words@bld50 monthly talks

30.5.06

Sustainable Architecture in India - June 8th


RMIT Building 50, Orr St South Carlton (near Victoria Street) 7pm, gold coin

Dr. Vasudha Ashutosh Gokhale

Professor, Dr. B.N. College of Architecture, University of Pune India

India is about extremes, vastness, intensity, and paradox - all are qualities that describe this ancient culture. There is a tremendous diversity amongst the people, as there is bound to be in a nation of more than 1 billion people. With 28 states, 18 official languages, hundreds of dialects, India is an enormous melting pot of lifestyles and social and cultural customs.

An extremely high population density with a large percentage involved in agriculture makes land a scarce resource. Buildings in India typically have much lower energy consumption and with more varied comfort conditions. The relatively higher costs of energy in India make building materials more expensive. Indian buildings that use natural and mixed mode ventilation are reported to be comfortable. However, as multinational companies build new buildings in India and as others emulate those building standards and comfort levels, energy use will go up substantially.

The Indian economy is presently on an upswing with consistent growth. An annual growth of 10% in the building industry outpaces the economy by far. With so much demand in this sector, it is easy to lose sight of sustainable practices, which invariably reflect the society’s accumulated wisdom and collective images and are imbued with cosmological and religious values, social and political structure, sensibility and attitude towards time and space.

It is the matter of serious concern which needs an astute scrutiny of climate, culture, economy and prevalent construction practices to develop a system appropriate for the Indian context. It calls for public participation which is not a difficult task to achieve in India, where collective self-expression is supposed to be the common spirit that unites the whole nation, bridges linguistic and cultural divides and geographical boundaries, and lends a unique identity to the very heart and soul of the country.

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