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Building sustainable & smart

Building sustainable & smart

Voltas’ Smart Living Forum reached out to the design community of Surat

 The panellists of the Surat event: (L-R) Jignesh Modi, Snehal Shah, Sanjay Punjabi (moderator), Vishal Shah and Dinesh Suthar.
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The panellists of the Surat event: (L-R) Jignesh Modi, Snehal Shah, Sanjay Punjabi (moderator), Vishal Shah and Dinesh Suthar.

To take forward the custom of congregating expert practising design minds intended to discuss the latest trends and evolving innovations, the ‘Think Turf’ series halted at a milestone – Surat.
This joint initiative by Voltas and ITP Media India focuses on delivering solutions and best practices as a by-product of an interactive and knowledgeable discussion, only to open the field for creating smart, sustainable and future-ready spaces.

Panel of experts - Surat

  • Jignesh Modi, Jignesh Modi & Associates
  • Snehal Shah, Esteem Architects
  • Vishal Shah, Aangan Architects
  • Dinesh Suthar, DWG
  • Sanjay Punjabi, Image N Shape (moderator)

With a short opening address, Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director at ITP, welcomed the invitees and speakers from the Diamond city of India and acknowledged Voltas for their partnership. Srivastava kick-started the forum by introducing and inviting the keynote speaker for the evening – Prof.Urvi Desai, Faculty of Architecture, Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad.

Focusing her talk on ‘Challenges in sustainable design’, Prof.Desai wished to develop a synergy between the experienced and young architects before advocating for sustainability. “Apart from policy delays, technological delays, economical restraints and lack of availability of green products, I believe that not many architects demand the practice of sustainability,” she strongly pointed out. To dissolve some misconceptions in the architects’ minds, Prof.Desai explained, “Sustainability and design can go hand in hand. Not all beautiful materials or aesthetic elements are harmful for the environment, and technologically-sound green buildings can be good-looking and economical too. We just need to look for better alternatives.” Prof.Desai feels that the social dimension of sustainability is not understood and discussed enough. She encouraged the design fraternity present in the room to step out of their comfort zones, collaborate and achieve sustainable design at a bigger level.

Prof.Urvi Desai, the keynote speaker at Surat.

Next, Devendra Sharma, senior manager-Product Sales at Voltas India, took the spotlight to share the product presentation for Voltas. He touched upon on the global presence and achievements of the pioneering air-conditioning brand, and highlighted the products and offerings from its diverse portfolio.
To start the much-awaited panel discussion of the evening, Srivastava invited the panelists and moderator, architect Sanjay Punjabi, founder, Image N Shape, on to the stage. Punjabi was eager to know from Dinesh Suthar about how Surat was performing as a smart city. “We, as a city, are still struggling to understand the basics of a smart city. Cheap data has allowed us expand technologically – but as far as infrastructure and society-level smart systems are concerned, we are way behind,” Dinesh stated. Snehal Shah added his insights saying, “I feel, the smart city mission has taken up a misdirection of pouring IT into the city to make it smart. A smart city is about how architects, through their projects, accommodate smartness into the lives of the people and how people, in their day-to-day lives, perform smart practices individually.”

Devendra Sharma highlighted Voltas’ diverse product offering.

Vishal Shah point out the dichotomy, saying, “The government has set certain parameters that can be implied nation-wide. But ‘smartness’ level differs from place to place according to the context and prevailing conditions. Rather than competing with others, we should always focus on becoming smarter than we were yesterday and move forward in a conscious manner.”

Jignesh Modi was asked if architects should take up the responsibility of integrating automation in their projects, and if they should be blamed if the end product is not smart. “We, architects, are trained to design buildings, its planning and aesthetics. We are familiar with other verticals of a building, ranging from construction and automation services – but only to a certain extent. I feel, even if architects stick to what they do best, consultants have their fair role to play in tailoring smart buildings,” he declared. Vishal, too, elucidated on automation and intelligent building, saying: “A study on intelligent building revealed, on an average, 12% savings on operational costs with the help of integrated systems like BIM and IoT. I feel it is the need of the hour for architects to have the knowhow of marrying smart systems with design.”

Snehal raised a valid point, saying, “The architectural profession has never been this complex and inter-disciplinary. This directly implies the need of increasing the quality of education. Additionally, the soft skills also need to be developed individually for architects to adapt in the profession.” 
Concluding the segment with high hopes and spirit, Punjabi closed the discussion. ITP Media and Voltas felicitated the panelists with a token of appreciation. Srivastava presented the vote of thanks to the partner Voltas, the speakers, guests and attendees. Cocktails and networking dinner followed.

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