Sustainable Design Concepts

Harsh BhutaniHARSH BHUTANI, Managing Director, ED&P Group (JV partner to A49 in India), shares insights on architectural design trends in India.

India, today is witnessing a paradigm shift - technology has positively affected our lives and has made a breathtaking change. India is one of the world’s largest democracies and its continuous growth despite the global meltdown has put money into the hands of the middle class youth who are now experiencing a lifestyle their parents had only dreamt of. A well planned and technologically advanced designed space is now well within their grasp and its being re?ected in the growing construction industry. Hence, design flexibility that allows any configuration as per client’s requirements is hugely popular with consumers.



Architectural design as a discipline aims at solving problems or enhancing lives of end users worldwide. End users today are very demanding and have many expectations from brands, which, if not complied with, have a possibility of going into oblivion in a short period. It also has to be functionally and financially viable to appeal to a wide range of users. Design, therefore, is a combination of using a creative solution and channelising it in the right direction to obtain the optimum output.

The historical aspect of architectural design is almost incomplete without a reference to the grand architecture that the nation fashioned from the times of the Rajahs and till today, Indian arts and crafts have embellished plush luxurious homes around the world. Conventional approach to design development, poor availability of technology, high cost of development as well as inadequate involvement of key stakeholders - to ensure continuity of the process of innovation - are the factors that impede design innovation.

However, several factors like talent, technological expertise, focus on innovation, ability to optimise development and acute understanding of customers' needs can enable India to become the global design hub. Right mix of people and resources coupled with a willingness to adopt innovation and technological advancements, making it a part of the development eco-system, barriers in design services can definitely be overcome. Architecture is an all-encompassing applied art form that encompasses art, inspiration, science, technology, finance. Building architecture, more than any other form of art, touches our everyday lives. It defines the way we live, the way we work, the way we play. With the growing Indian economy and the growing awareness of the Indian clientele (i.e.: individuals/businesses/ corporates) to the international lifestyles, work styles, design trends, need for global design services is becoming necessary.


Technological understanding

There is a need to extend technological understanding of sustainable architecture to incorporate the socio-cultural aspects in production of properties. Low cost technologies like mud architecture are being developed which do not fit in with the aspirations of the upwardly mobile urban population. Technology is thus seen as the only means of addressing environmental degradation. Technology dependent green buildings have contributed in raising awareness and stimulating debate about sustainable architecture. These buildings have 10-25 per cent higher initial investment than traditional constructions. High initial costs and therefore dependence on corporate or government patronage has also restricted the adoption of this type of architecture to institutional building types with a few isolated exceptions of suburban residences.


Urban living

Sustainable architecture in India needs to account for the changing social and environmental conditions because rapid population growth, modernisation and urbanisation have directly impacted the environment. Nearly 30 per cent of India’s population lives in urban areas that population is estimated to increase to 50 per cent in the next fifteen years. It is impossible to solve the problem of sustainable architecture without addressing the issue of urban living. The growing urban population with its changing lifestyle is straining the supply of natural resources. The post industrialist, capitalist nature of society that India is fast acquiring is one of the main sources of environmental degradation. The elite and the middle class consumption patterns resemble those of developed countries. This attitude affects the environment as the use or abuse of nature in a society is directly related to its social structure, its technological capabilities and its worldviews.

Crucial today is finding appropriate sustainable urban, industrial and rural models for the Indian subcontinent – not something imported from the industrialised nations, not exclusively dependent on globalisation, but those that render themselves suitable for our lifestyles – sustainable, socially and culturally engaged, alive! Master plans for the cities must be master plans for the environment, with all our material requirements as a subset of the larger environmental vision. Architects, designers, urbanites and planners need to engage in order to institute a stance to consolidate our position as global Indians today; Thoughts, methodologies, and processes need to be exchanged and discussed to generate a vision for our cities