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GREEN BUILDINGS OUGHT TO BE RESTORATIVE

Vivek Rathore, Principal Architect & Founder, Salient Design Studio

QHow would you describe your entire architectural voyage?

Interesting question, this voyage (if at all it can be called so as it has no destination) has helped us discover, me discover myself. Through the years, I have gathered great architecture comes with greater understanding of ourselves (and our surroundings) and good acknowledgment of constraints. Also in the voyage, I have understood that we interpret the manner how we see, hence, it is important how we think. In Salient, we aim in working on ourselves to become better us. It may be a difficult process, but, an imminent process, if we want to make this voyage contributive. An architect is key to the project, he can only drive all odds and limitations by passion – thus keep the passion ignited through your journey.

QWhat is your perspective of architecture?

It is a function of how we see the present (our needs, resources and limitations) into the future life. Architecture is not restricted to space as ‘building’, it is also the space we see in ‘unbuilding’. Architecture should be man-sensible participation with nature, driven by need and not by greed. Architecture should be about celebrating life – within us and around us!

QHow do you manage to come up with such interesting projects every single time?

Every project has a potential to become brilliant, we need to just do three things. First, learn the art of emptying a glass before filling it – read and live the context of design without any prejudice or preconceptions, this will fill in details that render a project its uniqueness. Second, lets realise that ‘the ability of response’ is a responsibility and we cannot bear this responsibility till we love it – thus let nothing come in between you and the design process, but, only pure love – passion.

I don’t break a thinking process in between, maybe it stretches to weeks. Third, I don’t stop criticising and reviewing my own work, this builds up an acumen for perfection and accommodate design suggestions by end users. We in our studio allow and invite constructive criticism from all sections.

QHow would you compare designing in steel vis-à-vis designing in concrete?

While steel gives me the ability to control the geometry and eccentricity in massing – concrete helps in providing a stronger character and render a sense of timelessness. In future, we are evolving in to more composite and pure structural steel systems. But, design solution cannot have blinkers – I look the two systems together and value a system that is sustainable.

QWhat is your take on the current scenario of Green Buildings in India?

The move towards sustainability has to grow over four folds. The mitigation systems to achieve sustainability are not enough and we are heading towards asking 2 earths to meet the natural replenishment standards. We just don’t need green buildings – we need them to become restorative. We want them to produce power and food for us, and not just shelter.

QDo you think steel used in residential segment is a prospering value for the industry? Your take on this?

With the advent of high rises and high density living, steel is definitely a value buy in construction system and technology. It provides efficiency in space planning, flexibility in module adaptation, facilitate prefabrication technology, reduce construction time, increase visual permeability by reducing structural section sizes, etc. It has changed the architectural personality of high rise residential development.

QWhere do you see India in next ten years with regards to steel construction?

India in long term should innovate its concrete industry too – hence I see ourselves pioneering in hybrid construction technologies where steel shall play an important role. We still lack knowledge and execution contingent as far as high strength steel fabrication technology is concerned. There should be more initiative by steel industry leaders to penetrate into the mind of designers, if we want ‘steel to steal the show’ in future.

QTell us about the project that you have sketched and is yet to be turned into reality?

This project is called ‘Prana’ and is a high rise premium residence tower. It employs biomimicry and is inspired by form taken by wild mushrooms. The organic shaped staggering cantilevers in every floor provide for vegetable gardens, solar harvesting, sound (noise) attenuation systems etc. The core is RCC with structural steel framing. Since this site had over 11 large canopy trees and a highly integrated root matrix, we even decided to let go doing any basement so that least damage is done to the biotic activities below ground. If we build for ourselves lets us not unbuild the nature around!

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