Building Typologies – Lost in Translation!
Authors Ar. GauravSanghavi, Director, Pentaspace Consultants Pvt. Ltd. Ar. Anmol Warang CEO, Pentaspace Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
The most important reason for the formation of amended development control regulations in 2012 and introduction of Fungible FSIhas been unidirectional – ‘stop rampant malpractice, while generating revenue for the MCGM’. It envisages a compact plan where all areas are included for the computation of Floor Space Index (FSI) and a cap is fixed so that there is no room to manipulate the rules to create excess non-habitable areas and overcharging consumers. Although it seems to have succeeded in its prima facie motive, conceptually the idea of fungible FSI should have been made flexible.
It has been theoretically suggested that with the new rules that effectively increased the totalFSI at 1.79 in the island city and 2.7 in the suburbs, Mumbai would witness reduced cost of housing; and given an FSI cap, it would usher in a certainrationalization as developers would need to invest in quality design offering maximum value to end-users.
To say that the amended DCR has only positives to offer is an extremely dangerous misnomer to believe in. Even though net FSI has increased, it does not necessarily increase the density or quantity of housing stock, which Mumbai needs desperately.
Furthermore, the amended rules have ensured that many building typologies become redundant and in some cases extinct. For high density housing schemes apart from slum redevelopment it’s the beginning of a slow but sure end. In many redevelopment projects earlier it was considered normal to fit 4 / 5 / 6 and at times even 8 apartments per floor. Many would agree that the number of effectively planned units per floor decided the caliber of the planning firm. It was always more the merrier. The smaller the redeveloped apartment size, the more the
numbers per floor. Of all the other benefits this ensured efficiency of the service core and lifts and invariably brought down construction cost and the loading factor on carpet area.
As planners we need to look beyond the obvious to ensure that the end product received by the redeveloped societies is maintainable and sustainable. A vertical circulation core with higher number of flats per floor when efficiently planned is a very good tool to reduce construction and installation cost of machin-
ery and equipment. Also if larger number of units share the same circulation core, the cost of maintaining the core is highly reduced and within limits to the common man. Today regardless of the apartment unit size, it is not possible to accommodate more than 4 flats per floor. Any attempt to increase this number is encountered by ‘ wastage of Fungible FSI’. Since only the area in front of the lift and staircase is free of FSI, any attempt to increase the number of flats on each floor thereby increasing passage area in the floor lobby amounts to use of FSI. No developer wants to ‘waste’FSI for services and circulation especially when it
To say that the amended DCR has only positives to offer is an extremely dangerous misnomer to believe in. Even though net FSI has increased, it does not necessarily increase the density or quantity of housing stock,.
comes at a premium. The same thoughts are echoed by residents as everyone wants to have sole rights on their share. To find a resident willing to let go of FSI for the betterment of design and efficient planning is like finding a needle in a haystack.
This has invariably killed some very efficient floor plans and along with them a lot of form modulations and building typologies such as the ‘ Y ’, ‘ + ’, ‘triangle’, ‘polygonal’, ‘elliptical’ have most probably have
also seen the last sunset. These plan forms have the potential to allow more number of units per floor but they require larger lobby areas and corridors which now consume FSI. The idea of adding Fungible FSI to the regular FSI was to use it for all such elements including elevation treatment, but the translation of the rule on paper into application seems to have missed a trick or two. Today all buildings have more or less the same plan formation; 1 / 2 / 3 and maximum 4 units per floor as these do not need large lobby areas. With not even an iota of freedom in planning architects have been left with no choice but to design most buildings with a ‘rectangle’, ‘L’ or ‘T’ shapes.
Even genuine design attempts to make an efficient and good looking building are stalled by a simple statement – ‘ Do not waste FSI in anything that does not convert into usable carpet area’. A long term effect of this attitude that ensures an increase in the number of circulation cores is that the cost of living will obviously increase by the day.