Good construction ideas sometimes fail to reach out to the people who need them, says architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi

Some of the most innovative and improvised ideas in the construction industry are possibly known to the least number of people! Among the best kept secrets, there lies some solution to our year-long problem. When thousands of architects and engineers work on a wide range of buildings, it is but natural that there would be multitudes of great new ideas. We wish we had known it, but alas, our building is now complete.

With dozens of e-mails expressing the above feeling, it could be worth dedicating one essay in this weekly column just to investigate why ideas fail to reach out to the people who need them.

Before we point a finger at the designers for hiding these non-copyrighted novelties, we need to understand the construction industry. It is based more on individual consultation than on mass instruction. The only occasion when mass awareness happens seem to be during material mega shows, though they may only aim at marketing a few products.

Media can play a major role, yet the reach is limited to niche readership. However much we may design with forethought and leave no stone unturned before commencing construction, the feeling that we missed out on some better option is imminent. It is not because there is a dearth of eco-friendly ideas, but there is a dearth of efforts in disseminating them.

There are numerous practical difficulties in reaching new ideas to all the people. The day we get to know a new idea is an unknown day, by when possibly the idea has been around for years!

Out-of-the-box thinking

Majority of alternative ideas are not covered in our civil or architecture curriculum, and there is no specific academic degree to cover better buildings. As such, our fresh graduates need to learn them afresh in the field. There are a few programmes at NICMAR, GRAMVIDYA, Auroville and INSTRUCT, and many more of them not named here, that attempt specific workshops. Yet no large institutional mechanism exists to explore ideas and options for the construction industry, which is among the largest in terms of turnover, activity and employment generation.

Having said this, it is equally true that there are practitioners who hesitate to publicise for fear of others copying their ideas. However, by limiting our knowledge to our limited circle, clients and customers, we limit our outreach and actually achieve less!

A writer can write about one's experiences only, as this column does where even the images shared are mainly from a single firm. We welcome our readers to share their ideas, experiences and knowledge, covering cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness and cultural appropriateness. Individual consultations may lead to mass instructions.

(The writer is an architect working for eco-friendly designs and can be contacted at varanashi@gmail.com)