Cities Public Realm Real Estate

My Building Tallest

The late 90’s and the first decade of the 21st century can be rightly called the glory years of the Skyscraper Race. Countries tried to outdo each other in claiming the tallest skyscraper status. Before this boom, the Sears Towers in Chicago, USA held the claim for nearly 3 decades.

All that went for a toss as Asian countries caught on to this craze. The Petronas became the tallest building for a few years, only to be eclipsed by Taipei 101 in Taiwan. And then came the big kahuna of tall buildings, the Burj Khalifa.

And this is just the race for the top position. Change it to the top ten and there are dozens of buildings all across Asia, North America, and Russia that try to reach for the skies.

In all this, India is prominently absent.

Monika Halan writes a very well-laid out article titled: Reaching for the Sky: How Tall is my country.

She concludes

… it does not look as if India or Indians are unduly worried about failing on another parameter of global ranking. The lack of interest or even public debate on getting India on the tall building map could mean several things. One, we are not at the stage of economic growth where having the tallest building becomes something to think about. Two, there is no massive speculative real estate bubble in the country and cheap money is certainly not an issue. Three, the argumentative Indian does not need the prop of an icon of American culture to define India’s identity or its place in the world. Or it could just be that we are so sure that a fire in the tallest building will end in disaster with the fire engines (that can reach all of 10 storeys) stuck in a traffic jam caused by a broken-down cycle on the main road. Nope, we don’t even want to go that way.

Tall buildings serve their purpose in urban areas. Contrary to popular thinking they can be more sustainable in all aspects than their height challenged counterparts. And if India takes that road and goes tall, all power to the builders. But if its just to get bragging rights, then its a waste of time, money and opportunity.

Cities Infrastructure Real Estate

The Mumbai CBD Exodus

The following news article about the impending exodus of finance powerhouses from Nariman Point, the CBD of Mumbai; is not surprising. Infact, some would wonder why it took so long.

Since the 90’s we have had proclamations from politicians wanting to make Mumbai the next  Shanghai, Singapore or Dubai; depending on the flavor of the month.

What most people dont realize is that Nariman Point is over 40 years old in the present form. And its buildings are crumbling or in poor shape. And the rents are double that of Midtown Manhattan.

Infrastructure wise, its not as bad as other parts of Mumbai. However it would serve some owners well to demolish and build more efficient buildings, in terms of space, design and sustainability. Then the sky-high rents are justified.

Inevitably it may happen. As more and more businesses move away, owners might do just that. I’d rather they be proctive about it, than doing it as a reaction to market forces alone.

UBS, JP Morgan lead Nariman Point exodus

By Pooja Thakur, for Bloomberg

MUMBAI: UBS AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are leading an exodus of finance companies from Mumbai’s Nariman Point financial district as they balk at paying double midtown-Manhattan rents for crumbling four-decade-old buildings.

UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, moved to a new complex on the site of a drive-in cinema about nine miles north. JPMorgan, the second-biggest US lender, shifted to an adjacent suburb, while private-equity firm KKR & Co. went about three miles north of Nariman Point. Axis Bank and broker Motilal Oswal Financial Services are moving in the next year.

Cities Real Estate

High-End Housing Booming Again

The world economic slump did not affect India as severely as it did other nations. And hence India is quicker on the upswing as things begin to move positive.

Real estate is one marker on the state of the economy. And in the case of Mumbai it looks like the already inflated market is going even higher.

On the back of a revival in demand, real estate developers are again building super luxury apartments, say experts.

Consultancy firms Jones Lang Lasalle Meghraj (JLLM) and Knight Frank India said there are about 7,000 such apartments to be delivered within a year in Mumbai alone, where the cost is not below Rs4.7 crore for a single unit.

“After the recession got over, real estate developers are back building high-end super luxury projects because there is good demand for such projects. At the same time, margins are also higher in these projects,” JLLM country head and chairman Anuj Puri told PTI. [ link to article ]

Are real estate prices in Mumbai really sustainable in the long run ?

Environment and Climate Real Estate

Green Retail Coming to India

The Tatas, through their subsidiary Tata International is set to launch a series of retails stores that will comply with the USGBC LEED Rating.

The official press release:

is set to foray in Indian market its first set of Green stores, designed and planned on LEED pricipals and certification from USGBC. Designed by JGA, a Detroit based leading Retail design firm along with FRDC (Future Research Design Company), Bangalore, the stores will consume 40% less energy and will generate 15-20% power from Solar energy. All materials used in the store are made of high content of Recyclable material and everything will be procured from within 500 Km of radius of the store.

Store will demonstrate a high degree of local skills usage and crafts intervention and thus providing opportunities to local craftsmen and the Industry. All process and fabrication work of the store will be monitored by Green team constituted by the Architects and Associate team from FRDC Bangalore and Delhi. All waste generated during the construction shall be either reused in the store or shall be supplied to Recycle dealers.

However there is no indication of what kind of retail these shops will cater to. And what remains to be questioned is why use the USGBC rating when there is an IGBC rating system in place.

The strategies outlined tend towards mechanical solutions to issues. What remains to be seen is if there is a larger design solution to the sustainability strategy.

Environment and Climate Real Estate Social Responsibility

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.

Environment and Climate Real Estate

Mumbai leads the way in Green projects

Where builders regularly flout environment rules for profit, it’s hard to believe that Mumbai is becoming an eco-friendly city. But it is true. Of the 259 buildings in the country that are waiting to get accredited as green buildings, more than 70 are from Mumbai. Five of them have already received accreditation.

A green building is one that’s made of eco-friendly construction material. It makes use of natural light and air, and has provisions for recycling of wastewater and harvesting of rainwater. Such buildings are constructed with fly-ash cement, which is strong and more eco-friendly than regular cement.

According to the Indian Council for Green Building, Chennai follows Mumbai in the list of cities waiting for accreditation of green buildings. “Green buildings are the need of the hour. We must take a note of these buildings before it’s too late,” said a spokesperson.
Two international real-estate seminars meant for green buildings are scheduled this week.

Abhinandan Lodha of the Lodha Group, which is currently constructing a commercial green building at Kanjurmarg, also believes that green buildings are necessary. “Green building will save the city and conserve energy. Most commercial projects that are coming up in the city are being built on green building concepts,” said Lodha.
Experts from the real estate industry too agree with Lodha. “Every construction should be based on green building concepts. Builders can contribute something to the city that has given them everything,” said Ajay Chaturvedi, a real estate expert.

Original article here

Cities Housing Real Estate

Mumbai: Affordable Housing 100 km. Away

In a recent article the Mid-Day talks about how affordable housing is now at least 100 km away from the city center. According to developers, these are the places where one can find affordable housing which is in the 1500-3000 Rs per sq.ft. bracket. From reading the article below, I wonder if this is another ploy by the developers to push their products now that they have bought the land and are ready to exploit it in these far flung suburbs.


There’s more bad news if you plan to buy that dream house in the city. Prominent builders in the city, who attended the FICCI real estate summit on Thursday, said the common man can now afford a house only more
than 100 km outside the city.

Most of the builders stressed that one has to consider options as far as Karjat and Kasara to buy a flat within one’s means. Mohan Deshmukh, former president of the Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry, said, “In the current scenario, if one has to find an affordable house, he has to go at least 100 km away from the city. There aren’t many affordable houses in the city.” The builders defined affordable housing as anything between Rs 1,500 per sq ft and Rs 3,000 per sq ft.

Cities Real Estate

Mumbai Urban Overhaul: Sky’s The Limit

The TOI reports

In a ruling that could change the face of Mumbai, the Supreme Court has cleared the way for pulling down more than 16,000 pre-1940 buildings — including chawls — that have become dilapidated, and constructing modern high-rises in their places. The ruling has devised a win-win formula according to which people who occupied the old tenements will be given, free of cost, flats of the same size in brand new buildings. Other flats in the building can be sold by the builder, who has been allowed to make his money by relaxing the floor space index (FSI) to permit the construction of high-rises.


Cities Real Estate

Sabeer Bhatia to build sustainable Nano City in India


From SF Chronicle, written by Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sabeer Bhatia plans a 17.6-square-mile city of world-clas… Nano City, as shown in this architectural rendering

Nano City India

A few days after his 29th birthday, Sabeer Bhatia sold Hotmail, the company he co-founded, to Microsoft for $400 million. Selling the Web-based e-mail service bought him a swank Pacific Heights condo with a panoramic view, buzz as the next hot Silicon Valley player, boldfaced name recognition in the Indian press – and eventually, one incredibly unchallenging year off playing golf and jet-set partying.

He became haunted by the question common to those who find wild success at a preternaturally young age: Now what?

Granted, over the past decade, Bhatia has had his hand in several technology startups and post-startups both here and in India, some mildly successful, some not. But his latest project is one that comes from the heart: He is trying to develop an Indian version of Silicon Valley, a sustainable city spread over 11,000 acres in northern India that he envisions will be home to 1 million residents employed largely by world-class universities and A-list companies that act as the country’s idea generators. He calls it Nano City.

Infrastructure Real Estate Urban Transportation

No space for shops in most Bangalore Metro stations

By Zainab Bawa , 14 Aug 2008

It will not be a happy Independence Day for shopkeepers displaced by the Metro. The BMRCL has planned shop-less stations in key areas like Indiranagar, drowning the question of compensatory space for them.

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL)’s plan for shopping space inside the to-be-built metro stations is likely to leave many displaced traders stranded. Except two stations, one on M G Road and the other at Byapanahalli, and possibly a third — the Trinity Circle station, all other stations will not have shops inside, according to K Nagendra, Public Relations Officer at BMRCL.

Nagendra says that Metro stations which will have provisions for parking lots and integrated transport facilities will be the ones earmarked for inclusion of shops. The other stations are going to be basic.


Continue reading entire article here.