Faculty and Programme in Charge (M Arch Urban Design), Dept. of ArchitectureCollege of Engineering (CET), Trivandrum, Govt of Kerala
Among the many themes that the ET A&D Summit 2015 puts under the scanner, some of the key ones include understanding and adapting the latest design trends, sustainable designs and upcoming technologies to improve the infrastructure despite challenges like land crunches, rocketing resource costs, managing the talent pool and uncertainty in the whole environment.
Urbanization and the State
According to Kerala State Urbanization Reports, Kerala is characterized by diversified human habitat. The human settlement pattern of the State is characterized with dwellings made in individual plots, scattered all over the habitable area. Almost all other parts in India have nucleated built–up area in a settlement surrounded by rural hinter land. But Kerala shows an urban and rural settlement pattern manifested with an urban–rural continuum having a fairly uniform spread of dwelling units. In other words the population is distributed more or less evenly over the entire state. Thus comparing with other parts of India, Kerala is distinguished with comparatively low population density development in urban areas and high population density in rural areas. This distinctive pattern of human habitat has got many development issues. State Urbanization Report (SUR) discusses these issues in detail.
2011 census shows that Kerala has undergone the highest level of urbanization (47.71%) during 2001-11, with a percentage increase of 83.20 over the previous decade. The analysis shows that areal reclassification of a hitherto rural area as urban, due to the shift in the occupational structure from agriculture to other categories of employment causes such a huge urbanization in the state. The report observes that in a state like Kerala marked by scattered settlement, physical dimension also should be taken into account while designating an area as urban. The SUR identifies the present urbanization of Kerala as an urban spread rather than the result of the structural changes in the economy of the state. The report envisages a compact urban form and visualizes urban areas as instrument for the development of rural hinterland, besides being engines of development of Kerala. The report traces a strategy of urban clusters in 2021 and urban corridors in 2031. The report recommends that this urban profile shall be refined as an integral part of a regulated spatial structure of the state defined through spatio – economic plans at the state, district as well as local levels. The report also chalks out strategies for the compaction of different kind of urban areas up to the limit prescribed.
The SUR also says that there are development issues intrinsic to the unique human settlement pattern of the State before the people. The findings and suggestions of the report require wider discussions in the interest of development of the State, among the decision makers, planners, experts and Industry stake holders.
Problems faced by Industry
There are certain problems faced by industry and professionals in the State. The acute shortage of building materials and rising prices delays the growth and affects the quality. Labour management and availability is another major concern. In a state like Kerala with limited resources and ecologically sensitive, it is difficult to proceed or continue with the traditional way of building. Increased awareness among the people and Govt restrictions and planning architectural controls by the state demands the Our Buildings have to be eco-friendly, economical and sustainable. Sustainable and Green architecture are the Keywords for the century and especially the coming years.
- Have we geared up to take this challenge?
- How much research is happening in our state regarding this?
- How many professionals are coming up with new ideas and Technologies?
- How many Industries are supporting with new products and technology?
- How many professionals are practicing in these lines?
Another Major challenge regarding the Industry is to develop technology to develop products (materials, design and deliverance) to with stand the tropical wet climatic zone of the region. Many building products do fail in this climatic zone and it affects the quality of the building and the life in it. Region specific products and design is to be developed to overcome this.
Transforming Residential architecture, Trends and Challenges
The recent years have seen major changes in the way people conceive spaces and residences. They are selective in identifying their habitats. The concept of comfort, safety and aesthetics has transformed a lot in the recent past due to different socio-economic-cultural parameters. This is evident in the market by the way the projects are coming up. The building foot print is on the rise and the carrying capacity is challenged day by day. It is to be noted here that we need strict planning policy to conserve the land resources and available open spaces (pubic) and green spaces (nature) for a better future for our coming generations.
The changing skylines of the cities all over Kerala see dotted with high rise structures. Green houses and sustainable eco-friendly houses are on demand.
Traditional farmstead houses are no more an exciting entity for the larger population rather a luxury for a few rich. The concepts of Shared living have been accepted due to reasons of safety, Economy, maintenance and managing ease and accessibility to basic amenities. Gated communities and townships are on the rise.
Lifestyle changes have demanded new spaces like media room, Home theatre, library, elaborate bathrooms etc and there is an increased use of new gadgets and automated systems and this has resulted in new prototypes of houses.
There is a need to research more in to sustainable, ecofriendly and cost effective technology and building materials in the coming future, we may have to think about factory made houses that can be carried from place to another. They can be custom made or factory made prefabricated units that can be bought and assembled. Though it may sound funny at this point of time, it is going to be the final option in resource deficient, ecologically sensitive and labour crunchy state like Kerala
Transforming commercial trends and challenges
The traditional shops have given away to super Shoppe concepts and mall concepts. The way commercial spaces are conceived has been transformed many fold in recent years. The concept of leisure and entertainment linked with commerce has given rose to new demands and typologies. Many of the commercial spaces are also a part of public spaces. There is a need to share the common commercial spaces for public use and this will further increase the commercial demand and accessibility to built up areas/here again we need to work up on site specific development controls and regulations based on the demand in each quadrant of the city.
Mixed use commercial establishments are the solution for this especially in city centres like Cochin (M.G. road). There should be separate access roads or service roads to the commercial clusters from each node and the Bypass oriented commercial ribbon development should be discouraged.
Commercial clusters demand larger open space for parking and related amenities.
There is a need to relook the way we design public commercial building and the way we structure them in the cities. As seen it is high time to develop residential-commercial (retail) clusters in cities at selected areas with all amenities and link it up with proper city level networking system.