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Buildings, Needs and 'Sustainability'

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Sustainable ArchitectureProf. Avlokita AgrawalDepartment of Architecture & PlanningIndian Institute of Technology, RoorkeeLecture – 02Buildings, Needs and SustainabilityGood morning. I am Dr. Avlokita Agrawal, Assistant Prof. at Department ofArchitecture and Planning, IIT Roorkee. Today, I am going to start the second lecture inthe course on Sustainable Architecture. In the previous lecture we discussed about theproblems, the issues why are we discussing about sustainable architecture orsustainability at large. And, towards the end of the previous lecture we saw what are theproblems that we are facing today.Now, as we move on we will gradually be focusing more on the architecture and howarchitecture can be made sustainable, what are the ways to it. But, before we really dothat we have to identify what are the problems with architecture or building activity.And, before we even do that we have to understand what is happening around us, whyare we building and when we are building we are making these buildings; what are theissues, what are the problems.So, through this lecture second lecture we would try to answer some of these questions.The first and the most pertinent one is why at all do we build? Why are we making thesebuildings, all these different kinds of buildings which are there why do we build them?The next how buildings cater to our different needs. So, when the answer why do webuild? We build for our needs and how these buildings are catering to our needs,different needs; it might seem a very simple question and seemingly simple answer, butit is really not.So, let us look into why are we building and how these buildings are catering to ourneeds and then are our needs changing with the change changing requirement, changingenvironment, context as I say. So, if the change in context is there, is there a change inour response which is needed to. So, let us try to answer these questions through thislecture. (Refer Slide Time: 02:45)So, the first and foremost question is why do we build? We build for our needs and if welook at the Maslow’s hierarchy, where Sir Abraham Maslow proposed our needs wecategorized in a hierarchical manner, in a pyramid where at the bottom of it we have thephysiological needs, followed by the needs for safety and security, love and belonging,self esteem and the final one is the need for self actualization. So, these are basic needs,the basic needs being the physiological needs without the fulfillment of physiologicalneeds we cannot move ahead. We cannot move up to fulfill our needs of self esteem andself actualization.However, many have argued that often to reach the need of self actualization people haverenounced the world and skipped all these needs, these basic needs and directly jumpedfrom the basic needs to the needs of self actualization. However, that does not happenwhen these needs have never been fulfilled. It often happens when these needs have beenfulfilled and then the person renounces them, renounces those needs and leads himself tothe need of self actualization. Now, when I write here the need, want and value there is apurpose to it. So, we have a physiological need, physiological need of protectingourselves from the environmental adversities; the rain, the harsh weather, the animalsaround us.So, these this is the physiological need, we need to sleep, we need to keep ourselvescomfortable. And, then the need was safety, security, love and belonging where we want a family or community to stay together with us. We have the need for ourself as esteemand then gradually that need transforms itself into a want. What I mean by it is I want aresidence for myself, I want a home for myself, any individual because that is myphysiological need.But, instead of just wanting a home which is sufficient enough to fulfill the basicphysiological need of mine, I want a 2 BHK house and then I want a 3 BHK house andthen I want a bungalow and I want this and I want that. So, my wants are arising out ofthe need, but they are not the basic needs as we understand. And, gradually the needswhich have transformed themselves into wants, the wants will then transform thisthemselves into a value; value which is a collective value of a society, a cultural value.So, then culturally some things start getting valued. If you look at developed countries,now everyone will have a certain standard of living, a lifestyle which is what becomesthe value. So, here in India in rural communities we might be valuing sustainability moreor traditionally that is what some of the native tribes across the world might have beendoing; valuing the environmental resource more than the kind of lifestyle we are lookingat. So, the need giving rise to wants has created a certain value system.Now, when we go on to understand what is it that we need and whether it is sustainableor not; we often confuse ourselves between the need, the want and the values of thesociety. And, we often weigh our requirements, the requirement for a building basedupon the cultural value of that community and the context. So, it has to be very clearlyunderstood and then examined whether what we are really wanting, looking for is a needor it is a transformed value based requirement. (Refer Slide Time: 07:21)So, here we the physiological needs will help us to survive, the safety and security needswill help us to progress. The love and belonging, the needs at this level help us tosocialize because you know, we are social people. And, then the need for self esteemhelps us to achieve and self actualization is the top most where we create, we becomecreative something new.(Refer Slide Time: 07:55)Let us look at how buildings have been providing for these needs. Now, this is one of themost primitive kind of homes that human beings have sheltered themselves in. Now, this was naturally available; man did not create, but he occupied a space like that. And itfulfilled the very basic fundamental needs, the physiological needs and part of the safetyneeds not security, safety. Safety from animals, safety from all other enemies of sorts.(Refer Slide Time: 08:41)This is what it was, gradually it is transformed to a group of these buildings whichcatered to the physiological needs as well as the safety needs. Because, humans realizedthat staying together in groups and forming a community helped them stay safer; becausethey are not the strongest of the people if they are along, strongest of the species livingbeing. So, they are stronger when they stay together. So, they started staying together ingroups and they formed these groups of houses, moved on to more introvert planninglike that very similar to the previous one. (Refer Slide Time: 09:29)But instead of linear group of buildings, they moved into an enclosed group of buildingwhere a community was staying together, fulfilling their physiological needs and safetyneeds at this level as well. Along with that they were able to fulfill their needs forbelongingness, love because they were staying together; human beings would often dothat.(Refer Slide Time: 09:55)Then we see more permanent structures like this one Haveli which has been convertedinto a museum in Ludhiana which was actually a haveli, a residential building a large one of course, and of more permanent nature. And, moving from a temporary a hut kindof building to a permanent building like this that we see on the screen. Here it fulfills thephysiological needs, most definitely; safety and security needs. Now, here the kind ofresponse that we see there are very less of openings, it is a courtyard building, it has ajali, parapet on the top of the building where from outside people cannot actually seethem using the terrace of their house.And, it was because of the socio-political context of that place and those times whereprobably a lot of invasions were happening; so, this was the response to that. Now, if youcompare, if we compare the previous building; the slide which I just shown this one tothis one. We can very clearly see that it is quite resource intensive, but it is out and out acontextual response. So, whenever we are examining the buildings, the responses wehave to very clearly look at look in context to which each building or solution hasresponded to. We will come to that gradually, let us look at couple of more exampleshere.(Refer Slide Time: 11:29)Now, this is Jodhpur city, now here I am looking at a settlement and we are looking atfulfillment of physiological needs, safety and security needs. The needs forbelongingness as a community or bigger community which also provides them the selfesteem because they have created an identity for themselves which we see happeningalmost all over the world in different settlements. (Refer Slide Time: 12:03)This is Bungas of Rajasthan where along with the basic, physiological, safety andsecurity and belongingness needs, they are creating an identity for themselves. And, thisidentity is fulfilling the need for self esteem for them.(Refer Slide Time: 12:21)Looking at the huts of Cameroon; so, this physiological response if you look at thisBunga in Rajasthan to this hut in Cameroon both these places have similar kind of aclimatic requirement, a very harsh climate. So, a very similar design response, thecommunity requirement and the sense, the need for belongingness, the need for community to be staying together is similar. So, the response is also similar, but becauseof the resources which are available the responses are varying slightly.So, here again we would see the physiological, safety and security, belongingness andthe need to create an identity which is the need for self esteem. So, buildings have beenfulfilling all those needs, people have been creating identity, self esteem through the kindof responses, through the kind of buildings they have been creating.(Refer Slide Time: 13:23)We move on to bigger buildings say a fort. So, this is Mahava fort, now it fulfilsphysiological needs, safety and security needs. So, the security concern s in the timeswhen these forts were constructed, the feudal age where there were a lot of wars, a lot ofa conflicts happening politically and this fort responds to that. So, the need forbelongingness of a larger community, a state, a Riyasat (meaning fort) for example. So,the this sense of belongingness was for a larger community. And, then the self esteem so,this fort was a symbolism, a symbol of self esteem for the people of this entire state. (Refer Slide Time: 14:19)Other forts, Narsinghgarh fort; now physiological, safety, security, belongingness, selfesteem all these needs and in the process when all these means were being fulfilledpeople were becoming more and more creative. We can see a lot of creativity cominginto architecture which is actually fulfilling the last ladder, the tip of the needs which isfor self actualization.Now, self actualization is not always spiritual, the creativity all pursuits, all differentforms of art are actually taking us towards self actualization because we are becomingmore and more creative. We are creating, we are not just responding to the needs, we arebecoming more and more creative; buildings help us to fulfill that. (Refer Slide Time: 15:13)All the forts Chittorgarh fort and this beautiful architecture, that we see is actually theresponse to man’s self actualization needs which is what we see here. Now, it is not onlyin the robust huge, big buildings like forts; it is seen in the small residential buildings.(Refer Slide Time: 15:31)For example this hut and the one and this hut being painted by Warli art. Now, this isusing the most local, it is not permanent, it is temporary in nature. It is it gets painted andrepainted over and over again. And, then people create identity which is actually catering to their needs of self esteem and also self actualization through creation of this art formand that imparts them this identity and gives a sense of fulfillment through creativity.(Refer Slide Time: 16:11)The culmination of this can be seen in a building like Taj Mahal. Here we are looking atfulfillment of physiological, safety, security. We will come to that again, we will come toall these examples again and see whether they are doing that belongingness of course,self esteem and the pinnacle of it the self actualization.(Refer Slide Time: 16:35) If we look at some of the Chhatris. So, we looking at physiological, probably safety andsecurity was not as much a concern or it has not been catered to; love, belongingnesswhich was the sole purpose of creating a building like this or Chhatri like this; selfesteem and self actualization through the creativity embedded. Now, in these twoprevious examples Taj Mahal and Chhatri and all other examples, where we see howpeople have been creative. We see how the need for self actualization has been fulfilled.(Refer Slide Time: 17:13)While, in some of the buildings like this one, this is Takshila, University. The need forself actualization has been fulfilled through the purpose of the building or purpose of thebuilt environment itself. So, the need for creation of a university, a place where peoplecome, the community at large comes together and acquires knowledge itself is a purposewhich takes us towards self actualization. So, it is not just by virtue of the beautifularchitecture, we can still see a lot of motives and the kind of architecture which we areseeing here. So, not just by virtue of what has been created in the physical sense, but byvirtue of its purpose itself.And, then the pinnacle of it say in terms of Kandariya Mahadev, where religion has beendepicted. Now, religion often has been a vehicle, a medium for people to for selfactualization, fulfilling the need for self actualization. And, creation of a building likethis strengthens, reinforces or helps us fulfill as a community the need for self actualization. Again the need for safety and security have been overpowered by the needfor belongingness, self esteem and self actualization here.(Refer Slide Time: 18:45)Or in one of the Chaitya halls, we again see that the need for self actualization has beenfulfilled more than the need for safety and security. Of course, the need for safety andsecurity was also fulfilled by virtue of the location of this building where it has beenconstructed, where it has been built, but other needs are more pronounced here. So, webuild for different reasons, we build for different purposes and each of this reason andpurpose actually defines, fulfills some of the need and defines the purpose of humanexistence itself. (Refer Slide Time: 19:29)Now, the question comes can we sustain the building activity? So, can we sustain thebuilding activity for all the above buildings which I have shown above? If yes, they aresustainable and if no then probably they are not sustainable. And, if no then why not canwe sustain them, let us go over each of these examples again and see if they areexamples of sustainable buildings, can they be sustained in simple terms. Before eventalking about the definition or the proper understanding of what a sustainable building ora sustainable architecture would be, we would try to see in very common layman termswhether this building can sustain or not.Let us look at off each of this example: can we sustain this? Yes of course. Why? Simplybecause, there is no environmental resource which has been consumed, there is noeconomic resource which has been consumed, no manpower is required. However, intoday’s times if you question; can we start living in these caves? No, I do not say thatbecause we have a certain lifestyle expectation; even if we were comfortable living inthese caves we would not be able to live in these. Because, there is a limit to how manysuch accommodations may be made available because, it is naturally available.Yes, we can sustain it from an environmental point of view, but from a societal point ofview probably we may not be able to sustain that. It will not provide accommodation tobillions and billions of people that we have around. Can this type of an accommodationor building be sustained? Yes, because it consumes very limited environmental resource, it requires almost no economic resource, it requires limited manpower for which humanshave developed the skill. So, this can be sustained, yes it is sustainable. This one yesagain for the same reasons, we can sustain it, we can sustain it.Can this one be sustained? Well, maybe when I was discussing about this example wetalked about the context for which this kind of an architecture was developed. So, therewere a lot of invasions happening, there were a lot of fights being taking place. So, yes itconsumes significant environmental resource, it consumes significant economic resourceand high amount of manpower is required. But, from socio cultural point of view, if welook at the utility of this building; so, each of this haveli was housing hundreds of peopleof a large extended family.So, one large building was not for a small family, it was for a larger number of people.So, the utilitarian perspective comes in to picture here and for that context it wasappropriate. In today’s context it may still remain appropriate, contextual and hence itmay sustain or if the socio-cultural context has totally changed then it may not sustain.Here, we are looking at a larger community like Jodhpur city part of it, can be sustained?Well, maybe because some environmental resources required, some economic resourcesalso required, significant manpower is also required.But, again the individual buildings utility is what governs defines whether this cansustain or not. So, each building has a smaller footprint or it has a larger utility forhuman beings. This one? Again, yes we can sustain provided we have the required skillwhich we need to make these buildings, because it has very less environmental resourceconsumption and less economic resource consumption. But, significant manpower isrequired along with the skill which is required to construct them, yet we can still sustainit, provided our socio cultural requirements allow that.Same for these huts from Cameroon, the reasons are exactly the same. Now this one canbe sustained? No, not at all; there is a huge environmental resource which is required,there is a huge economic resource which is required and huge manpower is required toconstruct this building. In those times it was socio-culturally, politically required andhence all these resources; environmental, economic and social resource were broughttogether. It was never easy on a kingdom to construct a fort and hence each kingdom,each king probably would have very few limited forts which were made. And they doubled up or multiple purposes they served, they served as the palace; part ofthe fort was also the palace for the leader, the king. In terms in times of distress whenthere was a war being raged against the kingdom, the people were given protection inthis fort which was the another purpose. At times the fort served as cities which were likeworld cities. So, suppose you look at the Jaisalmer fort, the fort itself is the entire city.So, in those times, in those contexts they were contextual and hence they were able tosustain.In today's times as the socio-cultural context has changed, we cannot gather theenvironmental, economic and social resource which is required to create a building likethat. All other forts for the same reason cannot be constructed and that is why we see thatin today's times, we do not construct these forts. They are socially, culturally obsoleteand they are so, resource intensive that we just cannot think of building that. However,this kind of a building where it is least resource consuming can still continue.However, we still see that a lot of Warli art is not being done these days, though there areefforts towards revival of these art forms, these creative forms. But, yet because there isa significant manpower which is required, it is declining. Wherever there is a lot ofresource consumption of either types, it is difficult to sustain that; unless there is a sociocultural context which keeps it going, provides it that impetus to go forward, to sustainitself. So, we see that yes ideally it should sustain, but just because it requires significantmanpower and skill, it is difficult to sustain this activity.Can we create another Taj Mahal? We cannot, it is not that we do not have the requiredskill or designers who can design a Taj Mahal, we are designing different types ofbuildings. But, yet we are not doing that, though we are doing the we making differenttypes of buildings, but this is not example of a sustainable building at all. It requires hugeenvironmental resource, it requires huge economic resource and huge manpower. Wecannot make such buildings again and there is not much of utilitarian purpose. A Chhatri,again the same thing huge resources are required. (Refer Slide Time: 28:13)And, that is why we see that these buildings say Taj Mahal or these Chhatri or I am nottalking about a structure like this, but Kandariya Mahadev. Now, these structures, thesekinds of structures are not being constructed simply because they consume huge amountof resource and in turn in return they are not really utilitarian in nature. However, if youlook at this example which is of a university, one of the greatest universities in recordedhistory; though it consumes huge environmental resource, it consumes huge economicresource and it also consumes huge manpower to construct it, to build it.But, it has a large utilitarian purpose because of which this kind of a building by purposeas I mean, I am not saying by design are still sustaining. We are seeing more and moreuniversities coming up. Why? Because, they are not for one person, they are not for aselect audience, they are for a larger mass, they are utilitarian in nature. So, we have acouple of bottom lines. (Refer Slide Time: 29:33)We come down to the answer to our question, what is it we are talking aboutarchitecture, what is it that sustains? What sustains? First, which has least environmentalimpact. Anything which has lesser environmental impact will sustain over a similarresponse which has larger environmental impact. Second, least resource consuming,something which consumes huge economic resource is not sustainable. Labor intensivewhere people own the outcome, here anything which is labor intensive if people own theoutcome in terms of building or the purpose of the building may be sustained.However, if it is not owned by people, anything which is labor intensive may not sustainand the last utilitarian in nature for everyone. If we are looking at purpose of the buildingwhich is being constructed for a select few, very few people; a community, a class, typeof people, it will not be sustaining. We will not see many of such buildings coming in,since it is not utilitarian in nature. So, if we look at this discussion, conclusion of thisentire lecture discussion; we know what kind of buildings sustained in the longer run.Many of you might have questions on the types of buildings which are coming up, highlyresource intensive buildings.For example, say 5 star hotels which are highly resource consuming, but you see thatthey there are not many 5 star hotels which you would see. There are fewer of them, veryfew of them because they are catering to a select class of people, group of people. Theyare not utilitarian in nature, that is why it is not a very sustainable building and hence not many are being constructed. However, on the other hand if you look at residents becauseit is fulfilling the most fundamental of the needs and it is more utilitarian, you would seethat more and more residences in the time to come will be built; they will be requiredmore and more. So, I will conclude this lecture by drawing the bottom line forsustainable development of which sustainable architecture is a subset.So, we see that there is environment as a bottom line, anything that is an impeachment,not impeachment, but that is actually taking a larger portion of the environment is notsustainable. So, anything which consumes the less environmental resource will besustainable, anything that is benefiting to the economy, where economy flourishes or itdoes not take a larger portion of the economy for a smaller purpose is sustainable.(Refer Slide Time: 32:57)And, last it is useful for the society from its utility purpose and also from its culturalcontext. Anything that is contextual culturally and has a larger utilitarian purpose is whatwill sustain. Now, if you look at any example, any building now that is a point to ponder;if you look at any building and try to evaluate it from any of these purposes you wouldsee whether that building would sustain or not sustain. If we look at some of the beautifulexamples of huge havelis which were created in any part of the country Rajasthan orKerala or Tamil Nadu or wherever.Any building which has been abandoned say these havelis either of these three bottomlines may not be meeting, may not be fulfilled in those cases. We would very clearly see one of these being violated, over the time either the context has changed, the sociocultural context has changed or the building is not serving any utility. It is not autilitarian building or it is intensive on economy, resource economic resource orenvironmentally resource intensive either of these three would fail a building anydevelopment. On the other hand anything which fulfills this bottom line will be seen assustaining.(Refer Slide Time: 34:45)So, I will close the second lecture by leaving this last slide with you. And, we would startour next lecture from here itself where through a Venn diagram, this is the most genericdefinition of sustainable development which would we would find. Where, these threecircles, intersecting circles each denoting environment, social bottom line and economicbottom line where these three come together, the confluence of that is sustainabledevelopment.So, if any one of these three dimensions is not fulfilled, it is not going to be a sustainablesolution. So, if it is not fulfilling the economic, it is only bearable; if it is not fulfillingthe social requirement, it is viable. If it is not fulfilling the environmental bottom line itis equitable, but not sustainable. So, we would start our next lecture, lecture 3 fromunderstanding what sustainability is, what are the different definitions of sustainability,how definitions of the sustainability have changed over years, over different ages, periods. And, what have caused that change to happen, what has inflicted that change;this is what we will see in our next lecture.Thank you very much for listening with patience, see you in lecture 3.Thank you.