- Rutuja Rode
Have we ever given a thought about what happens to the life of the soil on top of which buildings are constructed almost forever? These pieces of land lose their environmental relationship to the sun and rains perpetually. With the dominating influence of Sociopolitical factors involved in large city planning and mass architectural projects, it has been observed from time to time the negligible attention given to all the after effects of infrastructural growth. As per the statistics found online, 28% of the carbon footprint caused is by building operations and another 10% is caused by construction related industries like cement, glass, etc. It has been just lately in the last twenty years that awareness towards the sensitivity of the planet’s health has slowly started rising amongst educated individuals.
General Architectural Practice involves understanding the user’s needs and requirements, providing suitable design solutions that accomplish the desired comfort and functionality. Typically, zones are established, spaces are evolved and constructed using conventional techniques. The general practice to begin with, skips out on assessing the environmental impacts as a starting point. With regulations being made for passing the Environmental conditions, the practice tries to fit into the conditions rather than begin with that as a starting point of design. These are the mainstream ideas that now need to change.
The only constant that prevails and stands the test of time is Change. It is now time for Architectural practices to look at providing solutions more holistically. A good building that is comfortable to use, gives back carbon offsets to the environment and is made with a sustainable approach is by far a more qualified product that a building that just focusses on getting maximised potential with a drain on resources. Let us look at the example of Healthcare Buildings. It is proven that patients who have visual and real time access to nature heal faster than people who get treated in dark, closed buildings. It is so essential that a patient who is on his recovery bed must be able to look at the outside from a window that brings in good light and cuts heat at the same time. Architecture that establishes connections between the outdoors and indoors are not just therapeutic but a growing necessity of the millennial lifestyle. This leads us to understanding the need for bringing green spaces into our building models. Historically, architecture that involved planning around green courtyards has tried to established the same principles. A trend in the last decade has been all about green roofs and walls. When the building gets constructed, green roofs help in sort of establishing a balance by compensating for the square footage of land gone under concrete. Green roofs are a great way of creating public spaces, walkways and even organic farms - a sustainable means of generating food over industrialised farming. These roofs keep the lower floors cooler and also help in absorbing a large amount of radiation from the sun. Innovative thinking has also led to the idea of vertical green walls and vertical farming. These pieces of green walls are highly refreshing, they bring a sense of calm in any space. It is always better to add life onto surfaces then have them cladded with dead materials for years. Vertical walls just like green roofs are a good way of insulating the buildings that are typically exposed to heat. Think about covering up a data centre that has dead masses as the exterior facade with a fresh variety of green facade plants. Another advantage of green walls is that the system does not require the soil to be of a particular type and hence allows to bring in a diversity of plants. The buzz word in today’s day is Stress. Plants have always known to bust stress the most effectively. It is essential that Architecture enhances human productivity by combatting these stress levels with the aid of green spaces. These spaces stimulate creativity while also being an aesthetic and appealing feature by themselves. With the inclusion of green spaces, there is a benefit gained from macro to micro levels in our environment.