Cities Infrastructure

India’s Vertical Quest


By Preeti Parashar / Indian Express

As the world’s tallest building, the 828-metreBurj Khalifa, alters the skyline of Dubai, other nations look on to join the race of tallest skyscrapers! Countries across the globe have been modifying their policies for developers and engineers to innovate and explore new designs. Where does India stand in this race? Do we have policies or guidelines that can make these skyscrapers a reality in India in the next ten years? The answers are still uncertain.

Given India’s low floor space index (FSI) policy—government regulations that allow specific number of building floors based on the land area, thus determining heights. India doesn’t have many skyscrapers (defined as buildings of over 24 m in height). As of now, except a 300-metre-high TV tower at Worli, Mumbai, India cannot boast of many tall buildings. Shreepati Arcade, constructed in 2002 is another tall building in the city with 45 floors and a height of 153 metres. Soon two residential towers in Mumbai—Imperial Towers (149 m) and India Tower (a hotel, 301 m)—will be completed.

Cities Infrastructure Technology

Entrepreneurship in Public Infrastructure

It is no surprise that India has a booming communication infrastructure when it comes to mobile phones. The early problems of under-capacity all seem to have vanished and thousands jump on the mobile bandwagon everyday.

However, the exact opposite happens with physical infrastructure, especially intra city transportation. Traffic in most cities is nightmarish and it has only gotten worse every year. Every once in a while, a grandiose foolish scheme like the Bandra Worli Sea Link come to fruition but its more to inflate the politicians ego than to solve the problem for the long term.

Sarah Lacy in an article on makes a compelling case for the entrepreneurial spirit in the mobile sector, with Bangalore as a case-study. 

I completely agree with her reading of the lack of physical infrastructure having something to do with the fact that the government is in charge.

Entrepreneurs: Start. This. Company. Now.

By Sarah Lacy / Washington Post /

Thursday, November 19, 2009 1:29 AM

BANGALORE, INDIA ¿ It?s almost as if Russian cell phone carrier MTS has bought the naming rights to Bangalore. I half expected my immigration stamp to read ?BANGALORE! ? BROUGHT TO YOU BY MTS.? The carrier recently launched service in the uber-competitive Indian telecom market and has erected billboards every twenty feet or so. I have never seen so much advertising by one company in one space. They all sport an agro looking dude with his face twisted in some rebel-yell while he does inscrutable things with robots and mechanical arms holding different tech gadgets.

Architects Cities Profession

The Enigma of Hafeez Contractor

Amongst all professionals, no one gets his peers as riled up as does Architect Hafeez Contractor. And the reasons are many. Be it is “chutzpah” early in his career to go where no architect wanted to go in terms of fees. Be it his complete mastery and hence exploitation of the archaic Building Bye-Laws. And surely his dated designs that have sadly given Bombay much of its current image.

Rahul Bhatia at Open Magazine tries to bring the persona of Hafeez to life. This is a perspective of a non-architect looking at what an architect is doing to the urban fabric of the city we stay in and we all love.

Bhatia creates a fine balance in trying to bring out the issues without getting into any of the bias that clouds most architectural arguements concering Hafeez. And daresay I even agree with Hafeez on this one point

Hafeez believes the only reason people object to taller buildings is that builders lobby for permissions to build them, which means someone, somewhere, is making a lot of money. “Can you believe that?” he exclaims. He wants Mumbai to be taller so that there’s room for its inhabitants.

Hafeez Contractor is India’s starchitect, whether architects like it or not. It. At this stage in his professional career Hafeez could do a lot more to improve the overall urban quality of the cities he practises in. His clout with the developer, politician and his understanding of architecture and design should allow him to push a better agenda for our cities. Exploiting loopholes in the law is not one of them.

Rahul Bhatia / Open Magazine.

Deconstructing Hafeez Contractor

In Hafeez Contractor’s factory, hundreds of architects and draftsmen sit elbow to elbow to churn out buildings. From morning to night, their sole purpose is to draft and design the innumerable rough sketches that originate from Hafeez, who has a good view of the office exit. As a result, employees do not attempt to leave before dinner. When a project is over they immediately begin work on the next. There are no milestones, only more buildings to make. People here do not linger. They have been taught to respect time. The act of endless production has stripped them of most ideologies, bar one: the client’s happiness comes above all else. Here, the architect is as the dictionary defines him: a person who designs buildings. This is not about form follows function, or less is more, or envisioning habitats. The factory’s patrons know the worth of a buck, and they do not care much for architecture as art. Which is why they come here. They like their costs minimised, and design amplified.

Architects Cities Design

Kings of Xeroxia


It is no secret that a lot of contemporary architecture in India is a recycled pastiche of western historical styles. Many feel that its a result of the Western colonization of India that ended only 60+ years ago. And brought about the strong undercurrent of Western influences.

Shruti Ravindran at Outlook India writes a very interesting article of how a lot of architecture today is a photocopy (“Xerox”) of buildings and monuments that are from another civilization in another part of the world and dont even belong in the previous millenium, leave alone century. She poses a very valid question today

“Why are we still emulating colonial structures? Where are our starchitects??”

Contextualism seems to be a “foreign” word to man

y architects who ape Greek and Roman architecture that even the Greeks and Romans of today dont follow. Some places would make Asterix and Obelix feel at home if they landed up in India today.

Kings of Xeroxia

By Shruti Ravindran / Outlook India [ link to article]

Critic’s View

  • Greek architecture is an absurd reference for contemporary India Still, why Greek?
  • This structure belongs in a filmset, not a place of learning
  • Using an ancient kit of parts—a touch of the Parthenon here, a dab of Capitol Hill there—how is this a building for our times?
  • Students will feel dwarfed here This is not sustainable and out of sync with Infosys’s character, based on the ideals of knowledge economy .


  • Mr Murthy wanted something that looked like the universities abroad
  • Greek classical architecture lasted for centuries as will this institution
  • The plaza, the crescent shape, the musical fountain: everything about the building shows the transformative power of education
  • It’ll inculcate a sense of pride in them We have all the green gizmos. This building saves 60 per cent of energy as compared to others.

This September, two supposed marvels of institutional architecture were unveiled before the public. The first, in honour of the fast-approaching Commonwealth Games, was a Lutyens-style makeover—large white pillars and incongruous purple-black glass—for the Ajmeri Gate side of New Delhi railway station. The second was the spanking-new addition to the Infosys Mysore campus: the classical Greek architecture-inspired Global Education Centre-2 (GEC-2).

Cities Legislation

Bandra Kurla Complex Height Restriction Raised to 73 Meters

A mini Manhattan at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) has been the dream of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Now, almost two years after it doubled the developable floor space index (FSI) from 2 to 4 at the BKC, the MMRDA can hope to live that dream.

The Union ministry of civil aviation has started easing height restrictions on buildings at the BKC, one of the costliest business districts in the city. The first to get its nod was the seven-star Hotel Accor. Recently, the ministry also granted permission to Wadhwa Developers and Parini Developers to construct 73-metre tall(or up to 16-storey) buildings. Currently, the tallest buildings at the BKC — Platina, Naman Centre and two commercial buildings by Tata and Raheja developers — stand at 52 metres (or up to 12 storeys) each.

The ministry was opposed to the idea of highrises at the BKC as a major portion of it comes within the flight path of aeroplanes taking off from the Santa Cruz (domestic) and Sahar (international) airports. It has not eased the height restriction on all buildings; it has started considering cases individually.

The MMRDA, however, is not happy. It wants every building at the BKC to be allowed to rise "not just 73 metres, but 90 metres".

MMRDA commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad said, "We are hoping that the aviation ministry will allow the building height to be raised to 90 metres. It will give a big boost to the property market."

Top corporate houses, such as Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries, ING Vysya Bank, Raghuleela Leasing and Real Estate Pvt Ltd, Starlite Systems Pvt Ltd, Satnam Realtors, Parini Developers Pvt Ltd, Shri Naman Developers Pvt Ltd, Oriental Bank of Commerce and State Bank of India, have purchased additional FSIs.


Indian Cities Today: Cultural Desert of Tomorrow?

Akshay Chavan writes

Indian cities attempt to ape all the bad things about their western counterparts but none of their good things. What is striking about Indian cities is complete lack of public libraries or public parks. Unlike in the west, those who cannot afford to buy books have no access to them, and those can afford, do not want to buy books. Do we want to raise a generation which if completely cut off from books and literature? If want to ape the mall culture of the west, why can’t we ape its public library culture too? What about museums or art galleries?

In the west, every small town worth its salt has a museum, or a local cultural centre which services as a meeting point of the local community. These community centers serve a incubators of talent. A place where neighbors can meet, organize plays, listen to music etc. Do our cities have any such community cultural centers? Perhaps, museums and art galleries are very high brow but what about basic study centers, where children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds can come to study as they don’t get the right environment to study. We wish to have shopping malls like London and New York, then why don’t we want public parks like Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York.

Continue reading here.

Environment and Climate News Sustainability

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.

Architecture Public Realm

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.

Education News

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’.

Architects Architecture 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.