Posted by: Anu | December 12, 2012

Applying Eco-Logic in Architecture


I see Ketaki, my ecologist boss, standing in front of the architects…. Awkward at first and then…. Soon as she launches into her favorite topic… ecology…. So cool and poised she sounds… and so comfortable as if it was just some discussion struck between friends sitting out in porch! I forget that we are in an air-conditioned, fine designed conference hall of some glossy corporate office!

They are the leading people in construction business… and there she is, trying to teach them what the green really means! She doesn’t know architecture and the holy “mother of all arts” reverence that architects hold!! But she knows one thing…that perfection in any field of human life cannot stand against the simplest laws of nature! A perfect piece of architecture takes its existing environment into a very serious consideration.

The ancient profession of architecture is nothing more or less than a constant quest for that very same perfection! We are trying to find the fine balance between MAN, NATURE and the most vital element… called SPACE.

In modern times… the human element is being replaced with machine element, and is dominating the delicate balance….  I must remind you that the building design is structured over its parking layout requirements! Are our buildings about human comfort or about stocking more and more machines within?!
Space element is under huge stress and hence becoming sparse… more compact… more consuming designs are becoming a necessity…and an architectural challenge. And we architects love challenges! We thrive on them! So we design and design and design! We never stop and think… we never take a pause and try to restore the lost balance…. We never refuse to design for the imbalance…..

We are forced to neglect the third aspect of architectural design…the nature element. We have no space or priority for it. And that is exactly where we board the sinking boat! We have made the cities as safe and as pristine as sinking boats….meaning absolutely dangerous and chaotic to live in!

And let us not blame the governments, laws and bureaucracy all over again! The entire architectural community has been given the rights to design and consent. We have only used our rights to fill our pockets so far. Except a few respectable exceptions, we have been irresponsible and disrespectful towards the three aspects of architecture… man, nature and space.

Yes, I know we are never taught to understand nature. That is where the ecologists come into picture. We hire all kinds of consultants to take care of the air conditioning, electrification, services and structure… but we should consult an ecologist to reduce the ecological impact of every project.

An ecologist will tell you in perfect smooth technical jargon why planting native trees is so important. As an architect insist on selecting only native trees in your landscape palette. How difficult is that tell me?! There is no bureaucracy stopping you from that!

An ecologist will keep you from exceeding the use of concrete in everything. Concrete costs a lot more than just money. Think of the illegal sand mining that is raping our riverbeds… before you order a truckload of concrete. It is our responsibility to design with accuracy and material efficiency.

Ecologists constantly study the alternative materials that are either recycled or reaped from a renewable source. Architects need to open their eyes and accept these material alternatives. Alter their aesthetic presumptions if necessary to look beyond the beauty of glossy metallic paneling!

I am watching an ecologist standing in front of me…. Trying to reach out to the architects…. A researcher meeting the planners and designers…. If they really meet up at the golden mean, I am sure we can change the very limits of current architecture.

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