With the current pandemic spread across the globe, we can see various environmentalists and other experts analyzing the current pollution and air quality rates. The world is probably going to breathe some fresh air after the lockdown comes to an end. But, till when? We all are the reasons for climate change, pollution, water scarcity, and many more issues. Nature has given us time to rethink and redesign our urban spaces as well as re-analyze our construction policies and refine it as per Sustainability Goals.
Do you realize the ancient planning strategies were more sustainable than the smart city solutions that we talk about today? Can our technological advancements focus more on generating energies to facilitate our routines and can the designers plan according to our tangible and intangible needs?
Imagine…You have a simple-looking house, good enough to accommodate your whole family. Built using natural building materials and techniques, the house generates quality air for every inhabitant. It naturally takes care of your well-being as you spend most of your time intimately with every space that you have decorated with beautiful handmade interiors, skillfully made with earthy materials. You admire the light and wind the windows bring in for you and the green view outside. You realize you don’t actually need a fan or AC during summers nor you need a heater during winters. And that’s a good way to save and store electricity, right? You are thankful that solar panels are installed at your roof because you are aware that the sun not only welcomes us with a new day but also with an energy that helps us produce electricity which we can store and use to function our various modern appliances. As you start your day, the water that you used for bathing, for cleaning up, for your daily chores is getting recycled for watering your plants. The technique of reusing greywater after proper purifying treatment is a practical decision. How about making it mandatory for every house? Even the rain-water collecting system is a savior.
Walking down the clean, green lanes with intimately interconnected houses and shops on both the sides, you pass a smile to the older ones as they happily greet you for the day. You now reach an open public place; and as you wait for an electric bus to arrive, you look at the creative facades around that generate a strong feeling of enthusiasm within you and lightens up your mood daily as you go to work. Your bus arrives, you take your seat, relax for a bit, think about your tasks at the office today, and within half an hour you reach the workplace. Maybe you don’t like monotony, but you definitely want to spend half your day at a place where the days start with the sensorial experience created by the designers inside. You have a place to work in groups or isolation depending on your requirements of tasks. It’s all fresh and green and that is the best part. The moods of all your colleagues and especially boss seems always elevated. Even if the deal is not cracked, even if the company ran a bit of loss, the spaces heal it all.
As the day comes to an end, you remember you had to visit your relative at the hospital close-by, who is kept in isolation after the recent pandemic spread. As you wait outside your office, an electric auto stops by and drives you to the hospital where your uncle is admitted. The huge building in front of you is not a glass-boxed hospital, rather it is a striking example of a ‘good architecture’. Breaking the typical categorization, the hospital felt like an indoor recreational space with warm-colored interiors that brings hope in every patient to fight against the virus and get back to their normal lives. The natural pigments used in flooring and walls, the decorative openings and paintings try to distract patients’ attention from pain to bring mental peace. The green corridors create a therapeutic impact on the recovery process of patients and even keep doctors and staff away from the stressful day. The uncle smiled and said, “I feel I will recover soon”. You smiled back and gave him fruits that were grown in the premises of the hospital and walked towards their terrace which had a canteen to have a cup of tea. You sat there staring at the organic farm that was right next to the seating space. The freshly grown vegetables were used in meals of patients, made you think of creating a small organic farm at your rooftop of the house.
The above image represents the interactions of various factors that have an impact on sustainable development.
With this thought, you walked out of the hospital, took the electric bus that ran on the stored solar energy collected from the morning heat. You sat on the available seat, relaxed your mind with the soothing music that was heard inside the bus and thought of what all you have to buy for the coming weekend. You quickly made a list and within half an hour you reached the center where you stood in the morning. Only this time you were not looking at the facades but at the roadside pop-up stalls that come out every night to sell various products, as well as to serve eateries. It seems to lighten up the evening space. People were talking to each other about how their day went; some were having delicious healthy snacks. Buying and selling felt like a daily celebration. You walked down towards your house, receiving smiles by the old aged eyes full of hope to welcome the next day just like the rest.
The above imaginary scenario depicts briefly the concept of sustainability for both urban areas as well as within individual units.
The above image reflects on the core areas to be researched to generate a sustainable cycle for all living organisms.
The planning affects every human physically, mentally and emotionally. We, the designers, the politicians, the entrepreneurs, the investors are responsible for the effective planning and execution of such ideas. The goal is to design a self-sufficient infrastructure for a sustainable city and a healthy living environment for our country.