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 ?

Architects Profession

Architectural Licensing in India: Time to upgrade ?

Architects are licensed professionals. They pass out from accredited schools and colleges and after due paperwork are licensed to practise by the Council of Architecture, India. This is a government agency set up by an Act of Parliament.

In that respect, the new move by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority raises a few issues.

Architects, engineers and developers have strongly opposed the decision of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) making it compulsory to renew their registration and licences every year for projects within its limit.

According to them, the fiat issued this week is highly unwarranted and would not serve any purpose other than causing harassment and inconvenience to over 4,000 engineers and hundreds of builders, real estate developers.

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.


The Green Bandwagon

The word green these days is associated more with buildings than with plants and trees. It is the new mantra in everything from homes and buildings to the furnishings within it. In this editorial below, Sunita Narain takes a very simplistic view of a rather complex issue. However its a good primer for the non technical person to understand what sustainability is, in the real sense.

Green buildings: how to redesign

By Sunita Narain / Down To Earth

There is a buzz about green buildings. But the question is: what does one mean by building green? And how does one design policies to make the green homes of our dreams?

Green is not about first building structures using lots of material and energy, and then fixing them so that they become a little more efficient. Building green is about optimizing on the local ecology, using local material as far as possible and, most importantly, building to cut the power, water and material requirements.


Kanvinde: Function With Feeling

Achyut Kanvinde passed away in 2002. He was in his time one of the giants of Indian architecture. As the principal architect of CISR he designed a vast body of institutional work over the decades.

Kanvinde studies under Walter Gropius at Harvard in the Functionalist style of design.

Himanshu Burte writes an interesting overview of Kanvinde’s work and thought philosophy in this article title “ Function with Feeling ”.

Function with feeling

Himanshu Burte / Business Standard.

Schooled in the dry Functionalist approach to architecture, Achyut Kanvinde created spaces that were ‘humane’, buildings where you felt welcome and comfortable.Achyut Kanvinde (1916-2002) was among the earliest Functionalist architects in modern India. He was a self-effacing person, but his work helped shape some of the things we automatically expect in buildings today — that they should function efficiently, should not waste space, and be elegant too.


Tesco Sends Design Work to India

Architectural services being outsourced to India is not a new phenomenon. However it usually brings about a lot of negative press in the country from where it is being outsourced.

British retail giant Tesco is outsourcing preliminary design and surveying to architects in India. The article below in Building UK, raises concerns about lost opportunity and jobs.

As the world recovers from an economic slump, its comes as no surprise that corporations are moving tasks to countries that prove to be more cost effective.

Tesco sends design and QS work to India

By Sophie Griffiths / Building UK

Fears raised over future of UK supply chain as supermarket giant outsources early project work


Pune Gets a New Cricket Stadium

UK architect Michael Hopkins is set to design the new cricket stadium outside Pune. The stadium is touted as an IPL friendly stadium and in terms of facilities will surpass the best in the world.

I wonder what the fascination is with foreign architects. Anyways, Michael Hopkins claim to fame is the design of the new facilities at Lords, the mecca of cricket.


Here is a blurb from Hopkins website

The sloping site enjoys superb panoramic views. Rebalancing levels results in a bowl of terraced seating for spectators centred on the Match Ground, creating a "place" around which development can grow. Four stands sit over this terrace accessed via a wide pedestrian concourse, the gaps between not only providing views to the horizon but airflow and daylight. Upper levels include further seating for spectators, a Members’ Pavilion, hospitality boxes, and facilities for broadcasting and press. Parking is provided on surrounding land.

With cricket played November-May, the sun is often low. Membrane roofs provide shade and, together with the elegantly braced structure of the steel and concrete stands in this seismic zone, create a memorable form for the Stadium.

This stadium bears importance to the IPL with the recent announcement that Pune is one of the new IPL franchises for 2011.

Architects Education

Developers to Benefit from Foreign University Influx

One thing that differs vastly between Indian and American educational institutions is the infrastructure. Most American universities are huge campuses with dozens of academic, sports, facilities and housing buildings. In India however, this is usually not the case barring a few institutions.

Hence the news that foreign educational institutions are coming to India, means that it could be an interesting time for developers and architects.

It will be interesting to see if these foreign institutions bring in their own architects to plan and design campuses or will they hire local talent.

The article below dwells into this issue and brings up some interesting arguments.

Developers hope to benefit from foreign univs’ entry

It is niche developers like HCC and SEZ Sri City who see an opportunity by roping in big institutions

By Ranju Sarkar / Business Standard

Construction companies and real estate developers smell an opportunity when foreign universities are allowed to set up campuses in India. Last Monday, the Union Cabinet okayed the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill. Once cleared by the Parliament, it will enable foreign universities to do so.

Architects Architecture

Mario Botta in India

Swiss architect Mario Botta needs no introduction. His work around the world speaks volumes of the master architect. And his projects in India for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are a continuation of his excellence in the field.

Mario Botta: Swiss architect who designed TCS offices

By Ishani Duttagupta & Neha Dewan, ET Bureau

For well-known Swiss architect and urban designer Mario Botta, India has definitely been among the shaping influences of his style. “The past is very important for my work and so is the environment and climate of a place. All this translates into a modern architectural genre,” says Botta who has worked on various urban architecture projects around the world. The past, he says, makes up 95% of the current place in which we stay.


Is Chandigarh a model city?

I’ve followed Himanshu Burte’s writing for a while and had the opportunity to meet and talk to him in 2009 at the Indian Architecture conference at the New School in NYC.

He poses a very valid question about Chandigarh, India’s first planned city in the Modern era. As an architect I have always been enamoured by the city and on the few visits there, have found it to be so very different from most Indian cities. However that is the architect in me, that thinks so.

Many a resident of the city lament about the things that dont work and how the planning is just so alien.

Himanshu builds up a really good arguement for the city.

Is Chandigarh a model city?

Himanshu Burte / New Delhi 

The first early example of what we can call a “rational” city, Chandigarh can be either loved or hated. In the first of a series of articles on architecture and architects that have, for better or worse, influenced the way Indian cities look and behave, Himanshu Burte critically examines Corbusier’s Chandigarh