Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Designing your home matters

Building homes with a site engineer's suggestions are passé. Contemporary styles demand the expertise of a professional architect to suit individual tastes.

An expert's touch will make the house stand out.
"Home is where the art is.
Home is comfort
It is a society of rooms
that have spoken to each other.
A home has no explicit function
A home is not what it is, but what
it does in people's lives."
— Gautam Bhatia, renowned architect

Building a home starts as a dream but turns into a nightmare somewhere along the line.

Over the next few weeks, this column will throw light on the complex web of activities, spatial qualities, typologies, materials, maintenance, various people involved and cost constraints of home-building. This column will help the reader identify various paths to achieve his or her specific goals of building exclusive homes.

Each family has its own special characteristics with different spatial requirements. The idea and function, image and reality of the house varies from culture to culture, locale to locale, generation to generation and demography to demography. A family from Kerala would like to have plenty of greenery around, whereas a Rajasthani would prefer the interiors to be highly artistic with lots of space for family interactions.

How do we translate all dreams, aspirations, expectations and requirements of people into concrete reality — the brick and the mortar?

"I want to build a house and am looking for a builder."

"Is there a good engineer who can build a house for me?''

"I have bought a site but I do not know how to proceed."

" Should I call a mason or engineer to build my home?''

"My friend told me that his house was built by an architect.''

Who is an architect? Is he like an engineer or is he a person who gives only a good elevation to the building? What is the difference?

These are the common queries posed by people who want to build a home. Generally, a person buys a piece of land to build a house and seeks the guidance of friends for understanding the building process and also to identify people who will convert his desires into reality.

Scene: A
He talks to his friends and they recommend an engineer who plans and constructs the building.

Scene B:
His friends guide him to a mason who takes him to an engineer to get a `blue-print' (a sketchy standard plan that remains the same for most of the houses planned by him). Then the mason executes the entire house based on that sketchy plan. (With plenty of modifications and insertions by his friends, relatives and family to make the living room "like the one in the tele serial, the `Elevational View', "like the cover of the English building magazine" they bought, the "bay window they saw in Anna Nagar'' and so on).

Scene C:
He is a computer literate, downloads a lot of visuals, buys a 3D home software, refers to design magazines and discusses plans with his family, before engaging an `obedient' mason for his building.

Scene D:
Somebody advises him to get a sketch plan and elevation from an architect and give the sketch to a mason to build it.

So much for these design and construction processes.

And the result — the homes are often vague in character, using assorted elements in the external façade. The interiors tend to be similar to other houses and lack creativity. They certainly do not reflect the individual tastes of the owner.What are we missing here? What is the design process that will lead us to our desired home? How can an architect help in designing your home? These questions will be answered in this column in the coming weeks.

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