Cities Environment and Climate Master Plan

Height Restrictions Removed: A Boom for Skyscrapers ?

Scorpiogenius makes a compelling arguement for “Taller, Greener, Better”.

The Civil Aviation Ministry and the Airport Authority of India have trimmed down the height restrictions for constructions around our airports. This allows for buildings to sprout higher into the skies above our cities, almost double to what was permitted until yesterday.

I expect Kerala to significantly make use of this waive in the existing law. Kerala has been the only state outside the megapolis Mumbai, and to a lesser extent Gurgaon, to embrace the highrise culture. The trend which was kicked off in Cochin in the early 90s slowly spread to even the smaller Municipal towns of the state. Its become a fashion statement with even towns like Thiruvalla and Kottayam with just over 1 lakh population hosting 20+ structures.

Even though it may take some time for our local self Govts to adapt themselves to the law, it is certain that the Architects and builders would be licking their lips to make full use of it. Kerala is only second to West Bengal in population density; with 35 million inhabitants @ 825/sq km and severe scarcity of de-notified habitable land, it is common sense to understand that this model of urban development suits us best.

I’m a sucker for tallies, yo! I admire the style of urban development followed in North America and Australia which plots a highrise CBD, with suburbs harbouring midrises and housing estates. Each suburb is planned to be self-sufficient on its own for their shopping and entertainment needs, with residents travelling to city-center only for business and work. The CBD builds and rebuilds itself with major improvements necessary only in the transportation network.

Continue reading at Scorpiogenius.

Architecture Cities Heritage Landscape

Moshe Safdie to under take beautification of Golden Temple surroundings

CHANDIGARH: Internationally acclaimed US based architect Moshe Safdie, who had successfully accomplished the most prestigious project of Khalsa Heritage Centre (KHC), Sri Anandpur Sahib would soon undertake the beautification of the surroundings of Golden Temple (Sri Harimandir Sahib) along with the corridor project (Galiara) around the holy Golden Temple at Amritsar.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high level meeting by the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with the delegation of architects led by Safdie here at Chief Minister’s residence this morning. Safdie informed the Chief Minister that he would make a detailed presentation on the concept and lay out plan to under take the beautification of the surroundings of Sri Harimandir Sahib from historic Jallianwala Bagh Complex to the temple site shortly. He said that the existing approved plan of the beautification of corridor project around Golden Temple would also be an integral part of this composite plan. Safdie pointed out that since the Golden Temple was one of the most sacred amongst the religious places of the world where people of all faiths across the globe converge to pay obeisance and offer prayers, was also the most preferred destination of religious tourism. Safdie also informed that he would also utilize the services of world renowned Lebanese landscape Architect Vladimir Djurovic for planting rare species of trees and shrubs which would be brought from the different part of world to accentuate its mystic aura and serenity.

Cities Master Plan News Social Responsibility

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.

Art Cities

Celebrating Bombay’s Art Deco: Rahul Mehrotra in Conversation

rahul_mehrotra Rahul Mehrotra, an architect, conservator and an urban planner has been at the forefront of his generation in several important conservation projects such as in the Mumbai Kala Ghoda area as well as the Chowmalla palace complex at Hyderabad amongst o thers. His practice conceives/conceptualises projects from urban housing, commercial spaces and unusual projects like elephant stables and mahout residences for the Rajasthan Government. Mehrotra also designs spaces for activist groups in rural and urban India. Recently in Chennai tolaunch “Bombay Deco” in collaboration with Sharada Diwedi, Mehrotra speaks on his works, conservation and his teaching practice at MIT in the US.

Can you tell me the different reactions you have had to your latest collaborative book “Bombay Deco”?

The most interesting reactions have been from people in the city who are in their 60s and 70s – the generation that grew up in this environment of the art deco buildings in Mumbai! They are not only nostalgic about what they see in the book but also very appreciative of the interpretations and historic perspective on what they took for granted as the landscape they grew up with. For others in the city, they seem to appreciate that fact that so much they don’t notice in their everyday comings and goings has been pointed out

Cities Infrastructure Master Plan Urban Transportation

Wadala Tower and Interstate Bus Terminal to be India’s Tallest Building.

Work on the Rs 4,000-crore, 531-mt tall iconic tower to come up at Wadala is slated to start in October. It will be the world’s seventh

tallest structure with a built-up area of 60,000 lakh sq ft, the largest among such buildings in the world.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad, said permissions should be ready shortly for the project. "The building will generate Rs 2,000 crore in revenue through rent, which will go towards other development projects in the region,” said Gaikwad.

Cities Legislation Master Plan

MMRDA Priorities Lopsided

By Nauzar Bharucha for the TNN

Is the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) suffering from hubris? Its plan to set up a 101-storey iconic commercial tower in Wadala at a phenomenal cost of over Rs 4,000 crore has raised serious questions about its sense of priority among urban experts and town planners. It has already been touted as one of the 10 tallest buildings in the world.

MMRDA’s think-tank has estimated that the project will earn it a rent of Rs 1,800 crore a year by leasing out 60 lakh sq ft of build up space in the tower to corporates and MNCs. But with recent estimates showing that Mumbai is expected to be flooded with over two crore sq ft of office space by 2011, real estate experts are skeptical about the financial feasibility of MMRDA’s iconic tower.

As it is, office space is going abegging with the numero uno central business district of Nariman Point currently staring at a vacancy level of 10% to 15%. Commercial lease rentals have already crashed by 25% to 50% in different commercial enclaves of the city. And the situation is expected to worsen with excessive supply of office space flooding the market in the next two years.

Architecture Art Cities

Concrete Masterworks: New Delhi

Rrishi Raote / Business Standard / New Delhi 

Few speak of Delhi’s architectural heritage beyond what the sultans, badshahs and British built. Architect Rahul Khanna and photographer Manav Parhawk set out to challenge this paradigm, as Khanna tells Rrishi Raote. Many of the 47 masterpieces of Delhi’s modern architecture they describe in this slim handbook are institutional buildings and embassies, but there are also homes, places of worship, and memorials…

You write that Delhi has architecture but no architectural culture. What do you mean?
By that we mean that there is no platform to debate architecture, to understand or appreciate it. When all these magazines were covering 60 years of Independence, there was not a single mention of architecture. There is all this money in art now, which is why there are so many forums on Indian art, but architecture, despite it being the very surroundings of our lives, is ignored.

The work of a handful of architects appears several times each. Why is that?
Many architects seem to be more prolific than others. During the post-Independence building boom, architects close to Nehru, like Habib Rahman and Mansingh Rana, got many commissions. Later, Raj Rewal seemed to be getting many, also perhaps because he was close to government decision-makers and those who commission public buildings. I could be wrong, but thankfully they were great architects.

Cities Public Realm

Messy Urbanism: India

By Viren Brahmbhatt

Viren Brahmbhatt is a New York-based architect and urban designer. He teaches at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, and is the author of the forthcoming book Architecture of Disjuncture.


Like other megacities, the large cities of India are grappling with the conflicting logic of globalization and localization. As new networks of global trade and finance create new opportunities, developer-friendly architecture and planning are appropriating contemporary discourses, and producing urban forms hitherto unknown. Globalization and its influence are thus transforming the city as physical, social, and cultural boundaries are being renegotiated.

On the one hand, India’s booming economy has fueled a euphoric decade of development, embraced by a new generation of architects bent on transforming the traditional dynamics of practice. At the same time, the nation is plagued by a one-size-fits-all architecture created by globetrotting architects and multinational players who are more focused on singular objects and signature buildings. A land of dazzling opportunities and paradoxes; a paradise of manufactured faux cities for the nouveaux riches and a hell for slumdogs: such is the predicament of India.

Cities Master Plan

Megacities Threaten to Choke India


LUCKNOW, India — Voting is drawing to a close Wednesday in India’s largest election ever, and a slowing economy, terrorism and the rural poor have been front and center in the campaign. But of growing concern are the country’s teeming new megacities, which are swelling rapidly even as jobs dry up and funding for infrastructure disappears.

This capital of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh was once an orderly place known for its baroque monuments and lush gardens. Today, Lucknow has more than 780 slums, overflowing sewage pipes and streets choked by gridlock. Its population of 2.7 million, nearly triple the number in the 1980s, is adding as many as 150,000 new residents a year.

Shami Shafi, a 35-year-old laborer in Lucknow, has seen his daily income drop by half in recent months to 50 rupees, or about $1, for carrying bags of potatoes and other goods in a local market. But "I’m not going back to my village," he says. If work gets harder to find, "I’ll just go to another city."

Architects Architecture Cities Events News Profession Public Realm

Notes from the Emerging Architecture of India Conference in New York City

The Emerging Exchanges: New Architectute of India conference was held last Thursday and Friday at the New School Campus here in NYC. Jointly hosted by the New School, India China Institute, and The Architecture League it brought together a great mix of practitioners from India.

Thursday’s first session was an introduction to the theme. Kazi Ashraf gave an overview of the current state of Indian architecture which was basically paraphrasing his article for the “Made In India” AD Issue of 2007. In showing a lot of proposals for projects he tried to cover ground about the typologies of emergent Indian architecture. However as Rahul Mehrotra pointed out later in the conference, most of them were just proposals and never ever left the drawing board. And sadly this would be a constant criticism of the conference over the next two days. More of that later in the article.

Some of the outstanding presentations were: