Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Housing for the new genre

Facilities such as club, gymnasium and recreation hall in group-housing projects promote community participation.

MODERNISATION AND industrialisation have meant a number of things in this new age. . One of these is free import from the west of goods, expertise and professional services, of which architecture is certainly one. Of the commonly available forms of housing, like the individual houses, flats and group housing, the comforts and services available in group-housing are fast making it the preferred choice.
A cluster of small individual or a group of units along with common spaces, recreational areas, green belts and children play areas are what creates a group housing. The scale of group housing can be from small one-acre plots to massive projects like the Asiad Games Village concept. The uniqueness and character found in these group houses showcase some very interesting architecture by renowned architects such as Charles Correa, B.V. Doshi, Raj Rewal and Hafeez Contractor.
In earlier days, large-sized group housing was not popular, as promoters could not afford large sites in city areas but now Perungudi , Velechery, Mogappair, Kottivakkam and Ambattur are now quickly becoming favourite locations, as the land value is affordable and the local facilities are improving. A typical group housing has large residential layouts which allow for club, gymnasium, recreational hall, meeting rooms, temple, landscaped courts, terraces, large play grounds, security services and modest shopping facilities and much more. There are some main factors that are of primary concern in the planning process.
In response to the climate, the blocks are oriented with fenestration largely in the north and the south, while openings in the east and the west are minimal and protected by modulation in plan. In order to accommodate a good central courtyard, the upper floors could be recessed in the section, hence the roof of the lower ones form terraces for the upper levels. This combined with a central court creates a bigger court.
Natural ventilation is a key factor to determine the form of buildings, hence the inclusion of roof terraces and courtyards with small screens (jallis or trellies) allows air to circulate freely throughout the dwellings. The spatial structure of the neighbourhood has to be based on the concept of clustering to form streets and courts of varying scales so as to facilitate a hierarchical disposition of space. Streets and courts thus evolve into a circulation system wherein vehicles are restricted to the outer limits of the complex, while the pedestrians inner precinct allows only emergency vehicular access, with a total connecting passage all round the periphery. A central court could ensure a safe planning, limiting the traffic movement to the outer passage alone and the central court acts as the children's play area and even a jogging track too.
The unit planning can be done to achieve either a high rise unit or a low rise structure. The scarcity of land and India's large population makes the necessity to achieve a high population density. Too tall buildings tend to be inhuman and too expensive, hence a low-rise structure which can be set much closer to each other can be promoted rather. In low-rise three-storeyed structure, the planning can be done in such a way that the ground and the first are single floor units and second floor is a duplex apartment. Hence you have to climb a maximum of two floors only. Also aligning the toilets and other services one above the other reduces the service cost as well in such small units.
Since the requirements can be achieved easily in large developments, parking facilities and area for recreational activities like a gymnasium or an ATM centre can also be provided. They are not just value additions but are also more viable as the cost is shared by a large group of people. It also improves community participation by means of the large interacting spaces and the outside play areas (which inculcates outdoor activities rather than the indoor TV viewing and computer games)
The author is the chief Architect of Murali Architects, Chennai

No comments: