emerg­ing Global Face of in­dian ar­chi­tec­ture

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son­ali & Manit Ras­togi are the Found­ing part­ners of Mor­pho­gen­e­sis

son­ali & Manit Ras­togi are the Found­ing Part­ners of Mor­pho­gen­e­sis, one of in­dia’s lead­ing award-win­ning ar­chi­tec­ture and Ur­ban de­sign prac­tices that con­sis­tently pushes bound­aries of sus­tain­able de­sign and en­sures that projects re­main eco­nom­i­cally vi­able and glob­ally per­ti­nent.

amongst many is­sues plagu­ing In­dian Ar­chi­tec­ture and Ur­ban­ism to­day, there is the larger is­sue of Iden­tity - what re­ally is Con­tem­po­rary In­dian Ar­chi­tec­ture? What is ‘Brand In­dia’ when it comes to Ar­chi­tec­ture? Is there a need to de­velop a dis­course, a global dis­course, on In­dian Ar­chi­tec­ture? What about In­dian Ar­chi­tec­ture needs to be prop­a­gated?

In our opin­ion, In­dian Ar­chi­tec­ture has suc­cess­fully ad­dressed ar­chi­tec­ture in a sus­tain­able way whilst cre­at­ing adap­tive, af­ford­able, live­able, so­cio-cul­tur­ally re­spon­sive and vis­ually en­riched ar­chi­tec­ture of­ten built with lim­ited re­sources. In a world strug­gling with en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion, this is a highly valu­able

skill, and this is where we must fo­cus all our is­sues re­lated to the pro­fes­sion and ed­u­ca­tion.

The real ques­tion is how can we take what we were re­ally good at and cre­ate a model for the fu­ture based on the present; where fi­nance, glob­al­i­sa­tion and pre-con­ceived im­agery cur­rently take cen­tre stage.

Ap­ply­ing cur­rent eval­u­a­tion cri­te­ria, tra­di­tional In­dian Ar­chi­tec­ture is con­sis­tently green. The ob­vi­ous rea­son be­ing that Habi­tats were al­ways built within a lo­cal­ized con­text – usu­ally in re­sponse to not hav­ing ac­cess to abun­dant re­sources of wa­ter and en­ergy. This In­dian at­ti­tude to­wards green build­ing has in­her­ently been dif­fer­ent from the western model which is equip­ment cen­tric, re­spond­ing to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent cli­matic con­di­tion. Post the oil boom in the 60’s, with avail­abil­ity of cheap en­ergy, there was an evo­lu­tion of equip­ment cen­tric, her­met­i­cally sealed glass build­ings, dis­con­nected from the en­vi­ron­ment. To­day this prob­lem has been fur­ther com­pounded by green rat­ing sys­tems that ad­dress their stan­dards to this type of ar­chi­tec­ture which by and large tend to have lower en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards. Al­though they aim to pro­vide bet­ter en­vi­ron­ments, the method­ol­ogy adopted by these sys­tems is gen­er­ally equip­ment cen­tric, re­stricted and highly pre­scrip­tive, lead­ing to higher costs of con­struc­tion. This re­sults in lim­ited ap­pli­ca­tion ow­ing to the pre­scribed nar­row def­i­ni­tion of hu­man com­fort level. To­day, devel­op­ments across In­dia are de­signed with a layer of sus­tain­abil­ity or ‘green’ su­per­im­posed. How­ever, I be­lieve that there should be a con­scious at­tempt to step away from this over­lay sys­tem of green points and in­stead in­cor­po­rate pas­sive ap­proaches to de­sign, right from con­cep­tual and plan­ning stages. Un­like other na­tions, lo­cal re­sources, ma­te­ri­als and meth­ods of con­struc­tion are still eas­ily avail­able to us. The most ef­fec­tive ap­proach is to build in a man­ner that re­sponds to the cli­matic needs of the re­gion while re­main­ing eco­nom­i­cally vi­able.

Ad­di­tion­ally, op­ti­miza­tion of all ser­vices is a pre- req­ui­site to re­spon­si­ble ar­chi­tec­ture to­day. The idea of sus­tain­abil­ity should now move on from build­ings to our cities as well. An as­sort­ment of prob­lems of mi­gra­tion, traf­fic, pol­lu­tion, wa­ter, elec­tric­ity, sewage, pub­lic health, safety, gov­er­nance and global warm­ing is­sues are preva­lent in most of our cities. There is a hid­den op­por­tu­nity that lies within our or­gan­i­cally evolved cities- one of es­tab­lish­ing a green and sus­tain­able net­work as an al­ter­na­tive source of en­gage­ment with the city, for the com­mon man. The aim should be to re­claim the derelict, the for­got­ten, the re­cy­clable and the toxic by in­volv­ing all stake hold­ers; thereby col­laps­ing the bound­aries of decades of non-sys­temic think­ing which have gen­er­ated un­sus­tain­able ur­ban growth.

The fu­sion of ideas would lead to the emer­gence of a de­sign and ur­ban­ism dis­course that is in­vested in bridg­ing two cul­tures, the lo­cal and global. It is this in­clu­sive na­ture of de­sign that, Mor­pho­gen­e­sis be­lieves, will de­fine the new emer­gent In­dian ar­chi­tec­ture.

Mor­pho­gen­e­sis views its de­sign prac­tice as an ar­chi­tec­tural lab­o­ra­tory, look­ing to ex­pand the bound­aries of ar­chi­tec­ture and en­vi­ron­men­tal de­sign in In­dia. The firm has suc­cess­fully cre­ated ex­em­plars that are net-zero en­abled with­out in­cur­ring ad­di­tional cost.

Look­ing at the Delhi Nul­lahs project, the aim of this ini­tia­tive was to tap into the la­tent in­fras­truc­tural net­work that city pro­vided. In this case it was the 350km long con­tin­u­ous net­work of nul­lahs, built over 700 years ago by the Tugh­laqs. The cur­rent state of this net­work sys­tem is di­lap­i­dated. How­ever, with a rel­a­tively small in­vest­ment these nul­lahs could be turned into a valu­able as­set. With a de­tailed pro­posal on how to re­vive this net­work, Mor­pho­gen­e­sis hopes to bring to life an al­ter­nate trans­porta­tion net­work, an en­vi­ron­men­tal cor­ri­dor and a cul­tural web that at­tempts to hold the whole na­tional cap­i­tal to­gether. This project seeks to es­tab­lish a ‘green and sus­tain­able’ net­work as an al­ter­na­tive and demo­cratic source of en­gage­ment within the city of Delhi. In some sense, this ex­er­cise has the po­ten­tial to turn the whole city in­side out by de­pri­or­i­tiz­ing the au­to­mo­bile and restor­ing the nul­lahs as a ma­jor in­ter­face of the city. By col­laps­ing the bound­aries be­tween ar­chi­tec­ture, de­sign, and ur­ban­ism, we can realign our­selves to­wards a new face of ar­chi­tec­ture with sus­tain­abil­ity at its core. All our projects across var­i­ous lev­els of di­ver­sity are ex­am­ined through the lens of Pas­sive De­sign, Re­source Op­ti­mi­sa­tion and Con­tex­tual Sus­tain­abil­ity. As a de­sign prac­tice in an in­creas­ingly con­nected world, cues are taken not only from the im­me­di­ate con­text but from the ex­panded field of net­worked ge­ogra­phies and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary forces. We be­lieve ev­ery project is an op­por­tu­nity to in­ves­ti­gate the pro­gram from a fresh per­spec­tive and to chal­lenge the or­tho­dox­ies of ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign process.this be­comes es­pe­cially rel­e­vant to emer­gent Asian cul­tures in trans­for­ma­tion. As the com­mu­ni­ca­tion era con­tin­ues to de­fine the global In­dian cit­i­zen in in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked tech­no­log­i­cal ways, ex­ist­ing and emer­gent tech­nolo­gies and sys­tems de­signs are con­sid­ered and in­te­grated with the indige­nous and emer­gent con­struc­tion in­dus­try in In­dia.

Delhi Nul­lah Sketch

Ut­torayon Town­ship Sketch

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