Er. Kamal Hadker expresses his views on what the future of housing design will require.
With an illustrious career spanning decades, structural engineer Kamal Hadker needs no introduction. Throughout his practice, he has chosen to take up challenges of the future, of using technological advances in a country that was reluctant to try out new ideas. His experience has shown him that progress is made only by keeping an eye on the future. In conversation, he defines what he believes are the cornerstones of future housing.
In your experience, what have been the major changes in the scenario of house building? Like, modes of construction, materials used and structural requirements of such building types?
Traditionally, load-bearing masonry was the main mode of construction, which took up a large amount of usable space. With the advent of RCC, usable space increased through framed construction. Now, the new, aware consumer has greater expectations from their architects and engineers and construction technology has to rise to this challenge.
In the ‘60s, we were happy with simple power, water and drainage connections. However, over the past 50 years, we have witnessed significant changes in our requirements, and houses for the future will have to be designed to accept the new requirements.
What would you list as the three main challenges for houses in the near future?
Firstly, architects, structural and services engineers will have to think of incorporating modularity into their designs to make them easier to roll out, almost like factory production, to meet the demands of a future, where demands are growing faster than designs.
Another challenge is to meet the rapidly changing needs of clients by making designs flexible for the clients’ lifespan. Conventional ideas of homes were that they were built once and users adapted to them, in fact now, it’s the other way around. The houses have to flexibly mould to their changing requirements. Services like Solar Energy, recycling waste water, rain water harvesting will be the third biggest opportunity for building professionals for future home design.
How would you define flexibility? How can one design for the future home?
As I understand, designs with adequate flexibility should be able to undergo modifications demanded by the change in lifestyle of the occupiers. However, by being flexible, the structure should not look temporary in nature. If we want to talk about flexibility, we must define what we want to do in the future. One way is to draw up plans for what your needs will be 10 years later and then again, maybe 20 years later. If we overlap these plans, we will immediately come to know where the problems will arise. For these areas, solutions can be designed keeping in mind the future uses.
What are your comments on RAISE: INDIA HOMES - 2020, a design-build competition to find these future flexible housing ideas?
I’m very happy to know that the RAISE: INDIA HOMES - 2020 competition is inviting designers from all over the country to think about this flexibility aspect and encouraging them to not only submit designs but also giving the winners a chance to build them. I’m sure many good ideas will emerge from such a competition.