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 style windows.

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 soul-less cities.
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 its unity.

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 them.

Avinash Thombre

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 city indeed.

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:

  • Over speeding

  • 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 affiliations.

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

  • Auto drivers

  • Lorry Drivers

  • Two wheeler drivers

  • Private motorists

  • 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 pursuing.

Zafar Futehally

Dumping garbase where it should not be dumped

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 society.

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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