Kerala PWD to come up with an architecture policy

It aims at constructing climate-resilient and sustainable buildings in keeping with the changing times

The Public Works Department (PWD) is gearing up to ready an architecture policy to construct buildings and other infra that are climate-resilient, sustainable, and with better aesthetics, in keeping with the changing times.

This comes in the wake of the overwhelming demand to have people-centric design which relates to regional architecture to make optimal use of space in government buildings and other public infra and to rely on materials that leave a low carbon footprint, it is learnt.

“These aspects and making optimal use of air [through means like cross-ventilation] and natural light go a long way in furthering the cause of sustainability and utility, while borrowing elements from regional architecture will improve their aesthetics. This has the potential to change the entire construction ecosystem in the State. A clear policy will help change the general impression about government buildings and other infra, which could include anything from a bus-waiting shed to an office complex,” sources said.

Already, many recently-built government buildings have gypsum and calcium silicate-based inner walls / partitions in the place of brick walls for interiors. They serve the purpose for two decades or so, following which interiors can be redesigned based on requirements of that time. Still, many government buildings, like the Revenue Tower in Kochi, have been receiving flak for inadequate parking space and alleged non-optimal use of space.

A welcome move

Explaining how a State PWD readying an architecture policy could probably be the first in the country, architect G. Shankar said, “So far, none cared for the Council of Architecture [COA], which was formed by an Act of Parliament in 1972. A sustainable policy will help focus on climate-related and other challenges that the country and the world are facing. Climate resilience is the need of the hour, since undesirable and untenable design and usage of construction materials are the primary reasons for unprecedented climate changes.”

He added, “But decision makers must consult experts, since buildings are part of the environment we live in, and they must be in sync with the surroundings. Else, a calamity awaits us in the form of climate change-induced natural disasters.”

GRIHA rating

It is good that the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) has begun insisting on GRIHA rating, which evaluates the environmental performance of a structure holistically over its entire life cycle, thus providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a ‘green building’, said Yacub Mohan George, a former PWD Deputy Chief Engineer. Care must also be given for regular preventive maintenance of all buildings, he added.

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