- Nandni Shah
How much can you prepare yourself as a designer before you actually get the plot?
When we focus on proposing a regulatory compliant scheme of housing within a time frame of 24 hours, what is the sequence of decisions that we take? What is more crucial than the other? It is also important to recognize certain regulations which to our understanding can work better if modified in a certain way. As designers of a developing nation with changing trends, there might be a few regulations which might need modifications in accordance to our understanding. Different design approaches result in different outcomes. However, it is crucial to understand that GDCR does not provide regulations for all aspects of design, and as designers, there are things which need to be decided without there being a norm stating them.
There can be different challenges for different design processes. When we think from whole to part, there is sometimes a compromise at the unit level which was not foreseen, and vice versa. It is always a back and forth process. The layout of a housing unit can be governed by the grid of columns used while designing the parking for the block, whereas a well regulated unit might lead to an inefficient site plan. Another discussion is about understanding the requirements of each space. They can be derived through our referential ability with other similar spaces or maybe through the dimensions of the furniture one might use for the space. It was 1920s when Neufert talks about dimension as a starting point for design for the first time, the idea of efficiency in space making. The kitchen is expected to be the most efficient space. If it is bigger, it becomes inefficient and if it is smaller, it is not workable. So now when we sit to design, the questions we ask ourselves can be, “When was the first dimension decided?”, “At any stage, what came first- Dimension or Organization?”, “Apart from both of these, was there any other thought? If so, when did it come?”
There are a set of realities of the profession that one faces while practicing. When a building has to be planned, the only place where a builder can squeeze in time is the time which an architect takes to design. Constantly, drawings need to be produced and sent to the site such that the construction does not halt. In such contexts, how much can one prepare before you already get the plot? Some practices reduce the time of design by fixing kitchen, bathroom, lobby, staircase and parking designs. There is a ready categorization of regulations according to how they are needed in the sequence of design. There are standard details and drawings which might serve everywhere without modifications. The most efficient time saver is a planned usage of design software. It is important to monitor how much time is spent on making certain decisions and the time needed to produce drawings in order to manifest them. In these cases, the act of mirroring seems quite less complicated on software than it is physically.
There is always an emotional aspect of home which needs to be captured while designing. Indian society has also evolved in a certain pattern. Small design decisions, as simple as the height of a window sill, can work in favor of creating memories for hundreds of families. Kids under certain age do not associate themselves with the cultural norms or with any pre-decided functions of the house. For different acts, there are different cut off ages, which when we look back into our memories, may or may not be able to recall. It is then important to take that stand as a designer and to be aware of changes the smallest design decisions can bring.