Don’t just think, feel the green

Man’s ego makes or breaks eco-dreams, feels architect 

Once earlier we discussed how preaching the eco-friendly idea could be quite different from practising it. Today, we continue on another similar track, just trying to retrospect. Has ‘going green and living with nature’ become another slogan like ‘love thy neighbour’, which mostly gets stated because it is rarely done? After all, what happens by default need not be advised and what is advised does not happen otherwise. If so, is all the media buzz about the alternate, sustainable living rooted in our unsustainable attitudes which harm the nature?

Run-of-the-mill

We know what appears perfectly normal in Bangalore: rectangular box-like plans, completely plastered and painted walls, lintel at 7′ height, standard windows in the centre of the wall, increased use of RCC for increased number of columns and beams, plans full of passages, front-sloping RCC roof covered by Mangalore tiles, rear part with flat RCC roof and finally, few elements of beautification thrown in for front looks.

Different take at Auroville

Try this at Auroville, near Pondicherry, where what we call as the green design is the only design approach. The standard building of Bangalore is bound to look strange there, but then Auroville is an exception than the rule. The rule is, what we call as the eco-friendly house, will look out of place in any typical city in India today.

Why such a state of minimal or even negligible acceptance for ideas that may reduce the harm on earth, if not fully save the earth? It is a paradox that not building at all could be the only way to protect nature, but building is the only way to protect human beings. As such, our challenge lies in balancing both.

Reality: Balancing eco and human needs is a challenge for architects

Or, is the conflict within all of us, which reflects a hypocrisy between what we know and what we desire? This reflection is necessary even for the consultants of green architecture, to hopefully understand why most of our knowledge do not get translated as built structures.

Even most of us architects and engineers make a difference only in the plan form evolved as per client needs or in elevation ensuring the building looks prominent on the street front. Even after decades of research and proven track record in many alternative ideas, why are we apprehensive about employing them? How many of us care to reduce resource consumption or study about embodied energy?

The word ‘ego’, it appears, plays a greater role in the making or breaking of our eco dreams. During the early days of experimentation, after Laurie Baker, architect Bindumadhava would ask – are you an eco-friendly architect or an ego-friendly architect? Most of us desire to project our ideas as unique, our house as different and our building as iconic. Ideals of creativity tell us to form our own rules and live without compromising. Alternately, to be eco-friendly, we need to go humble, following the proven paths of sustainability and designing the simple truths.

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Posted on January 15, 2011, in designs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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