The disparity between rural and urban India is appalling, and this gap can only be bridged with serious, dedicated research in “rural design”. From the very beginning, we need to work hand-in-hand with experts from a variety of disciplines such as agriculturist, economists, architects, designers and planners to create a well-rounded field that may one day even be taught as part of the curriculum in architectural schools.
Dikshu C. Kukreja, Principal Architect, C P Kukreja Architects (CPKA) shares his view with Sandeep Sharma about his organisation, core competencies, design philosophy, signature projects, upcoming convention centre project at Dwarka, sustainable design, and the way forward for urban planners in emerging cities. Edited excerpts…
Tell us about your architectural firm, mission, objectives and core competencies?
CPKA offers a wide range of services under one roof, all handled by well-qualified, experienced professionals. These include consultancies in Master Planning and Urban Design, Architecture, Structural and Civil Engineering, Internal and External Electrical Work, Mechanical work, Fire Fighting System, Quantity Surveying and Estimating, Plumbing and Sanitary Engineering, Construction Supervision and Management, etc
Could you provide us an insight about your design philosophy?
At CPKA, we believe that design is a process and not the end product. It is a journey of discovery, innovation, evolution and eventually, creation. With each project, we aim to “read” and “respond” to the built and un-built contexts of the urban scape. The most important exercise in the design process is to read the silent gestures of forms and spaces, to converse with the natural environment and then translate those gestures into architectural ensembles. We refer to it as “Responsive Architecture” – a philosophy which advocates architecture as a response to the various existing forces and systems like nature, climate, society, technology, economy and culture. Our primary objective is to create architecture that is a collective of all these blended seamlessly as a physical manifestation with the existing geographical setting and at the same time containing within itself a strong potential to live up to the future developments and urban standards.
Could you talk about your upcoming Convention Centre at Dwarka? How is this project so unique and special?
The India International Convention Centre at Dwarka is Asia’s 2nd largest state-of-the-art Convention Centre and 3rd largest in the world being designed to host the G20 Summit and other such mega International events in India along with international conferences, exhibitions and trade shows. The design is a representation of an integration between traditional architectural elements like jaalis, stepped wells, green open spaces, a lotus motif embossed on the retractable roof of the Indoor Arena, to name a few, projected with a contemporary outlook through forms and spaces at the site. It leads the understanding which would help develop the region in the long run, making sustainable development on such a scale a successful feat.
Which are your other signature projects till date and what's so unique about them?
Over five decades, the list of milestones tends to be long. However, to name a few, I would choose Ambadeep Tower as it was one of the tallest buildings of its time, and introduced art at an urban scale in the form of murals, Signature Tower as one of the first buildings in India to use advanced curtain glazing systems extensively along its façade, Gautam Buddha University for its use of “compact urbanism” to create a walkable, cyclable campus and Transworks Tower in Colombo, which is one of the tallest business hubs in South Asia.
What are your views about and contribution towards sustainable design? How far architects fraternity in India are spearheading the movement towards adoption of sustainable solutions?
India has a remarkable history of sustainable, vernacular architecture, particularly in the rural areas. These structures use passive design, local materials and respond to the site context. It is in the urban areas, unfortunately, that we see insensitivity to the environment. It has become a trend in cities to senselessly use glass, concrete and steel. However, we are slowly coming to a time where there is an increasing awareness about sustainable design. Regulatory bodies have also been instituted by the Government with this regard.
A major source of concern in this field is the inconsideration to environmental degradation during the construction and operation of building. For example, during construction, no care is given to the preservation of the natural topography, fauna, topsoil, rampant dust and waste generated, etc. During operation, even in green buildings, simple things like waste management and maintenance are ignored. There is clearly a long way to go before we see a holistic approach to green architecture.
Apart from selected Smart Cities, what are your recommendation and the way forward for urban planners in emerging cities?
One of the harshest truths in India is that we have plenty of talented urban designers and urban planners, but the development of rural areas is left solely in the hands of policy makers. Why should this be? Rural regions have their own complexities, just like an urban fabric would have. Yet, most of what we hear about any progress in these areas comes from government policies to safeguard the livelihood of the people here, be it switching to alternate sources of power, providing loans, etc. While this is crucial, we cannot deny that one of the major contributing factors for the mass exodus of people to cities is because they are in search of better lifestyles. There is no real “designing” of rural spaces to address the needs of those who live here. Everyone has the right to contented living, and it is important for us to understand that while an agrarian society can do without us, we cannot do without an agrarian society.
The disparity between rural and urban India is appalling, and this gap can only be bridged with serious, dedicated research in “rural design”. From the very beginning, we need to work hand-in-hand with experts from a variety of disciplines such as agriculturist, economists, architects, designers and planners to create a well-rounded field that may one day even be taught as part of the curriculum in architectural schools. Educating and creating awareness among the current and next generation of architects about this issue would be a concrete step towards ensuring action is taken to uplift the lives of rural dwellers.
REDEVELOPMENT OF THE GOMTI NAGAR RAILWAY STATION
Located 12 km away from Lucknow, the Gomti Nagar Railway Station serves 40,000 passengers per month (approximately). This number is expected to witness a huge growth, owing to inclusion of Lucknow as one of the cities in the list for the Smart City Mission of the Government of India. It is a centre providing excellent educational, commercial, banking and legal infrastructure. Owing to this, a rapid growth in information technology, banking, retailing, construction and other service sectors can be witnessed. The Gomti Nagar Railway Station Redevelopment Project is a Railways up-gradation project where a 40-acre commercial land parcel has been combined with the railway station infrastructure to create an integrated development. This would be accomplished by improving the existing facilities and renewing the railway infrastructure from the revenue generated by the sale of development on the land parcel.
An iconic structure with state of the art facilities is being developed, paying emphasis on an integrated and efficient transportation hub which is technology-driven as well as energy conscious. Gomti Nagar is now developing as the commercial and IT hub of mainland Lucknow, providing ample scope for implementation of a green design proposal on an urban scale. It is also first of its kind railway project where the railway station is integrated with retail. The façade introduces arches in its skin as well as a structural element to the outer face of the terminal, since it is an important element of the city of Lucknow. The photovoltaic cells would line the curvilinear roofs, inspired by the traditional domes used in Awadh architecture, while the walls would be designed to accommodate the concept of a living wall, increasing scope for green spaces in the project. The building structures would also be naturally well lit and ventilated, further contributing to the concept of a green building.
Car free complexes, encouraging a pedestrian friendly zone with abundant green spaces and landscape linkages would be developed. Terminals would be redesigned keeping in mind, the comfort of the passengers. The three platform station will have their own dedicated ramps connecting to the subways and directing arrival passengers from the platform to the arrival hall. The arrival and departure zones would be segregated, concourses will have commuter-friendly facilities, and there would be an availability of resting and medical room facilities, in addition to buggy and pre-paid taxi services. The façade would have space for advertisements on or around them to serve the purpose of a reciprocating revenue practice. Kiosks and exhibition halls would act as a way to generate and contribute to the revenue for the project while also helping in provision of a platform to the local artists and agencies.
STATE-OF-THE-ART CONVENTION CENTRE COMING UP IN DWARKA BY 2025
Delhi is set to get a state-of-the-art convention centre for hosting exhibitions, trade fairs and summits of international standards. To be constructed in Dwarka’s Sector 25, three kilometers from the IGI airport in south-west Delhi. The exhibition-cum-convention centre in Dwarka and its allied infrastructure includes an arena, primary structure, Delhi Metro, road connectivity, hotels and office spaces. It is conceived as a smart, zero energy, world-class facility designed for events like G-20 summit.
The Convention Centre at Dwarka is Asia’s 2nd largest state-of-the-art Convention Centre and 3rd largest in the world being designed for the country to host the G20 Summit and other such mega International events in India along with international conferences, exhibitions and trade shows. The 10,000 capacity Convention Center will be “crowned” by a LED Video Wall which will be the largest LED façade ever built. The project also boasts of mixed land use such as retail, commercial spaces and 3700 hotel rooms as well as a 20,000 seater one-of-its-kind, world- class Indoor Arena with a retractable roof which will be built in India for the first time.
The first phase, comprising convention centre with a seating capacity of 10,000 guests, two exhibition halls spread over 80,000 square metres area and a foyer, would be ready by October 2019 and will be constructed as non-public-private partnership (PPP) component. The second phase, comprising the remaining exhibition area will be ready by 2025 and facilities such as hotels, retail space and offices will be completed on a public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
The exhibition halls, convention centres, meeting facilities, banquet halls, auditoria, hotels, F&B outlets and retail outlets will be mutually beneficial and will be able to function independently or combined, depending on the event requirements. Also, the idea is to put the project on the scale of a Central Business District that will have retail space, commercial office space, hospitality, entertainment lifestyle and other such services for end-users.
The contract for the first phase was awarded to Larsen & Toubro (L&T) by Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) — a knowledge partner for the project — in December last year. DMICDC appointed CP Kukreja Architects as its engineering and architectural consultant.
‘It is an honour to design and work closely on projects like the Dwarka convention centre that showcase our architectural prowess on a global scale. Our architects are creating world-class state-of-the-art buildings and the convention centre in Dwarka,” said Dikshu Kukreja, principal architect, CP Kukreja Architects.