Bangalore Environment Trust Newsletter, February 1993
Sat, 03/03/2007 - 19:59 — admin
The Mission of Architects
Architects have become an identifiable profession in Bangalore
these days what with the city being recognised as amongst the
fastest growing in the world. In this process, there are a number
of professionals contributing to the cityscape of Bangalore.
There are a number of problems created by the professionals, more
often than not under duress from Clients or the Authorities. Our
task as Architects seems to be concerned with the re-
interpretation of the familiar for the peace of mind of the user.
In reality, we should be involved with the enjoyment of the
unexpected. There is a tendency amongst architects to look inwards
within the buildings that are designed at the expense of
neglecting the surrounding environment. The building is seen as a
creationby itself without any relevance to its surroundings. As
might be noticed in the current outcrop of buildings, our version
of post-modern architecture in Bangalore is one that 'stops at the
front door', a decorative front facade has hardly any relationship
to the rear and side elevations of the same building. The front
facade will have bloated keystones, false columns rising from the
first floor upwards, fake pediments and other ornamentation whilst
the other facades are a single plane punctured by the standard
Moreover, it appears that Architects reach their initial proposals
too quickly, followed by a tortuous process of refinement. Perhaps
we should be advocating a slow painful initial concept stage.
Could it be that the clients are putting the pressure on
considering the fact that the clock is ticking?
Another factor is the bye-laws. The all too familiar approach
imposed by Clients is to treat them with disdain. It must be
clearly understood that the Bye-Laws set out minimum standards for
the provision of light, air, amenity, etc. for the individual
building as well as the surrounding ones. The normal approach
however, seems to be one where the Bye-Laws are treated as the
starting point from which to look for all the loopholes to
increase the possibilities of building coverage.
Here, it must be pointed out that the worst offenders are the
public buildings, whose perpetrators consider themselves above and
beyond the law. Should it not be that Public buildings set the
example of creating the highest standards for others to emulate?
Moreover, it is also true that the Bye-Laws need to be updated.
The updating could also involve going back to the possibilities of
having some of our old Indian patterns of cities being made
possible. By this, I mean, areas like the 'city' settlement of
Bangalore where the Indian pattern of buildings and development
are functional, appropriate and beautiful to the Indian way of
life, with their narrow lanes, houses built wall to wall with
courtyards within providing light and air and privacy. Moreover,
with this pattern a fairly high density is obtained without
resorting to high buildings and the use of elevators, etc. These
areas have a great character and quality about them. Surely,
provision could be made for vehicles to be parked in nodal areas,
whilst the access to the houses could be walking streets. In this
way, the vehicle will not overpower our well being. It appears
that our bye-laws as they are now do not allow us to do this. Of
course, the high rise could come up in other appropriate areas
where offices, shops, etc. might be required.
The process of building has become a convenient compromise between
Authority, Client, Architect and Contractor. Buildings are getting
more and more isolated, cut off from one another by traffic,
parking and aimless unused open space. We are planning very poorly
for the motor vehicle. Cycles and two wheelers are parked all over
the place and shows the total lack of attention to this need. In
reality, new buildings should link in to the city network and to
each other to increase their connectivity. The lack of many of
these aspects has caused the development of many of these
The idea that there is something wrong with the World's cities is
hardly new. There has been a failure of prescriptions put forward
to remedy them. Our normal approach has been mainly through
fragmented interventions. Our architecture consequently, tends to
become the massings of personal whims, along with the laws of real
estate. This outcome is due to the misconception that there cannot
be variety when there is unity. To prove this wrong, we only have
to look towards nature, which has such incredible variety despite
We as Architects must realize that the spaces we create can be
therapeutic and good for the well being of people, a majority of
whom spend most of their lives within them. This is to be achieved
consciously through the creation of spaces having the right
quality to provide a stimulating yet peaceful environment within
A project to improve the Transport
Condition of Bangalore
There are many things wrong with Bangalore, as they are with all
cities in India, but one has the feeling that the transport
situation is central to the chaos which exists. Chaotic and
dangerous traffic is the centrifugal force which results in
disorder all round. What would Bangalore be like if there was
courtesy on the roads instead of fierce competition to get ahead,
if there was no unnecessary horning, if two wheelers did not weave
through traffic and kept to their lanes, if buses did not charge
through the streets (even the narrowest ones) terrorizing everyone
and quite frequently causing serious accidents, if drivers
followed the simple but the effective rule of giving way to
traffic on the right.... We would be living in a very pleasant
Is this an impossible dream ?
It will only be a dream as long as we continue to curse everyone else
without taking any steps ourselves. Certainly the BET and other
like minded bodies must get together and discuss the feasibility
of a joint plan of action.
What can be our line of action ?
Meet the management of the BTS and tell them that the following
rules are being ignored and what can be done about it:
Non observance of silence zones
Short cuts round traffic islands
Parking anywhere at the whim of the driver
Merciless use of the air horn
Discourteous and dangerous driving
Management must prohibit the use of loud-speakers and garlands and
other decoration on buses. Political slogans, flags etc. must be
prohibited. Public transport has to be neutral in its political
Discuss the same points with members of the BTS Union. Apparently
the BTS does organise "lessons" for drivers, and we must request
that we be allowed to speak to them.
Discuss the same points with the Police
Consider the production of a brochure specifically for BTS
drivers, in Kannada, Tamil and English emphasising the rules of
good driving as well as the attitude of mind of a good driver.
Suggesting that the driver of a public transport is an important
member of society, and has a crucial role to play in the life of
the city. Recognition of good performance is vital to the progress
of any scheme. We could identify persons who regularly travel on
certain routes, and based on their reports award Certificates and
prizes to drivers who deserve them. In course of time the feeling
might spread that winning the respect of the public is better than
being in a state of tension with them. Obviously the brochure has
to be sensitively and expertly produced.
We would have to have the same sort of discussion and the same
follow up action with
Two wheeler drivers
Public sector Companies
Secetaries of Government
Press and TV
A sticker with the message "Your safety is our responsibility" (or
something similar) might be of help in our campaign.
I would like to know whether you consider this project worth
Dumping garbase where it should not be
The disposal of solid waste is a worldwide problem and we in
Bangalore have to think of some imaginative ways for getting rid
of this unwanted material. Dirt is matter in the wrong place. If
we put it in the right place it can become a useful asset to our
The photograph shows the dumping which is taking place on the
Hennur-Bagalur Road. The land on which the rubbish is dumped
is prime paddy land and I remember the delightful sight of the
paddy fields in the monsoon months a few years ago before the
land started to be devastated. Many residents nearby have
signed a petition to the authorities against this dumping.
The area concerned is also a kind of a flood plain where water
from the higher lands surrounding it used to flow through it
in the monsoon months at least whenever there was a heavy
rainfall for several days continually. Quite often the road
alongside which the dumping is done would be covered with
water a foot deep. When this natural flow of water is arrested
we can foresee serious trouble in days to come.
The answer of the Municipality probably is "show us an alternative
site". Well, Bangalore still has spaces where it would be
ecologicallyless unwise to do the dumping, and I am sure with a
proper survey such sites can be found. It may be more expensive in
economic terms to find several dumps in appropriate locations, but
ecologically speaking and in sociological costs such a move would
be advantageous to the City.
Ultimately of course we have to convert solid waste into useful
energy and technology for this is available. The Shivashankar
Engineering Co. Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, have made a proposal to the
Government and we cannot understand why they are not being allowed
to proceed with their plans. I quote briefly from their report
"Municipal Solid Waste is a heterogeneous conglomerate of varying
composition. Any two samples will not be identical. The process is
one of segregation of combustibles, and non-combustibles in a
series of steps, and then compacting the combustibles into the
convenient form of pellets.
The garbage is first subjected to a magnetic separation before a
cutting operation for reduction of size to mamageable level.
This mixture is fed on to the pelletiser. The pellets that drop
out from the pelletiser are screened and cooled in a coolet before
bagging. If bulk dispatches have to be made, then the pellets are
conveyed to a storage silo from where pellets will be unloaded
onto trucks for despatch."
The Plant can be set up in a garbage dumping yard. This will
obviate additional transport cost. The life span of the dumping
yard would increase manifold as the material being dumped is very
much reduced by volume after processing. Also, since the refuse
has gone through a heating process, the open dump will no more be
a vulnerable public health hazard.
The Company has agreed to find its own resources and all that it
needs is Municipal clearance. I think the least that the public of
Bangalore should do is to press the authorities not to merely
approve of the scheme but give it their wholehearted support.
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