The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2019
Berkeley Prize 2019

Muskaan Jain and Gurinder Singh Proposal

Designing for Climate and Climate Change: A Paradigm Shift

“Architecture is the thoughtful making of space (Louis Kahn).” The art of building construction is not only restricted to aesthetic structures but how those built up spaces affect their users and the environment. For several years now, mankind has observed the wrath of climate change. Surprisingly enough, buildings contribute to more than 40% of carbon emissions in the environment. However, if architects consider climate to be a major design imperative, future constructions will not only withstand climate change but also help in its prevention.

To understand this better we must look into the past and realize that traditional architecture was much more climate responsive than its modern counterpart.

“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” Gohar Mahal (palace), built in 1820 by the first woman ruler of Bhopal, was rehabilitated into an urban haat. The ambiance of the space has attracted urban dwellers for a long time, carrying forward the cultural legacy of the country in the form of textile, handicraft and local art exhibits. The building has a solar passive design which integrates the properties of thermal mass, solar orientation, courtyards, verandas, wind catchers and shading devices ensuring thermal comfort of the users by maintaining the micro-climate of the space and hence, plays along well with the humid sub-tropical climate of Bhopal.

Owing to Madhya Pradesh’s ancient relation with tribal communities, the M.P. Tribal Museum, constructed in 2013, expresses rich tribal culture of the state, thereby promoting coexistence of tribal with urban. It is a marvel of modern architecture emphasizing on climate responsive design, constituting multilevel verandas which pierce into the built mass, thus inviting light and air. The landscaping facilitates rain water harvesting further helping in the irrigation of gardens and green roofs. The galleries, which have high ceilings, revolving chimneys, perforated screens on walls along with the open and narrow corridors of the complex, contribute to effective cross ventilation and stack ventilation thereby maintaining proper air flow within the building. Large overhangs on the west-facing facade of the building cut the direct glare of sun. Hence, considering the large scale of the project, use of mechanical devices for cooling and lighting is minimal.

Being future architects we must respect our site and its surroundings. An innovative approach for preventing climate change is choosing and redeveloping a site which has previously been constructed upon instead of selecting a fresh site which might require clearing up of green land.

It is important to understand the fundamental principle of reuse, reduce and recycle. We should aim at making the net consumption of energy in a building zero. This can be achieved by producing energy using renewable resources to attain self-sufficiency. This technique can be further enhanced if the building produces surplus energy that not only fulfills its own demands but also suffices the energy requirements of other surrounding structures.

Also, naturally available light and air must be incorporated to lower the use of mechanical devices for lighting and temperature control. In this way, we will not only take control of the carbon being emitted from our buildings but also make them cost and energy-efficient, finally leading to sustainability.

For a long time, architects have built structures which have survived the course of time. Now with the advancement in technology and potential, we should start designing for a better tomorrow by creating spaces which not only serve as an asset to humans but to the nature as well.

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The quaint facade of Gohar Mahal overlooking the Upper Lake of Bhopal
The quaint facade of Gohar Mahal overlooking the Upper Lake of Bhopal
The Tribal Museum: Transforming time into space
The Tribal Museum: Transforming time into space
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