s prestige is on the line,” he said. “They will put their best foot forward.”

One recent afternoon at the site of the planned swimming stadium, workers were still installing the tall concrete pillars that form the exterior skeleton of the arena. With the project months behind schedule, an administrator, who asked not to be named, said work had been slowed by unexpected excavation problems, among other things. But he said three shifts were now working round-the-clock after a top sports official came to the work site and gave everyone a tongue-lashing.

“It will be finished,” the engineer promised.

Hari Kumar contributed reporting.

Sustainable Styles: Indian Architecture ?

How sustainable is your style?

Can you look at a building and tell if it’s green? Sometimes, appearances can be deceptive. We clue you in on what really makes a building environment-friendly

By Himanshu Burte / LiveMint

Sustainability is the buzzword. Every manner of building makes a claim to “greenness” today. While there are various ways of judging how green a building is, we often assume its look also offers a clue.

stein This seems reasonable. If a building is made largely of a material that consumes less energy and produces fewer emissions, the building is likely to be greener than others. Buildings that expose stone, brick or a wood skeleton consume less cement because they are not plastered. Also, if this material is local, little energy is consumed in transportation. So can there actually be a green look for a building?

That depends on how the question is phrased. We may ask, “Can we judge how sustainable a building is from its looks?” Or “Are there some aesthetic values that lead to more sustainable architecture?”

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Council of Architecture India under investigation

Termites In The Woodwork

The government has accused top officers at the COA, India’s apex architectural body, of criminal misconduct. BRIJESH PANDEY tracks the issues as the CBI investigates

IN A move that could change the face of the study and practice of architecture in India, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) has recommended a CBI probe against the president, registrar and four members of the executive committee of the Council of Architecture (COA). The COA is a regulatory body constituted by the Architects Act of 1972, which accredits and licenses educational institutions to teach architecture in India. Moreover, every architect working in India has to be registered with the COA.

In a letter to the CBI dated August 27, 2009 (DO No. C-1301168/2009-Vig) — from the Joint Secretary and Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of the MHRD, Sunil Kumar — requested the investigation of six top officials of the COA, namely, the President, Vijay Sohoni, the Registrar, Vinod Kumar and four members of the Executive Committee: KB Mohapatra, Uday C Godkari, IJS Bakhsi and Prakash Deshmukh. In the letter (a copy of which is with TEHELKA) the Joint Secretary alleges that:

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