L-R: Faisal Vohra, Shiva Mohan Komaravolu, Shweta Balasubramani, Nanda Kumar and Supraja Rao.
L-R: Faisal Vohra, Shiva Mohan Komaravolu, Shweta Balasubramani, Nanda Kumar and Supraja Rao.

The Hyderabad edition of the Think Turf series saw a vigorous discussion on building sustainable and efficient spaces

The “Think Turf” Smart Living Forum is an interactive knowledge-sharing platform connecting the most recognised architects and designers across the length and breadth of the country. It aims to be a platform for empowering the threshold of smart and sustainable spaces in India. The forum encourages exchange of views regarding the challenges and opportunities being faced within the architecture and design fraternity on designing and building sustainable and efficient spaces. Following successful chapters of the forum in cities like Surat, Guwahati, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Indore, among others, the latest edition was held at Hyderabad.

Bibhor Srivastava began the event by welcoming the attendees.

Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director at ITP Media Group (India), kicked off the programme by welcoming the attendees and congratulated partner brand Voltas for successfully collaborating the “Think Turf” Smart Living Forum. He then went on to briefly introduce and invite the keynote speaker, architect Vami Koticha, associate principal at sP+a, onto the stage to deliver the keynote address.
Koticha began by sharing her views on the transition of architecture in India post-independence, saying, “Architecture in India has been trying to cope up with the rapid change post development of the economy in 1991. It’s trying to look for a solution to adapt to this rapid change. Since then, we now no longer enter a project as the ultimate authors of the project, it really becomes a collaborative wisdom of all the stakeholders involved.”

She strongly believes that: “Architecture is very romantic. It’s not just visual; it’s actually an emotion that it evokes within you the minute you walk into that space.” Koticha then shared snapshots of various residential spaces, educational institutes and mixed-use projects from her portfolio, which included, Jetavan, a Buddhist learning and skill development centre in Sakharwad, Maharashtra, which was planned in collaboration with the Hunnarshala team of experts and designed to be built by local workers and members of the local community. Then came an educational institute, KJ Somaiya College for Information Technology, which was an addition of the IT building of the pre-existing KJ Somaiya Engineering Institute on their Sion campus in Northern Mumbai. Koticha also spoke of the international competition for the redesign of Maharashtra Nature Park and design of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Mithi river located at Mahim in Mumbai.

Further, she discussed a project called Maya Somaiya Library as an addition to an English Medium school in Kopergaon, Maharashtra. “What I think is symbolic of this project is the way we look at history, where there are existing technologies that have been around, but we’re not merely replicating that old technology, we’re combining it with our modern knowledge networks and pushing it beyond what it could ever do,” she said.

In conclusion, Koticha quoted renowned American architect Louis Kahn, saying, “A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through the measurable in the process of design, but must again in the end be unmeasurable. The design, the making of things is a measurable act, what is unmeasurable is the psychic spirit, the psyche is expressed by feeling and also by thought and I believe it will always remain unmeasurable.” Koticha strongly believes that her work is, in spirit, more aligned with traditional systemic knowledge and skill rather than a focused architectural agglomeration.

Koticha was then felicitated by Jayaraman, zonal head - Product Sales, Voltas, for her remarkable presentation.

Jayaraman then took the stage to introduce the Voltas support services team for the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana market. He then shared a brief partner presentation, which highlighted the global presence, achievements, manufacturing units, products and features of the air conditioning brand Voltas, and what the architect and design community can look forward to in the future.

Moving on to the panel discussion for the evening, Srivastava invited Supraja Rao of Design House by Supraja Rao to moderate the session. Rao called on the panelists comprising accomplished architects from the region onto the stage for an interesting panel discussion.

Faisal Vohra of F + S Designs articulated his idea of sustainability thus: “When we talk about sustainability and materials, we forget about a very critical factor known as embedded energy. Let’s say, I’m making a green building and using rammed earth for instance, but the soil available locally isn’t good enough to use. If I purchase that particular soil of supreme quality from another location in the country and bring it back to my site, the inherent embedded energy of that material has risen because it’s been transported from one place to another in order to build an eco-friendly building. Understand that embedded energy is very important and local materials sourced with least transference is considered sustainable.

Vohra then gave a brief presentation on one of his renowned projects, Petcart Nest, India’s first eco-friendly pet resort in Sarjapur, Bengaluru.

Shiva Mohan Komaravolu of Scale Design shared his views on the topic sustainability by saying, “Sustainability, in my opinion, starts at a very individual level and can be taken to a very global level as has been discussed the world over. Your choice of food, water, clothing, housing, the comforts you choose, all make a difference to the world.” He briefly shared a few examples of tech savvy projects from his portfolio in which Scale Design is trying to incorporate sustainability, smart living and efficiency, which were: Flinders street station, a 100-year-old train station in Melbourne, Australia; Indus hospital in Vishakhapatnam, and a residential house, to name a few.

According to Nanda Kumar of Nandu Associates, “Sustainability starts at an individual level, if you don’t start at that fundamental unit, it doesn’t transfer up the ladder.” He introduced the audience members to a project by VTN Architects based out of Vietnam, whose mission statement is to green the city of Ho Chi Minh, one building at a time. He urged the budding architects around to take inspiration from VTN Architects for its work on sustainable building.

Shweta Balasubramani of Vistaar Associates said, “Human aspirations are a very personal thing, everyone likes luxury, but the question is what can we collectively do within our capacity to try and do better. Unless we take action, and out of each of our projects if we can put in our excess material into one project to try and build something for let’s say displaced people for instance, we’re all only going to just be talking.” She then went on to share a few examples from various projects in her portfolio.

In summation of the panel discussion, moderator Supraja Rao shared her thoughts on sustainability by saying: “Sustainability is not something which can be talked about in closed rooms; I think it’s a lifestyle; I think it’s important that we all consume less, choose to lead a simpler life, while being efficient; and we should think twice in any consumption we do, not just in architecture or interiors, but anything in our life.”

In conclusion, the panelists were felicitated by Jayaraman of Voltas and his team for the captivating deliberation. The organisers thanked the delegates and speakers for being a part of the forum, and the bar and buffet were declared open for networking and dinner.

PANEL OF EXPERTS
Shweta Balasubramani, Vistaar Associates
Shiva Mohan Komaravolu, Scale Design
Nanda Kumar, Nandu Associates
Supraja Rao, Design House by Supraja Rao
Faisal Vohra, F + S Designs

1. L-R: Faisal Vohra, Shiva Mohan Komaravolu, Shweta Balasubramani, Nanda Kumar and Supraja Rao.
2. Bibhor Srivastava began the event by welcoming the attendees.

3. Vami Koticha delivered the keynote address.

4. The attendees strike a pose.

5. Jayaraman gave a presentation regarding Voltas’ presence in India.

6. Koticha was felicitated by Srivastava and Jayaraman.

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