Designing their world anew

Leisure zone Delegates at the conference of the Institute of Indian Interior Designers enjoying themselves after a round of discussions, at the Bolghatty Palace Hotel.

Leisure zone Delegates at the conference of the Institute of Indian Interior Designers enjoying themselves after a round of discussions, at the Bolghatty Palace Hotel.  

The international conference of interior designers held recently in the city showcased the latest in architecture and design. PREMA MANMADHAN has the details

The creme de la crème of the world architecture scene was right here, at the Bolghatty Palace Hotel complex, thrashing out diverse ideas and concepts, some almost alien to the home-grown conventional architectural concepts. The theme of the 8thBiennial Conference of the Institute of Indian Interior Designers, held last week, was ‘Zone Leisure’. So what came under discussion naturally had to do with the hospitality industry, tourism, resorts and related topics.

Apart from our own architects like S. Gopakumar and experts from the hospitality industry like Jose Dominic, star architects like Karan Grover who is a sworn ‘green’ architect by choice, wowed the 550 delegates with slides, out-of-the-box ideas and explanations. Grover worked for years with missionary zeal in Champaner, putting his ‘green’ credo to practice, and got it declared a World Heritage Site. Grover also received the platinum LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council two years ago, the first for India, apart from several other recognitions.

In sharp contrast to the ‘natural’ lover of traditional architecture is James Law, the ‘cybertect’, who had the delegates open mouthed, with the kind of hi-tech solutions he advocated in modern buildings. He builds ‘intelligent’ buildings. “Many were shocked at the possibilities of cybertecture,” says Gopakumar.

James Law’s firm built the world’s first morphable building in Denmark, one that is ‘able to move and reshape its spaces and functions interactively to the inhabitant’s needs… a dynamic trolley system of rooms and spaces controlled by a voice recognition interface that acts as the virtual butler for the house’. Now who says sci-fi movies are far fetched?

But Law is combining the hi-tech with environment friendly techniques to build simply out-of-the-world buildings, like the one now under construction in Mumbai, scheduled to be finished next year. This futuristic building is christened the cybertecture egg as it is shaped like an egg sitting on one of its side. It is self-sustainable and will make use of solar-photovoltaic panels and wind turbines on the roof. An elevated garden of natural vegetation will take care of the cooling of the building! This internationally renowned expert has an ambitious project on the cards too, ‘a worldwide memory communication project code name ‘Ohm’ that revolutionises the function of communication between the entire population on earth based on memory fragments.’ Such futuristic buildings may not exactly fill the bill for ordinary leisure, (as the conference had ‘Zone Leisure’ as its theme, remember?) some designers assembled felt.

From the futuristic, the road to ‘now’ and the past, was charted by Jose Dominic, hotelier, who had a diametrically opposite view of things. He is all for respecting nature, promoting local design, local material and local staff for the hospitality industry, giving tourists a totally local feel.

Says Gopakumar, “For proper leisure, and success of the hospitality business, location is very important as much as the design. The first impression lingers. Then come food and service.”

To make things easier for the hospitality industry, here comes nanotechnology. The international champion of nanotechnology, Claude Berube of Canada spoke at length to the delegates about its vast scope. There are about 600 nano products already in the world market. For instance, uniforms made of material with nano-technology repel dirt or germs, saving water for cleaning. Some kinds of material also are fire proof. The same goes for bedsheets, curtains etc. Nano-coatings are applied to fabrics for it. Can you think of a towel by the wash basin and people using it every now and then, but the towel remaining squeaky clean? Ah..that will be, thanks to nanotech. Cost, no doubt, may be above the common man’s head, but the hospitality industry would love it.

Guess what the delegates took home as mementos? Hammocks. Why? “Our logo is a hammock hung between two coconut trees to denote leisure. So as hosts, we gave them each a specially made hammock,” smiles Gopakumar, convener. For three days, the Bolghatty Palace Hotel had serious discussions and musical evenings. Joe Peter composed the theme music which was even used to remind some speakers when they got long winded. The conference, held for the first time in Kochi, gave the delegates the latest developments in architecture and design, the world over.

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