Affordable housing is integral to the prosperity and welfare of people. Cities today are struggling to cope up with the need as the demand of the urban dwellers continues to increase. Rapid, continual urbanization leading to urban densification is widening the gap between demand and affordability. Shortage of land in the urban centers is resulting in housing shortfall and it could become alarming by the next decade, hence, the need to take immediate definitive measures.
Today, more than 50% of the world’s population is living in cities. It has become imperative to redefine and reformulate the urban centers and create better infrastructure so that it proves advantageous to people as individuals and also provides for the social, economic and environmental development of a society. As per available statistics, 330 million urban households live in sub standard housing today. By 2050, about 70 per cent of the population will be living in cities globally and the percentage of inadequate housing would have increased manifold. The inevitable is being realized now and provision of housing to accommodate the influx needs to be effectively planned, so as to reduce the affordable housing gap.
Housing challenge is global, affecting both the developed and developing nations. Global trends show varied flexible blue prints, strategies and approaches being adopted in providing housing by different countries ranging from public participation, private sector inclusion, incentives, and lenient policies to even subsidies being offered. Based on the regional and geographical demographics of the requirement, ways are being charted out to globally tackle the housing deficit.
India too, is in rapid urbanization mode and the need for adding housing & infrastructure facilities is the calling of the day. Housing for all is the key focus and the government of India has set 2022 as the year to realize this target. Urban affordable housing tends to suffer owing to the mindset that housing for the weaker section is not profitable, hence, lacks interest from private developers. However, arrays of incentives have been offered under special schemes and India is already on the road to help achieve the set targets. Wider vision, analytical thinking and comprehensive approach are needed to improve housing conditions. Smart Cities mission which will combine best practices and technologies is also a move in this direction.
Housing requirements tend to vary for every individual and depend on the age group, family size, household income and geographic location. Here from arise the varied housing typologies based on the urban, social, historical, economic and geographical context. Advancement in material and construction technologies also impact housing. Sprawling single dwelling units have graduated to multifamily floors on a single plot. Group housings with horizontal spreads are now being replaced by high density, high rise community dwellings considering the need of the emerging markets, whether due to urbanization, scarcity of land, etc.
Studio KIA has a wide and varied portfolio in housing over its three and a half decades of professional existence in India and the Middle East. We were fortunate enough to have designed township developments with affordable housing in large numbers for various government development authorities, very early in our professional career. Over the years, Studio KIA has delivered over 20,000 housing units and expanded its residential portfolio with the designing of budget housing, midrise apartments, high rise condominiums, personal floors, themed housing, executive floors, and luxury apartments with penthouses to independent villas.
One such Residential Community being developed is ‘Crescent Parc’ in Gurgaon, India on the outskirts of Delhi, for the SARE group, a UK based real estate fund. The overall development spread over 65 acres of land is very diverse yet retains a community fabric at both micro and macro level. The built structures relate to the open spaces around them and also have a semblance with the larger landscaped greens which integrate the entire development and are integral to quality living. These high-rise apartments create a sleek & graceful skyline that contrasts with the verdant greenery of their landscape. The project has been developed in phases, driven by the market forces & requirement thereof. There is encouraged use of renewable energy and the terrace tops have been designed as usable community spaces. Rain water harvesting has been resorted to for recharging ground water along with roof & surface water management. Usage of reflective glass, energy efficient fixtures and solar street lighting throughout the project highlights judicious planning of the housing typology very effectively.
‘Sky Terraces’ at Palm Drive, Gurgaon, India for EMAAR is yet another urban, residential community, designed by Studio KIA for urban living. It is a neighborhood that is defined by green open spaces and an uplifting sense of safety, security and community. The emphasis was on redefining urban architecture through creative and intelligent designing.
Both these housing projects have been recognized nationally and internationally by renowned real estate awards for their intent and design content. As architects and designers, it is our endeavor to contribute conscientiously to the built environment and build stuff that matters.
The writer is Founding Principal, Studio KIA, India.