December Yojana | Architecture
- Re-structuring Urban Galaxies
- Central Vista Redevelopment Project
- Development of Historic City Centres
- Brihadeeshwara Temple-A Stand Alone Marvel
- Revisiting ‘Brutalist’ Architecture
- Statue of Unity
- Universal Public Designs
- Architecture for Health and Well-Being
1. Re-structuring Urban Galaxies
- When we see the map of India, we realise a unique characteristic -there is a hierarchical network of dots of varied sizes with names of large metropolises, cities, and towns.
- They appear like 'urban galaxies' – with naturally developed scales between entities, interconnected and located within easy reach.
- Further exploration suggests that these networks have their unique lifestyles, and unique patterns of habitat based on local resources, climate, and available characteristics of the land.
- The connections and the spread of the developments appear like a ‘biological’ growth, with adaptation, mutation and replication.
- Sustainable development of Indian cities and towns is now a buzzword. However, we need to understand this fully and see how these goals can trigger other developments without affecting the region or the Lifestyle.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF INDIAN CITIES AND TOWNS
- Sustainability means ensuring the long-lasting development of cities and towns without becoming unduly centralized.
- At the same time, their size should be kept in check to ensure that they are still viable in terms of available resources.
- We need to review our present mega-cities and metropolises. By improving their infrastructure, we will surely improve their functioning, but we may not upgrade the quality of life.
FOLLOWING CHALLENGES HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED IN THE CURRENT APPROACH TO MAKING INDIAN CITIES SUSTAINABLE
- Misplaced Priority:
- By improving their infrastructure, we will surely improve their functioning, but we may not upgrade the quality of life.
- Improper selection of developmental models:
- Our development focus is concentrated around one place/city. With this, we are denuding the smaller towns in the region of their small-scale crafts and industries.
- Through this, we are also encouraging migration and overburdening of the mega-cities- which will eventually get crushed under their own burden of management, complexity, and affordability
- Bigger Isn't Always Better:
- Expanding mega-cities today can only afford to sell branded and mass-produced goods to greater numbers.
- This needs larger production centres, industrial complexes, a greater network of transport facilities, etc. This has resulted in the creation of colossal agglomerations like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru.
- These agglomerations are struggling with their size and yet think that they have to rely on it, and depend overly on exhaustible resources that keep getting expensive while the quality of life keeps dropping.
- Hence, as against 'small is beautiful' we are talking of 'bigger is better'.
RETHINKING THE PLANNING AND PLANNERS
- Planning is not merely about physical growth, but also about spiritual and cultural growl which depends on the availability of resources.
- Visiting several towns and cities in different parts of India, one notices the unique and regionally-connected lifestyle and virtuous skills of the local population.
- This is achieved by decentralisation and by allowing self-discovery for the human energy to find particular avenues of exploration within the regional context of resources and values.
- Thus planners must look at multi-nodal conglomerates, and not the single-large banyan trees that can expand infinitely, absorbing smaller entities on the way and obliterating their strengths.
- There was always respect for the natural network of important water bodies with a water supply and irrigation systems, and the forests and animal life. Non-motorised transport
encouraged greener, quieter, and less polluted habitats. Thus planners must find ways to integrate them into a planning process of a town or city.
- Similarly, daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal markets suggest a very different notion of 'economies of scale', both for production and consumption.
- ‘Appropriateness’ therefore, has been a virtue that has guided scales and life-fulfilling characteristics of each habitat in India. This is the secret of their survival over centuries, in spite of floods and famine.
- We need to 'miniaturise' our cities, and make them more compact. One of the ways is to think of them as 'walkable cities.'
- It is possible to conceive all aspects of one's life from living to working to most basic education and recreation within a half-hour walk.
- Consider the smaller towns of around one lakh population as growth centres and develop them as magnets, other villages and smaller habitations will have the chance to learn, earn and develop without sacrificing their time and energy in communication and travel.
2. Central Vista Redevelopment Project
- Central Vista is a national icon for India.
- Located at the heart of New Delhi, the three km stretch between Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate is the administrative centre of the country's Union Government, the venue for India's national events, a precious civic garden, and a popular destination for the residents of Delhi and tourists.
- Central Vista Redevelopment Project refers to the ongoing redevelopment to revamp Central Vista, India's central administrative area located near Raisina Hill, New Delhi.
HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CENTRAL VISTA
- Central Vista was designed by the British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker as the seat for the British Raj and adopted by independent India as our own on 15 August 1947.
- Central Vista is a symbol of our victory over British imperialism.
- The Indian Constitution was written here, we adopted the imperial Council House as the Parliament of India, Viceroy's House was adopted as Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate became a national monument, the lawns flanking the processional axis became public gardens, and the North and South BLocks that symbolised the might of colonial rule over India at the time of their construction became the offices of the Indian government.
NEED FOR REDEVELOPMENT
- Over the years, Rajpath and adjoining areas of Central Vista Avenue had been witnessing pressure of increasing traffic of visitors, putting stress on its infrastructure.
- It even lacked basic amenities.
- Also, a need was felt to organise the Republic Day parade and other National events less disruptively with minimal restrictions on public movement.
- The redevelopment has been done bearing these concerns in mind while ensuring the integrity and continuity of architectural character.
- 'Kartavya Path' symbolises a shift from the erstwhile Rajpath being an icon of power to being an example of public ownership and empowerment.
3. Development of Historic City Centres
- India’s monuments are irreplaceable and significant assets for the nation and its people with associated emotional, religious, economic, historic, architectural, and archaeological values amongst others.
- Their conservation efforts require craftsmen to use traditional materials, tools, and building techniques and can also become significant employers.
- Unlike the West, we in India are fortunate that craft traditions have survived to the present times, and it is recommended to give an emphasis on a craft-based approach to conservation as well as modern public buildings.
CONSERVATION APPROACH OF INDIA
- The Indian approach to conservation allows leveraging our historical assets to improve the socio-economic conditions of residents of our historic cities.
- The residents of our numerous historic city centres can benefit from greater integration of preservation and conservation efforts with public policies and schemes for development measures.
- For example, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India, the Central Public Works Department and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has undertaken a 15-year urban renewal project at the Humayun's Tomb-Nizamuddin area in Delhi.
- Here, conservation efforts have incorporated local area development through employment generation, boosting local crafts and arts, the building of infrastructure, environmental conservation, and landscaping.
- The Archaeological Survey of India is taking several steps to ensure long-term, sustainable preservation of our nation's heritage in a manner that is based on increased awareness amongst the public and increased involvement of civil society.
- There has been increased awareness of the value of the urban setting of our sites in ensuring that the historic character is retained.
- This led to guidelines issued in 1992 and the formation of the National Monument Authority, which mandated to create of guidelines for new buildings in the setting of each one of the nation's protected monuments.
- Conservation effort requires craftsmen using traditional materials, tools and building techniques and can also become a significant employer.
- Several of our monuments stand amidst dense urban inhabitation in our many historic cities. Also, often the communities residing around monuments in these dense urban centres are poor and often deprived of even the most basic urban infrastructure.
- Thus we need to implement the 'Conservation Led Development' model (community-based conservation) to achieve both goals of conservation and socio-economic development. For example, The success of the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal has demonstrated a model approach for community-based conservation.
- Conservation and development should go hand-in-hand, but conservation interest must remain paramount if any such development is to be sustainable in perpetuity.
4. Brihadeeshwara Temple-A Stand Alone Marvel
- The Big Temple of Thanjavur, i.e. Brihadeeshwara Temple is a stunning monument that speaks volumes about the architectural mastery of the Chola era.
- This Shiva temple is home to one of the largest Shiva Lingas in the country.
- A majestic Nandi (bull) stands guard over the temple. This is the second largest Nandi in India and is carved out of a single stone.
- The temple is recognised as a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
HISTORIC CITY OF THANJAVUR (TANJORE)
- The ancient city of Thanjavur is the cultural capital of the Kaveri delta region.
- The city and its cultural legacy are the end product of three vibrant kingdoms that have ruled this part of Tamil Nadu over the past millennium– the Cholas, the Vijayanagar and the Maratta kings.
- Of these three, the Cholas take credit for identifying the town as a potential political capital when it was captured by Vljayalaya Cholas early in the 9th century.
- Rajaraja-I, who was engaged in several military expeditions, should have been inspired by the fine temple architecture patronised by the Pallavas and other predecessors. His ancestors, who have been devout Saivites have contributed to the development of many popular temples of Shiva, and should have also inspired him. So, it is only natural for Rajaraja-I to take upon himself this mammoth task of constructing what probably should have been the grandest humble offering to Siva.
THE BRIHADEESHWARA TEMPLE
- It was built by Rajaraja I in 1009 CE.
- The temple complex measuring about 244 metres on the east-west and 122 metres north-south is placed inside what is referred to as Sivagangai little fort.
- This fortification is an addition taken over during the renovation by Sevappa Nayaka around the 17th century.
- A well-decorated arched entranceway, built during Maratta period, welcomes visitors with various deities fixed as stucco images.
- After the Maratta entrance, visitors are welcomed by a classic Rajaraja period gopuram named as Keralanthakakan Thiruvasal.
- This 5-tiered gopuram has a cellular ambulatory on either side. Sixty metres from here is the second gopuram called as Rajarajan Thiruvasal.
- On the eastern side of this gopuram are massive monolithic dwarapalakkas or door guardians.
- Also, the stone base of this gopuram has bas-relief panels depicting episodes from puranas.
- On entering this gopuram the visitor is treated with an aesthetically pleasing grand panorama of the Sri Vimanam and the sub-shrines.
- The vimana stands on a square base measuring 29 metres.
- The proportioning of the successive tiers of the vimana is the reason behind the visually appealing appearance of the structure.
- The 13-storeyed, 66 metres tall pyramidal vimana is corrugated with appropriate motifs, design features, and sculptures of various deities.
- The pinnacle is a spherical dome-like shikhara, on which sits the 12-feet tall gold-plated kalasam.
- According to the agamas, the Vimanam on top of the sanctum sanctorum is supposed to represent sookhmalinga.
- It is considered a sacred mountain and hence Rajaraja describes this Vimana as the ‘Dakshina Meru’, the revered Meru mountain of the south.
- Hence, the topography of Kailasa has been recreated as a stone bas-relief on the eastern facade, decorated with the daily scene at Kailasa, representing the divine family of Siva with Devi, Ganesha, Muruga, Nandi, the rishis, and other celestials.
- All around the circumference of the compound wall, two-storeyed cloistered halls had been constructed to be used as multipurpose space.
- There are sub-shrines built in between these cloistered halls housing shrines for the ashtadikpalaka (deities guarding the 8 directions), Ganesha, and the temple yagasalai.
- The shrine built during the times of Rajaraja, mentioned in the inscription as Parivara-Alayattu Pillaiyar, was vandalised and hence the Maratta king built a new structure for him.
- An equally interesting feature of the temple is the huge monolithic Nandi, the sacred bull, in front of the main shrine.
- The pavilion on which the Nandi sits is by itself a later-period addition.
- The monolithic Nandi from the Nayaka period was brought in to replace the old Nandi installed by Rajaraja.
- This temple is an engineering wonder. The 2-storeyed sanctum sanctorum along with the vimana on top of it is truly a wonder. The structural load sharing has been brilliantly planned in a very crisp fashion.
- The slope of the pyramid has been achieved by pushing the successive layers by a few inches inside, thereby getting a very gentle slope. On top of this pyramid, the shikhara acts as the counterweight to hold them all in place.
- The temple is a grand galore that depicts the seasoned sense of aesthetics and planning that the land and its people had acquired a millennium back.
5. Revisiting ‘Brutalist’ Architecture
- Brutalist Architecture was a child of a line of thought that, wished to strip buildings of their unnecessary intricacies, embellishments, superfluous decorations, and cover-ups with the employment of multifarious concealing materials and finishes that hide the core structure and basic character of it.
- This is accepted as a specific offshoot of modern architecture. The word Brutalism doesn't really come from its harsh aesthetics, but actually from the very material it is made up of, i.e., the predominant use of reinforced and plain concrete.
- Béton brut is basically a French term that means 'gross cement' or 'raw concrete' and this term is occasionally used to describe the characteristic looks identifiable as Brutalist Architecture.
- Trying to grasp in a rather simple manner, Brutalist Architecture can be identified by some specific markers.
- Started around 1950, this bold new movement proclaimed and practised Architecture as muscular, simple, undecorated, almost intimidating in its stark and imposing presence.
- Brutalist architecture is a trend that appeared in Britain, while the society was going through. the post-war reconstruction processes.
- Brutalist buildings are marked by a sort of minimalist yet voluminous construction that deliberately displays the bare building materials and structural elements over deceptive manipulations of decorative design.
- To identify Brutalist Architecture in a rather conclusive way, we may look for certain basic materials and abstract characteristics in buildings including simplicity, a feeling of volume, use of minimum materials, no efforts towards superfluous decoration, softening, intricacy or embellishment, a forceful presence to the tune of being even shocking at times, a tough and
stark look from outside and inside, a sculptural quality, and finally an honest exhibition of materials used and structural system adopted.
- We may also look for bare, bold, unromantic, non-intricate, non-omate simplicity, harshness, dominance of straight lines, bare materials, angular massing, lumpy nature, straight-cut, aggressive, massive, no-fuss, and imposing soulpturesque quality achieved by sheer simple volumes.
- It is a vocation too and often surpasses its professional domain to arrive at its vocational impulses to change and lead and guide the very needs and tastes of the society.
- The architects who led the Brutalist movement desired architecture to be shone of all unessential embellishments and stand unbudgingly in its monolithic confidence and honest stature in a bare-all and dare-all stance in front of the world.
- They wanted their buildings to radiate confidence of durability and dependability amid the social instability of that time, the buildings were supposed to be icons of strength, like infallible lighthouses amid the stem of socio-politico-economic upheavals.
- In Architecture, we find that society has changed a lot, momentous changes have taken place in the individual and collective human mindset.
- Let contemporary brutalism emerge as candid architecture. As Brutalism was a branch of modem architecture, let this new Brutalism be a vanguard of sustainable, futuristic architecture.
6. Statue of Unity
- The Statue of Unity is a testimonial to the life of Sardar Patel, a role model of unity and statesmanship.
- The tallest statue in the world enjoys a splendidly scenic location facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam, 3.2 kilometres away.
- This colossal statue stands on the isle of Sadhu-Bet in River Narmada, at Ekta Nagar, District Rajpipla in the Indian State of Gujarat, with the majestic Vindhyachal and Satpuda Mountain Ranges in the backdrop.
- The statue is fast becoming one of the country's top tourist attractions.
- Aimed to inspire generations, the Statue showcases Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's vision of unity, patriotism, inclusive growth, and good governance.
- It was dedicated to the nation on October 31, 2018, which also marked the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is credited with uniting over 560 princely states in pre-independent India to build the Republic of India, hence the statue is christened the ‘Statue of Unity’.
- It is the tallest statue in the world with an impressive height of 182 metres and can be seen from space.
- The statue is a three-layered structure. The innermost layer is made of reinforced cement concrete (RCC), comprising two towers 127 metres high that rise to the statue’s chest. The second layer is a steel structure and the third is an 8 mm bronze cladding on the surface.
7. Universal Public Designs
- In a heterogeneous society, the goal of every state is to provide equal access to its citizens. When it comes to physical-public domain design, infrastructure for persons with disabilities assumes another dimension of architecture.
- It has certain implications from the special-need quotient of demography, and disability as an asocial construct.
- The international community is building competencies for delivering quality governance on universal designs.
- India too has initiated Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan as a credible step towards sustainable goals in universal designs.
- When administrators consider people with all kinds of abilities and their accessibility issues while building public utilities and spaces, it can be coined as universal design. The universal or inclusive design provides a holistic approach to designing public spaces and utilities.
- The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) inspires and focuses on universal design.
- It highlights the sovereign government’s responsibility to make improvements since accessibility is a right.
- Member States are responsible for systematically removing obstacles and creating inclusive solutions for everyone, irrespective of their functional capacity, characteristics and preferences.
- Nordic countries for instance and universal design is a good examples of vision for inclusive growth.
- There are three vital aspects of inclusive designs in any situation.
- One is the social responsibility or commitment of the entity that evolves strategies for inclusion.
- Secondly, the reward to such organisations which initiate such changes, and
- finally, the sustainability of such initiatives.
- A major challenge in implementing such changes is on emphasising the value of such initiatives at the policy level and at the execution level.
- Inclusive design is about creating buildings and spaces, streets, public parks, gardens, etc., that are really comfortable and easy for all of us to use.
- Another challenge is that the people who are working at various capacities in construction lack knowledge about the whole structure, and issues of accessibility fail to bring those minute changes at their ends for universal designs.
APPROACHES AND PRINCIPLES
- In 1997, a team of architects and designers from North of California State University created a set of principles for a universal design.
- To understand the suitability of a piece of architecture as universally designed, these principles can be used as a test for suitability. These are:
- A piece of architecture should provide an equitable use for every person irrespective of their differential ability.
- A piece of architecture should possess the quality of flexibility in use.
- A piece of architecture must have the quality – Simple and intuitive use.
- A piece of architecture should have perceptible information about its layout.
- A piece of architecture should possess the quality of tolerating errors if people commit mistakes due to their disabilities.
- A piece of architecture should possess the quality of usage or access and should demand low physical effort.
- A piece of architecture should possess adequate size and space for use.
SUGAMYA BHARAT ABHIYAN
- On 3 December 2015 i.e., World Disability Day, the Govt. of India launched Accessible India Campaign as a country-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities.
- It has three important components including the build environment, transportation sector, and the ICT ecosystem.
- The programme directs that identifying accessible buildings requires annual accessibility audits that determine if a building meet agreed standards.
- The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities is working out a comprehensive code which will be a hitherto attempt in the Indian context as the first step towards universal design, Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan has indeed made an affable attempt.
- Disability should be viewed as a persistent possible phenomenon for any demography.
- In exclusive architectural models, children or aged population could also be exposed to risky obstacles as it would do to disabled.
- Universal design will also indirectly help the state in soliciting the global community to enjoy the iconic tourist spots in India.
8. Architecture for Health and Well-Being
- 'We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.' – Winston Churchill.
- We have started to spend an extraordinary time indoors.
- In our current lifestyles, we are fast dependent on the building amenities and utilities that power us on a day-to-day basis. This includes artificial lighting and artificial means of ventilating space.
- The indoor-based lifestyle, if not possible to be reversed, should most definitely be optimised so that it must take care of our health and well-being
HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
- The World Health Organization gives a more wholesome definition of health which is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.
- The wide spectrum of health encompasses preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care.
- India has taken steps in this direction under the Ayushman Bharat where we are now opening Health and Wellness Centres.
- All India Sanitary Conference that was held in Lucknow in 1914 laid the foundation of the current paradigm of building and city planning, by including the concepts of health and wellbeing.
- The concept of having appropriate lights on the streets was introduced and the width of the abutting streets was made in accordance with the light.
- This would ensure adequate sunlight supply to the interior spaces of the buildings.
- This forms the basis of all urban bylaws and city plans made later in India.
- Sunlight, along with natural ventilation was considered as the remedy against many ills of the time like tuberculosis.
ARCHITECTURE AND NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASE RELATIONSHIPS
- Architecture and city planning are closely linked to the reduction in non-communicable diseases if proper thought is put in place.
- The proximity of spaces for work-out and recreation including parks, integrated with our urban texture, hold the key to a healthy life.
- Bicycle tracks, availability of bicycles, no-car zones, green spaces, and other measures in cities form the basis of a more active lifestyle.
- The use of interior products that are non-carcinogenic in nature like paints, furniture finishes, and upholstery in buildings is necessary for the prevention of the building of volatile organic compounds which are proven to be carcinogenic on longer exposures.
- A well-designed building is an antidote to the daily humdrum of office work and provides a release from stress.
- What is most required is that our pre-existing focus on health and well-being must be given a renewed vigour so that each and every building is designed for health and well-being. This will have a multiplier effect on the overall well-being of the nation as a whole.
- India must incorporate state-of-the-art building codes and standards that the Bureau of Indian Standards publishes to design buildings for health and well-being.
- This includes the National Building Code 2016 along with other sub-codes like SP-41 or the Handbook of Functional Requirements of Buildings and the National Lighting Code which deals with visual comfort in spaces.
- We have also created the National Lighting Code which deals with visual comfort in spaces, an often-overlooked factor.
- Architecture and City Planning are the mainstays and key ingredients of health and well-being for the building inhabitants and city dwellers. This fact must be reinvented with each new building and each new city plan.
INDIA’S G20 PRESIDENCY: SIGNIFICANCE & OPPORTUNITIES
“India's G20 Presidency will be inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented…Over the next year, we will strive to ensure that the G20 acts as a global prime mover to envision new ideas and accelerate collective action…Together, we will make the G20, a catalyst for global change.”
Note: Read more at Latest Issues and Challenges that the G-20 must address.