Design

Let there be light

The façade is invariably the first element that leaves an impression about the structure of the building, invoking an interest in witnessing the interiors. Our Indian traditional architecture saw art even in the tiniest of objects. Our ancient buildings displayed an eclectic range of facades that extended from exquisitely structured jaalis permitting both light and ventilation while affording privacy to exotic arched openings that served as artistic picture frames and captured the beauty of outdoors.

The stunning jharokhas that were evident in many of these historical buildings worked as both aesthetic elements and shielded balconies to permit women to view the outdoors without being detected. The sculpted columns and beams along with the intricately crafted arched doorways lent a beauty that is unsurpassed. Essentially, these fenestrations served as the arresting screens of our ancient buildings, addressing both functionality and aesthetics.

Fenestrations refer to the design, construction and presence of openings in the building. This could be in the form of windows, doors, louvers, vents, wall panels, skylights, storefronts, curtain walls, and sloped glazing systems. The structure of fenestrations in the ancient buildings, with their intricate sculpture and exquisite display of artistic wealth, came across more as decorative elements than the functionality they were addressing.

The present contemporary buildings have lost this artistic address of functionality to the insensitive play of economics. Traditional sense of beauty, art and local sensibilities find no place in current architecture where there is extensive use of glass and aluminium, laments Architect Leena Kumar of Kumar Consultants.

In her presentation on sunlight, fenestration design and local sensibilities at the recently held International Conference on Green Buildings, Leena spoke about the use of fenestrations in contemporary buildings to bring in the optimum amount of light and ventilation while addressing aesthetics.

Traditional jaali

According to her the traditional jaali is an excellent fenestration and this could be given a modern interpretation to form the outer skin of the building. The traditional perforated stone or latticed screen with its ornamental pattern could be replicated in the form a metal or even a concrete outer skin. This could manifest as the compound of a large commercial building where the compound is as high as the building.

This fenestration would serve to modulate the light seeping into the building, ensure there is ample natural ventilation, cut down on the noise and visual pollution. The gap between the fenestration and the building can be large enough to even serve as an expansive setback or running courtyard.

Automated fenestrations

Presently automated fenestrations are available and these manifest as automated roller blinds, louvers, and window shutters. “They are sensitive to heat and light and open, roll down, change direction automatically to ensure the ambient temperature and light within is maintained”, says Leena. These louvers and blinds are also aesthetic in appeal and add to the beauty of the structure in a similar manner as the ancient jaalis.

Skylights with automated roofs that change angles also serve the same purpose of controlling the intensity of light and heat into the interiors. Likewise, the incorporation of arched openings through their proportions and ventilation, can offer a stunning façade while catering to the moderation of heat and light in the interiors. Similarly, the windows too could be designed to address sunlight and ventilation while accentuating the beauty of the façade.

Play of arches

Says Leena, “The play of arches in a structure brings in shade while creating shadows on the ground.” In one of her residential projects, a modern interpretation of traditional architecture has been infused into the structure where the extensive presence of arches adds beauty while moderating the heat ingress.

The fenestration adopted further creates fascinating shadows on the ground while connecting the spaces. The use of sandstone, which is a traditional material, accentuates the beauty of the structure, lending a traditional twist to a contemporary theme.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 5:45:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/design/let-there-be-light/article6511318.ece

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