Close Encounter | Ravindra Kumar, architect and world traveller

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IA&B July 2010

DH Article

Do you feel there is a need to develop suburbs in Bangalore?
How would real estate in suburbs help residential and commercial spaces? 

Of the different domains of design urban design is an oddity. While the design of a machine can be traced to a definite, deliberate act of invention, and even the design of buildings is rooted in known production processes, the design of cities was never seriously attempted until well after cities had become a normal, ordinary aspect of civilized living, and while the design of machines and buildings was a conscious effort to solve a particular problem or set of problems, cities appeared in the landscape spontaneously and without conscious effort. This places the efficacy of urban design in doubt.

There is no need to develop the suburbs in the pace that we see as greed.
How is it possible for what is obviously a human artifact to arise as if by an act of nature? The theory of a spontaneous order provides an explanation. A spontaneous order arises when multiple actors spontaneously adopt a set of actions that provides them with a competitive advantage, and this behavior creates a pattern that is self-sustaining, attracting more actors and growing the pattern.

The headline of the report
“Region’s Home Prices Continue to Fall,  Some Pockets Thrive”

Now before I’m accused of taking joy in falling home prices, let’s be clear that I own a home as well, the price of which has fallen more than I care to say.  What was satisfying is that my theory about the greater volatility of home prices on the suburban edge appears to be reflected on the ground.

The Theory:

Even though regional development patterns have been the same in the past few years as the past few decades  and most housing has been built on the suburban edges,  the market for this suburban edge housing is declining.

changing demographics (fewer households with school age kids),
Longer commute times due to growing traffic congestion,
Higher prices (and the growing realization that they will continue to rise for years to come),
Concern about the need to reduce driving and greenhouse gas emissions.
the growing desire to live in more urbanized settings among the Baby Boomers and their kids, the Echo Boomers.
This theory, of course, is a regional planners dream. If it does occur it should take years, maybe decades to fully play out.

If the theory is correct, though, it will be important for developers, builders, public officials and especially homeowners (at least those who hope to be able to sell their homes for more than they bought them in the future) to understand the coming shift in market forces. Frankly, it may takes years for this shift to become clear.

However, before becoming too smug about this, there is at least one other factor at play here, namely production. It is probable that a large part of the drop in home prices is due to overproduction in the outer parts, and more limited production in the closer in, more developed parts and the District.

That said, oversupply is a function of the relationship of supply and demand.  Real estate in suburbs can not help residential and commercial spaces to a sensibility that a design mechanism can initiate. If the primary reason for the drop in home prices in the region is oversupply, this suggests that demand is lower  to supply than it is in the central business district. In fact, there are still instances in the District of homes being bid up over their offering prices. This suggests there is still demand for housing in the District, while there is little in outskirts. And that the closer a submarket is to the center of the region, the the better balanced supply and demand are.

What does this portend for the future, once the current housing slump is over in a year or two? Will the outer edge markets once again be the hot ones, with the highest home price appreciation and construction? This is possible given the need in India for some million new homes a year on average.

But then again, maybe not. It is just possible that what we see here is the beginning of a real shift in the housing markets, accelerated by the current housing crisis.

What are the challenges as far as development in suburb areas are concerned?
Which are the popular suburban areas in Bangalore?

The disappearance of detail on this anonymous architecture is a significant issue that traces its roots back to the modern movement in architectural theory. Architect Adolf Loos even argued that decoration on buildings was a crime.  As the modernist architects claims to authority increased, the role of the user decreased. After all since forms were believed to be intrinsic to functional solutions, there was no serious reason to consider the form-related preferences of clients. And  the aesthetic attitude may be connected only peripherally with the art of building. I believe that aesthetic requirements may simply be a minor irritation in the practice of the architect. Indeed, after making architecture accessible, sustainable, durable, cost-effective, safe, and productive, there may be little energy left to address the potential morass of aesthetics.

But suburban sprawl and anonymous architecture are just symptoms. The real sickness is an inability to communicate and act on our collective dreams and desires for better places to live, work, and play. Oddly enough, our grandparents were not afflicted with this damaging disease. After all, they built the places many of us love, from the town square in Melukote, Boulevard street near Nanda theatre or the sprawl in Gandhi bazzar.

Architect Christopher Alexander writes about this problem in A Pattern Language. He writes that “towns and buildings will not be able to come alive, unless they are made by all people in society, and unless these people share a common pattern language, within which to make these buildings…” Without such a common language, we are destined to build more sterile office buildings, homogenous housing tracts, and unsightly strip malls.

How can a diverse community define and come to agreement on the principles or “words” required to make up this shared aesthetic language? One approach is to begin with a charrette where the community joins the design team in a collaborative process geared towards developing design principles, analysis documents, and schematic solutions. As part of a charrette, or as a stand-alone exercise, designers can conduct a Visual Preference Survey.
Also, by considering the constraints of modern development as opportunities, architects can leverage the special requirements of today’s owners into more aesthetic design responses that consider the building as a whole rather than a set of isolated systems.

Communities that have decided to address aesthetics challenges have instituted a number of processes that have allowed them to exercise control over the look of new buildings. For example, many municipalities have formed Design Review Committees that analyze design projects, make suggested improvements, and offer recommendations for rejection or approval to the community’s Planning Commission. Likewise, Homeowners’ Associations perform a similar function in planned communities. Additionally, many communities have published guidelines that the design team must follow. These guidelines may address issues as diverse as the placement of buildings on a site, the location of entries, and even the permissible colors. On installations, numerous guidelines influence the design process and address issues such as architectural compatibility, sustainable design, and force protection.

Since the real problem is the loss of a common language for development that most of us understand, agree with, and support, we need to recapture that language. We need to develop a shared vocabulary for design and construction that can guide future physical development. To do this, we first need to look around our cities, suburbs, and towns and ask three questions:

What is working?
Why is it working?
Where can it work in the future?

Identifying and respecting the language of design is one of the first steps to including aesthetics in architectural practice. Creating the “words” that comprise this language of design is a challenging task. These “words” (which have been called patterns, principles, guidelines, etc.) can be specific (like Visible Entries) or they can be more general and address issues of form (i.e., scale, proportion, symmetry, asymmetry, light and shadow, texture, and color), order (i.e., axis, hierarchy, repetition, and rhythm), and meaning (i.e., symbolism and metaphor).

Attractive architecture can also emerge from using the language of design that responds to the complex requirements of today’s environment. Rather than see these requirements as burdens, architects can view them as aesthetic opportunities. For instance, sustainable design may lead to buildings designed to maximize energy conservation through the use of larger windows and more appropriate landscaping, which will contribute to an improved aesthetic. Likewise, durable designs will likely incorporate materials that have an inherent beauty, from brick facing to tile roofs. And safe designs that incorporate elements like stoops and porches that allow for more “eyes on the street” will likely be more attractive than fortress buildings.

Live the life to include. Live the life to Enjoy.

Interview

RVCE Article march 2011

Suburbia

Of the different domains of design urban design is an oddity. While the design of a machine can be traced to a definite, deliberate act of invention, and even the design of buildings is rooted in known production processes, the design of cities was never seriously attempted until well after cities had become a normal, ordinary aspect of civilized living, and while the design of machines and buildings was a conscious effort to solve a particular problem or set of problems, cities appeared in the landscape spontaneously and without conscious effort. This places the efficacy of urban design in doubt.

There is no need to develop the suburbs in the pace that we see as greed.
How is it possible for what is obviously a human artifact to arise as if by an act of nature? The theory of a spontaneous order provides an explanation. A spontaneous order arises when multiple actors spontaneously adopt a set of actions that provides them with a competitive advantage, and this behavior creates a pattern that is self-sustaining, attracting more actors and growing the pattern.

The headline of the report
“Region’s Home Prices Continue to Fall, Some Pockets Thrive”

Now before I’m accused of taking joy in falling home prices, let’s be clear that I own a home as well, the price of which has fallen more than I care to say.  What was satisfying is that my theory about the greater volatility of home prices on the suburban edge appears to be reflected on the ground.

The Theory:

Even though regional development patterns have been the same in the past few years as the past few decades and most housing has been built on the suburban edges, the market for this suburban edge housing is declining.

Changing demographics (fewer households with school age kids),
Longer commute times due to growing traffic congestion,
higher prices (and the growing realization that they will continue to rise for years to come),
Concern about the need to reduce driving and greenhouse gas emissions.
The growing desire to live in more urbanized settings among the Baby Boomers and their kids, the Echo Boomers.
This theory, of course, is a regional planners dream. If it does occur it should take years, maybe decades to fully play out.

If the theory is correct, though, it will be important for developers, builders, public officials and especially homeowners (at least those who hope to be able to sell their homes for more than they bought them in the future) to understand the coming shift in market forces. Frankly, it may take years for this shift to become clear.

However, before becoming too smug about this, there is at least one other factor at play here, namely production. It is probable that a large part of the drop in home prices is due to overproduction in the outer parts, and more limited production in the closer in, more developed parts and the District.

That said, oversupply is a function of the relationship of supply and demand.  Real estate in suburbs cannot help residential and commercial spaces to a sensibility that a design mechanism can initiate. If the primary reason for the drop in home prices in the region is oversupply, this suggests that demand is lower to supply than it is in the central business district. In fact, there are still instances in the District of homes being bid up over their offering prices. This suggests there is still demand for housing in the District, while there is little in outskirts. And that the closer a submarket is to the center of the region, the better-balanced supply and demand are.

What does this portend for the future, once the current housing slump is over in a year or two? Will the outer edge markets once again be the hot ones, with the highest home price appreciation and construction? This is possible given the need in India for some million new homes a year on average.

But then again, maybe not. It is just possible that what we see here is the beginning of a real shift in the housing markets, accelerated by the current housing crisis.

The disappearance of detail on this anonymous architecture is a significant issue that traces its roots back to the modern movement in architectural theory. Architect Adolf Loos even argued that decoration on buildings was a crime.  As the modernist architects claims to authority increased, the role of the user decreased. After all since forms were believed to be intrinsic to functional solutions, there was no serious reason to consider the form-related preferences of clients. And the aesthetic attitude may be connected only peripherally with the art of building. I believe that aesthetic requirements may simply be a minor irritation in the practice of the architect. Indeed, after making architecture accessible, sustainable, durable, cost-effective, safe, and productive, there may be little energy left to address the potential morass of aesthetics.

But suburban sprawl and anonymous architecture are just symptoms. The real sickness is an inability to communicate and act on our collective dreams and desires for better places to live, work, and play. Oddly enough, our grandparents were not afflicted with this damaging disease. After all, they built the places many of us love, from the town square in Melukote, Boulevard Street near Nanda theatre or the sprawl in Gandhi bazaar.

Architect Christopher Alexander writes about this problem in A Pattern Language. He writes that “towns and buildings will not be able to come alive, unless they are made by all people in society, and unless these people share a common pattern language, within which to make these buildings…” Without such a common language, we are destined to build more sterile office buildings, homogenous housing tracts, and unsightly strip malls.

How can a diverse community define and come to agreement on the principles or “words” required to make up this shared aesthetic language? One approach is to begin with a charrette where the community joins the design team in a collaborative process geared towards developing design principles, analysis documents, and schematic solutions. As part of a charrette, or as a stand-alone exercise, designers can conduct a Visual Preference Survey.
Also, by considering the constraints of modern development as opportunities, architects can leverage the special requirements of today’s owners into more aesthetic design responses that consider the building as a whole rather than a set of isolated systems.

Communities that have decided to address aesthetics challenges have instituted a number of processes that have allowed them to exercise control over the look of new buildings. For example, many municipalities have formed Design Review Committees that analyze design projects, make suggested improvements, and offer recommendations for rejection or approval to the community’s Planning Commission. Likewise, Homeowners’ Associations perform a similar function in planned communities. Additionally, many communities have published guidelines that the design team must follow. These guidelines may address issues as diverse as the placement of buildings on a site, the location of entries, and even the permissible colors. On installations, numerous guidelines influence the design process and address issues such as architectural compatibility, sustainable design, and force protection.

Since the real problem is the loss of a common language for development that most of us understand, agree with, and support, we need to recapture that language. We need to develop a shared vocabulary for design and construction that can guide future physical development. To do this, we first need to look around our cities, suburbs, and towns and ask three questions:

What is working?
Why is it working?
Where can it work in the future?

Identifying and respecting the language of design is one of the first steps to including aesthetics in architectural practice. Creating the “words” that comprise this language of design is a challenging task. These “words” (which have been called patterns, principles, guidelines, etc.) can be specific (like Visible Entries) or they can be more general and address issues of form (i.e., scale, proportion, symmetry, asymmetry, light and shadow, texture, and color), order (i.e., axis, hierarchy, repetition, and rhythm), and meaning (i.e., symbolism and metaphor).

Attractive architecture can also emerge from using the language of design that responds to the complex requirements of today’s environment. Rather than see these requirements as burdens, architects can view them as aesthetic opportunities. For instance, sustainable design may lead to buildings designed to maximize energy conservation through the use of larger windows and more appropriate landscaping, which will contribute to an improved aesthetic. Likewise, durable designs will likely incorporate materials that have an inherent beauty, from brick facing to tile roofs. And safe designs that incorporate elements like stoops and porches that allow for more “eyes on the street” will likely be more attractive than fortress buildings.

Live the life to include. Live the life to Enjoy.

Animistic Thinking

Animistic thinking

My interest is in epistemology, the theory of reasoning/ scientific which, among other things, ask questions about the origin or foundation of logic and mathematics, and of basic concepts. In the search for answers, some epistemologists have made historical studies of the origin of happenings and scientific concepts in thinking and practical activities.

But since our life stabilized, its basic physical and mental structures have been passed on from generation to generation, the cognitive development of our remote ancestors and that of today’s most advanced scientists has started at birth from the same base level along a trajectory determined by the infants physical constitution, innate instincts and patterns of behavior.

Once the mental imagery appears, perception and imagination interact on one another in ways that replace innate instincts and patterns of behavior as the motor that drives development.

At the beginning, this process is completely unconscious, but at certain moments, in phase with the development of language and other symbolic activity, the mental imagery becomes the object of conscious reflection.

From then on, the levels of perception, of imagination, and of conscious reflection interact in ways that keep the overall system in a state of dynamic balance – propelling cognitive development, not only through childhood but, potentially at least, throughout life.

Out of the primordial, unstructured world in which the newborn infant finds himself, progressively differentiated conceptions emerge and evolve along intertwined lines.

Along one line, the child gradually recognizes that things, and the space in which they are embedded, are governed by topological, metric and projective regularity, and finally arrives at the notion of space as an infinite, homogeneous and isotopic continuum.

The absence of a sense of self explains the child’s animistic perception of the world, that is the absence of the distinction between living and non-living things. like the child himself, everything has feelings of pleasure and pain and movement and other change are thought of as properties inherent in the individual things themselves.

Since it is not a question of conscious ‘fishing’, or of memory in any ordinary sense, advanced ideas are sometimes born when rudimentary ideas pop up at an appropriate moment from the deep unconscious past as inspiration for renewed reflection.

As you say from the movies, from the people we rejoice or from the places we travel.

Architecture is such an expanded field. It is so important to do other things than just build.  The built rises out of other ideations.
These ideations give conviction to the lines on the dwgs. I feel even the movies we watch give us new thoughts for contemplation and Art definitely does. I love Architecture. what it helps me explore and make myself as a person.I feel blessed.

Skin Rigorism

Skin Rigorism

Call it skin Rigorism.

Or rather it is nomenclatures preamble.

The eye is the organ of distance and separation, whereas touch is the sense of nearness, intimacy and affection.

The eye surveys, controls and investigates, whereas touch approaches and caresses.

During overpowering emotional experiences, we tend to close off the distancing sense of vision.

we close our eyes when dreaming, listening to music, or caressing our beloved ones.

Deep shadows and darkness are essential, because they dim the sharpness of vision, make depth and distance ambiguous, and invite unconscious peripheral vision and tactile fantasy.

“The Eyes of the Skin…”, Juhani Pallasmaa writes about the bias towards vision in our culture as a whole and in the architectural practice in particular.

Buildings are foremost conceived based on the way they look, not how the body interacts with them.

By dimming the light and restriction vision, we are able to take in the full extent of our surroundings, the way it smells, sounds and feels.

In this way, the experience of an architectural space can penetrate our consciousness, letting our body feel the full extent of a place and strengthening our existential experience.

Twilight is the time before sunrise, called dawn, and the time after sunset, called dusk.

Sunlight scattered in the upper atmosphere illuminates the lower atmosphere, and the surface of the Earth is not completely lit or completely dark.

The sun itself is not actually visible because it has not yet come over the horizon (sunrise) or it has passed below the horizon (sunset).

As daylight becomes scarce, not only do our bodies become more and more open to our other senses, but our imagination is also stimulated.

Pallasmaa continues:
Homogeneous bright light paralyzes the imagination in the same way that homogenization of space weakens the experience of being, and wipes away the sense of place.

The human eye is most perfectly tuned for twilight rather than bright daylight.

This full involvement with a space is what I am hoping to achieve with the design of the dark.

A space not necessarily completely dark but with little enough light to be able to feel the space to completely.

Kanade’s always said this in many ways. The idea of a library in Louis Khan idiom.

By being in a “forest” is the peripheral vision as important as the direct gaze and the structure of the trunks, echo from the walls and the sense of the body climbing up and down the hilly landscape all form equal parts in the spatial experience.

Therefore.

Herzog de meuron is not accurate on judgment.

He is looking at the tail to be an elephant.