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Implications of Building Bye-laws on Design

Building bye-laws and rules have numerous implications on the design and the designing process. To understand these implications, It is important to question the premise of the rules to get a clear perspective on why these rules were made in first place.

As per the different design stages and their requirements at that particular scale, these rules can be broadly categorised as follows:

1) Site planning and organisation:

-Fire Fighting provisions

-Minimum margins

-Parking provisions

-Minimum required open spaces

-FSI calculations, etc

Let's pick up an example of the minimum margin rule and FSI which directly affects quality of life, density, urban infrastructure, Affordability, etc. For instance, the case of MHADA housing, Maharashtra presents the direct co-relation between the margin rule and the quality of life affected. In this case, In order to make it affordable, the government reduced the minimum margin rule, which according to a research led to more cases of Tuberculosis. Hence, the dilemma of choosing between affordability or quality of life occurs. (Thanos' problem)

2) Block Level Planning:

-Number and sizes of lifts and lobbies

-Minimum duct sizes

-Corridor size

-Fire fighting provision

-Open to sky spaces, etc

The lift lobbies are kept free of FSI (up to a particular size) so as to ensure ample amount of common space between different dwelling units as a profit-oriented developer would not do it otherwise. This opens up opportunities for architects to design that space freely. This rule also leads to more number of developers ending up with point circulation blocks as otherwise in a linear block, circulation corridors are not free of FSI.

3) Unit Level Planning:

-Minimum requirements for habitable rooms.

-Minimum opening sizes

-Specific requirements for particular spaces (kitchen, WC, etc)

The minimum size for a habitable room is provided by the authority, which makes it un-affordable for the lower income group of society. However this rule does not specify the maximum number of people per room, which leads to overcrowding. In the European context, the government has specific rules regarding over-crowding. Whether this rule should be applied in India is a question due to over-population and its applicability issues. The minimum size rule has led to people moving into slums due to affordability issues, which do not classify as legal settlements and hence are deprived of the basic amenities provided by the Municipality.

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