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History of Architecture (AP313) | Essay | 2013

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Architecture by real estate developers in India

Essay for History of Architecture (AP131)

Ravideep Singh
Roll Number: 07216901611
Sushant School of Art and Architecture

Architecture by real estate in India
Architecture and real estate go hand in hand, without good real estate, one
cannot design great architecture and one can ruin good real estate with poor
architectural design. But most of the times the two of them work in completely
opposite ways. While architects tend to push the boundaries of design by
ignoring practicality, real estate developers push for designs which are simple
and more practical. A lot of architects dont worry about real estate markets.
However, it is much more profitable to deal with buildings than designing them
maybe a reason for the difficult relationship between architects and investors
/ clients. Unfortunately, the real estate people are rating buildings differently
than architects: they weight different categories like socio-demographic
development, economic situation and attractiveness, rental growth potential,
etc. Are real estate people underestimating architecture or is it the other way
round? (1)
Globalization in the 90s ushered in external investments and an expansion of
the real estate markets. This made it possible for the affluent to raise the bar on
their consumerist aspirations and devote themselves to the pursuit of them.
With this came a new architectural vocabulary, universally applied in all global
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cities. The government had to function as a mediator between extremely
divergent and contradictory interests. Basic needs like water and sanitation, and
general affordability naturally became major concerns, and architecture was
relegated to the tail end of priorities. (2)
Entire sections of cities, or even entire small cities grew up with no sense of
architectural character and style. This anomaly, compounded with a complete
lack of urban planning and vision, created a mish-mash of architectural style
that is in most cases a visual nightmare. Things took a turn for the better in the
early 90s when the opening up of the markets brought transformation into
India in all sectors. IT Parks, Technology campuses and the supporting housing,
retail and commercial needs brought about an architectural boom that has been
on a continuous steady rise over the last two decades. However a lack of a
vision for the entire city has created a new jigsaw of competing styles, materials,
designs, that somehow dont fit in all together. (2)
The development of the modern-day metropolises followed a distinct path, the
one driven by the real estate developers. Instead of building around how people
work, how people live and how they go between those two places, the
developers asked: How much can I build, how much can I lease, and how much
money comes in? confesses a leading real estate developer. And the realities of
this development are harsh: multi-storey buildings next to bungalows,
commercial mixed with residential every which way, narrow by lanes off massive
expressways an urban nightmare. Understandably, among residents, the
admiration frequently turns to frustration, the lack of planning into disaster.
Taking the example of gurgaon, which has seen the most of the real estate
boom sketching its skyline? This initiated when developer DLF Ltd first moved to
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the city and started building Corporate Park, a series of low-rise, box-like
structures. It was one of the first buildings in the area to use glass exteriors.
The reason for switching from brick might not have been the most practical, but
it set the tone for future development in the city.


The architects soon started experimenting with angular structures, since clients
wanted to be quirky and iconic in an area that was relatively barren. DLF
Gateway Tower, sometimes referred to as the ship building, or the eye
building, was the next structure to come up. Extensive use of glass and metallic
panels on the facades confirms to the high tech expressions business seek to
achieve and this set on the trend for such a superficial architecture defining the
skyline of the modern day metropolises.
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One of the stupid reasons for the overuse of glass in the faade was that most
of the clients were international companies. They mostly came from cold
countries, and want a lot of light to come in.
One of the most criticized architects in this regard is Hafeez contractor, who has
been a leading hand to the real estate development in Gurgaon, Haryana. A
prominent example can be the cyber city, Gurgaon, which has a meaningless
arrangement of buildings. There is no attention to practicality as exemplified by
this collection of buildings that look like they are made of glass. Surprisingly,
the most hot and power starved area has a building clad completely in glass.
Power costs and sustainability was obviously not a priority.
For residential Buildings, they must not emphasize on faade-treatment and
embellishments, In fact, the verandahs look rather small, too small to be useful,
which is patent in most of the housing developments in gurgaon including the
dlf cyber city apartments. The focus, instead, should be on the planning and
treatment of the spaces inside- do they allow enough light inside and provide
adequate space, do they enable the residents to interact, do the spaces look out
into some greenery, the variation of scale, the hierarchy of the public and the
private spaces etc; these are the more fundamental necessities to be addressed
now. A habitation should feel comfortable
and sumptuous even with the eyes shut.
These concerns, I feel, are to be
addressed even before the expression of
traditional, artistic or stylistic values. In
contract, the Kanchenjunga by Charles correa is a direct response to the present
culture, the escalating urbanization, and the climatic conditions for the region.
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They pay homage to the vernacular architecture that once stood on the site
before the development in a number of ways. (3)
Source 3,4 : http://www.real-estate-
The architecture practiced by the real
estate produces stacked-boxes.
What we are irked by is the feeling that
our home has been transformed into
a sort of mass-produced assembly-line architecture- where the size and the
repetitiveness reduce the individual to insignificance. It could be an anthill
reproduced in concrete and stone. Potential buyers are enticed by facilities on
offer, rather than the quality of space offered to them. (3)
In cities like Mumbai we can see the rise of new development as derivations of
popular Western buildings supplanted from the American and European
archetype of tall, glassy towers that may not be equipped to consume and
manage resources efficiently in their local climates. Moreover, its common to
see revival of extreme brutalism being practiced by the real estate developers in
India, for instance, a towering, 27-floor pile of bton brut, glass and exposed
struts that has become a much-abhorred fixture on South Mumbais skyline:
Mukesh Ambanis Antilia which, depending on your perspective on it, stands for
either a city of gold or the very edge of the world where, according to the
ancient Romans, there be dragons. In a city commonly known as Slumbai, the
tower represents everything wrong with the citys development. It also typifies
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superfast, unstoppable, insulated growth that has come to represent modern
Indian architecture. (4)

Another issue is that all too often these new versions of urban space are merely
copies of western norms, lacking the site-specificity needed to link them to their
surroundings, such as the Burg-Al-Arab, which has been replicated in many Indian
cities. Further diminishing the quest for identity of Indian architecture and
producing an architecture which is far from being contextual.
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Trapped in the great Indian property boom where real estate sharks pull down
heritage buildings to put up factory-produced high-rises, flattened cities are
scrambling skywards in bizarre shapes, epitomizing what architect and Harvard
professor Rahul Mehrotra calls the architecture of impatient capitalists.
As economic growth puts more capital in the hands of a population, real estate
can become an obvious choice for long term investment, boosting regional
demand for new buildings. A market-based response could be to maximize
profit opportunities, pushing developers or investment agencies to build new
space as quickly and affordably as possible to pass it into the hands of eagerly
waiting buyers. The mechanics of the marketplace are relatively simple, but the
sustainability of the model rests largely in how cheap and how fast the new built
environment is being realized. The environmental attributes of Modern day
metropolises bring unique complexities and challenges for setting new
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concentrations of people and services. If sustainability is a goal then the next
evolution of cities should be producing a new genus of built environment with
site-specific considerations rather than traditional models of existing cities
transplanted into completely different environments with hopes for the best. (5)
There is a need for architects and real estate developers to work in harmony. It
can end up with something which is memorable, practical, beautiful and cost
effective. They will have a space which (5)is valuable to the customer with ample
space and good attention to detail.
1. how architecture compliments real estate. [Online] 4 22, 2003. [Cited: 3 17,
2. das, s.k. City, Multiplicity, and Specificity. [Online] [Cited: 3 17, 2014.]
3. mitra, sramana. india's real estate boom and architecture. [Online] 1 19, 2008.
[Cited: 3 17, 2014.]
4. Isha singh sawhney. Debating the Death of Design. [Online] 4 1, 2012. [Cited: 3
17, 2014.]
5. manohar, Prathima. Architect hafeez contracter. s.l. : architecture publihing,

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