De-growth is among the many theories that evolved in the spirit of the above, as a counter position to the prevalent carbon consuming economy, and has many relevant pointers, says architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi

Critiques of eco-friendly buildings often argue that by replacing a few walls and windows, in professionally designed urban buildings, the positive impact on Earth will be minuscule and minimal. Of course, this point is valid, hence the need to widen the application of green and sustainable ideas. However, seeking the solutions, exploring new ideas and applying the alternative will demand such humongous time and attention, we will never be able to ensure that all buildings will be built energy efficient.

Can eco-sensitivity improve the performance of not only our buildings, but also our lives? How can lifestyle theories apply to design and architecture to enhance efficiency and aesthetics? Can these theories lead to a large-scale application of viable solutions that may dilute the impending doom? Without asking anymore of such questions, we know the answer to all of them will be ‘yes’.

Monitoring growth

De-growth is among the many theories that evolved in the spirit of the above, as a counter position to the prevalent carbon consuming economy, and has many relevant pointers for a better future. As a philosophy, it goes beyond construction technologies, design research and urban development, focusing at the very roots of societal desires of buying, possessing, accumulating and consuming, hence can result in a better future. There have been comparable theories in religion and philosophy, suggesting judicious and frugal living, within one means and needs, in the footsteps of Gandhiji. The power of saying “no” beyond a certain point, when we individually feel that we have adequate resources to live by, is an important factor in monitoring growth.

De-growth is just about a decade old in its development, hence not yet as deep rooted as Small is Beautiful, Critical Regionalism, Ecological Living or Voluntary Simplicity. Western civilization is a land of theories and texts while the Oriental including India, is a land of philosophies and practices. Strangely, most theories on sustainability have come from the West. Why? Is it because they feel they created consumerism, hence are causing an unsustainable future, hence needed to resolve it? We can also note that de-growth has been very European in its origins, spread and popularity, while overdeveloped U.S. or underdeveloped Africa are uncomfortable at the thought. Europe intends to balance tradition and modernity, where the modernity has begun to dominate, so de-growth could be seen as an antidote to modernity as well.

Feasibility factors

The Indian construction industry is growing by leaps, due to valid market reasons; hence we cannot simply apply any theory here without properly assessing its feasibility. De-growth does not refer to stopping production or lowering the GDP, but to a judicious distribution and consumption of resources. It is physical in its emphasis on finding the limits and philosophical in its stress on individual introspection. Together, there is a way to apply de-growth in architecture and construction.