IF A BUILDING LIVED TO A 100
Recently, I had the good fortune to attend the kankabhishekam of a couple in my family. They are 100 years old and they celebrated it in grand style. The fact that they are 100 years old is amazing, that they are in fairly good health is heartening and that they take very keen interest in life, including checking the stock market every day is awe inspiring. In short, they are “evergreen”. This got me thinking, about the life and times of a building.
Our buildings are generally built for the present, the function of the building is clear for now. But, with rapidly changing times, the functionality of the building can be quickly lost, in as short as 10 years to 15 years. For example, remember the quintessential architectural ‘studio’ with its large drawing boards and draughting tables. This was very very quickly replaced by computer desks and workstations, which too is becoming obsolete with laptops and now the latest tablets and phablets. So imagine a building living to a 100- kind of hard isn’t it.
It is green for a building to live to a 100 (or more). It means lesser wastage due to demolition of old buildings; Reduction in the consumption of newer resources and materials; and nostalgic associations and pride which may improve performance of the occupants (am guessing wildly here). But to be really “evergreen” the building needs to be much more than just 100 years old. It should-
Be Adaptable and Flexible- Change with the times such as our bullish grandfather. This is harder than it sounds. The term flexible conjures up images of removable partitions and sliding panels, but it isn’t as simple as that. It should be capable of upgrading to newer and more exacting standards in interior ambient quality, lighting, energy consumption and anything else that time may throw up.
On an incongruous note, some of the oldest buildings alive today are those that really did not change any- like temples, but even the 500 year old Kapaleeshwarar temple sports an air-conditioned Garbha Graham and an automatic Melam machine.
Be timeless- think why denims are always in style. The building should appeal to the aesthetic sense of more than 3 consecutive generations, which may undergo a wide variety of style changes. But what works and what doesn’t is hugely subjective. However, a good sense of proportion, symmetry and contrast always appeals to the human aesthetic sense.
Remain Healthy- This is a key feature that may make all the difference. Structural soundness, air tightness, easily upgradable fittings and fixtures, breathable indoors, etc are some of the contributors.
This is something to think about, Buildings those are not just green, but evergreen. Who know some day we may building structures which are so adaptable that they live to be more than 100 years or more, or organic building that live and grow with us.