Offering sustainable designs and options

Nandhini Sundar
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Architect Sheila Sri Prakash has developed the Reciprocal Design Index as part of her role at the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation. A look by Nandhini Sundar

Sheila Sri Prakash
Sheila Sri Prakash

Sustainability is a factor that the world is now forced to contend with as well as incorporate into every aspect of functioning, given the extent to which ecology and environment have been ceaselessly plundered, leaving it in a fairly precarious condition. With both work and living spaces being buildings, these are no exceptions when it comes to making them equally sustainable.

Raising awareness about designing sustainable buildings has thus become imperative to bring about a positive impact of space design on urban planning. While the extent of awareness about sustainable options and the need for the same is questionable, the necessity of spreading it is becoming increasingly evident.

Reciprocal Design Index

Recognising this lacuna and the compulsion to change the facet of designs, Sheila Sri Prakash, Chief Architect, Shilpa Architects, has developed the Reciprocal Design Index (RDI) as part of her role at the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation.

Sheila is one of the 16-member team of international experts in Design and Innovation, serving to formulate ways to improve the state of the world.

The RDI essentially sets parameters for coming up with sustainable designs where the accent is on interaction between stakeholders while executing a project. “By involving the concerned segments in design and implementation, a more holistic approach is adopted where development is not lopsided or unsustainable,” says Sheila.

Urgent need

According to her, India urgently requires the implementation of RDI to prevent unsustainable designs being approved, especially when the impact of a project is far reaching.

While RDI could bring in harmonious implementation of projects, Sheila also stresses on including cultural and location centric features in designs to make them sustainable.

In one of the apartment complexes she designed, each unit is fashioned as a villa with a small sit-out at the entrance, reminiscent of the attractive seating arrangements that prevailed in front of every house in the past. The complex also incorporates plenty of stone columns and sculptures, drawing inspiration from the erstwhile Pallava architecture.


She further adds that the built environment has an impact on human behaviour and development as the manner in which both private and public spaces is designed determines the physical as well as psychological comfort of individuals.

“The field of Spaciology addresses this element, bringing across the need to come up with right designs so as to impact society positively,” she avers.

New dimension

While local culture and temple architecture have served as great inspirations for her designs, Sheila has another surprising avenue adding to her creativity. An accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, Sheila has used the dance form to enable her to mentally walk through her designs before execution, in the same manner as a dance performance, thereby lending a totally different dimension to her work.

Shilpa Architects recently launched a project, YOWDEE, which is an online portal, where prospective home builders can avail themselves of sustainable designs. Given that the designs available address various dimensions and requirements, people from different segments of society could benefit by accessing the same and incorporating elements into the design of their respective homes.

According to her, customers are also ignorant of the actual cost of construction.

YOWDEE, by offering designs as well as information regarding the type of materials to be bought, the best places to purchase the same and the average cost involved, serves to literally revolutionise the built environment while empowering the prospective home owner.

The Hindu presents the all-new Young World



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