A centre of excellence for art, architecture and human settlements

Smart Habitat Foundation

Architecture primarily looks upon design processes and their innovations, while the study mostly revolves around design studios. In today’s global and dynamic profession, wherein an ocean of new innovative materials is available, we need to look beyond core architecture and attain a comprehensive understanding of various elements of applied design, while inculcating them into a more holistic design approach.

Realising the need to create a platform for serious dialogue between the academics and the practitioners from the field of art, architecture and the creation of sustainable smart human settlements, an eminent group of professionals comprising of Prof. Charanjit Singh Shah, Ar. Gurpreet Singh Shah and Prabhpreet Singh Shah, has established the Smart Habitat Foundation. It is fully supported technically, financially and administratively by M/s. Creative Group.

A centre of excellence in the pursuit of Art, Architecture, Urban Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, Smart Habitat Foundation supports educational excellence and promotes interaction between practicing architects and budding students of architecture. The aim is to bridge the gap between architects, practitioners, academicians and students, promoting an all-round holistic understanding and learning of the noble profession of architecture. The initiation of the ‘Teach the Trainers Program’ aims at the same.

Workshops by Smart Habitat Foundation

The first two workshops in the series ‘Evolution and usage of steel’ were conducted with 25 students from MM University, Ambala. Held from December 26, 2017 to January 10, 2018, the workshops provided an environment wherein students studied various stages of steel making, rolling, its uses, advantages, limiting factors and applications in art and architecture. In a glittering ceremony, the workshop was inaugurated by Ar. Vijay Garg (Vice President, COA). It was presided over by many eminent personalities and heads of departments from various colleges, such as Prof. Aradhana Jindal, Ar. Shashi Sehgal, Prof. Manmohan Khanna, Ar. Nilanjan Bhowal, Prof. Vivek Sabherwal, Prof. SM Akhtar, Prof. Deval Rajwanshi, Prof. Neeraja Lugani, Ar. Ashish Gupta, Prof. SM Mehta and more.

The 3rd workshop by Smart Habitat Foundation was conducted on January 22, 2018 in New Delhi. As a part of the Indian Russian Conclave, the foundation hosted many delegates and several renowned authorities related to the field of Development, Technologies and Material companies, Architecture and School of Chief Architects. The 4th workshop was the first initiative towards Teach the Trainers program, as it initiated a dialogue amongst the professionals at Creative Group and the academicians and faculty of School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) and Apeejay Institute of Technology, Noida. The exhaustive meeting at the workshop ignited the minds of the faculties with modern professional trends, while the professionals were enlightened by the intellect of the faculties.

The 5th and 6th lectures were conducted as part of an extensive two-day event spanning three venues—Jamia Millia Islamia, Apeejay Institute of Technology and the office of Creative Group. It was conducted with much enthusiasm and zeal by the Dubai-based X Architects—a firm established in 2003 by principal architects Ahmed Al-Ali and Farid Esmaeil. They presented a lecture on ‘Identity Generators: Context as a form generating process’. The experts’ presentations were based on an in-depth study of the passive design strategies inspired from local contexts, traditional knowledge systems, understanding of the sun’s movement and the local climate.

The 7th workshop focused majorly on re-directing the young minds from two different architecture colleges, namely SMVDU and SPA, Delhi, to indulge in an interesting session of conversations. The participants raised arguments about the present condition of Indian cities and attempted to redefine sustainable smart cities for India. In the 8th lecture series, the focus was on ‘Heritage Conservation’, with talks by Ar. Sangeeta Bais (Principal Architect, Dharohar and Vice President of ICOMOS) on ‘Challenges in Conservation: A case study of the living cultural site of the Dargah complex of Ajmer’. Ar. Scott B Knox, Associate Principal Architect of Creative Group, delivered a lecture on ‘Anastylosis – Parthenon Reconstruction: institute for monumental architecture’. Prof. DS Ramakrishna Rao—a practicing architect, pioneer, academician, Dean of Mysore School of Architecture, and Director and Principal Architect of Desirazu Associates—presented a lecture on ‘Heritage Documentation: A new perspective’.

The 9th workshop was conducted to honour Prof. Prem Kumar Chaudhery, for his exemplary contribution of more than 61 years as an architect and academician. Eminent professionals, such as Er. Praween K. Verma, Pradeep Verma, Ar. Rajat Srivastava, Er. Arjoon Garg, Ar. Ravi Shankar, Ar. Amit Khullar and Ar. Vinit Khanna, ignited the young and old minds of the students and teachers, leaving a retrospective impact on everyone.

Pilot Project Initiative

“Flipping through the newspapers in the national capital of Delhi, one occassionally finds a column stressing upon the present condition of Delhi’s urban environment and the mess it is. This often ruins the morning tea and ignites the inner soul of a native citizen to either run away from this metropolitan mayhem, or to do something about the grave situation,” says Ar. Karan Gupta. Unfortunately, our urban governance is so entangled and dispersed that a common man often finds himself helpless in such situations. Recent climate change and rain showers in Delhi have clogged the countless ill-maintained drains and sewers, with millions of gallons of storm water runoff over the roads creating a massive havoc during the rainy season. And yet, we face shortage of clean drinking water almost every year!

After witnessing this ill-managed storm water runoff, we then recently came across the acute water shortage crisis in Chennai, which raised the global concern that ‘if Chennai can run out of water, so can any other city in the world!’ Following this global concern, we at the Smart Habitat Foundation have envisioned water conservation as one of our first initiatives towards creating a sustainable national capital. This pilot project aims to identify three potential spots in Delhi— Ghittorni, Mehrauli and Sheikh Sarai—where we can revive certain landforms to redirect storm water runoff, thus forming lakes and wetlands.

Ar. Vanshi Grover says, “We plan to form a collaboration amongst the highly qualified and concerned architects, urban designers and industrialists to pursue and transform this pilot project into a successful demonstration or example for the citizens and concerned authorities involved in designing urban environments.”

Green Sustainable Architecture Accreditation Program for students and qualified professionals

With an aim to propagate sustainable architecture and urban environments, while keeping in consideration the global scenario of climate change, weather consciousness and smart technologies, the idea for this program is to understand the accreditation and rating processes of not only built complexes, but also urban interventions. To establish a deeper and efficient comprehension of the major rating systems, such as GRIHA, IGBC, LEED, ASSOCHAM GEM, etc., Smart Habitat Foundation would conduct crash courses, workshops, lectures, etc. These would be specially crafted for qualified architects and related professionals, as well as students of architecture and civil engineering, to qualify as accredited and certified professionals as soon as they begin practicing. With special emphasis on passive design strategies of green and sustainable architecture, the short-term courses would ensure the ideology of sustainable architecture to be embedded and absorbed amongst the practitioners, thus ensuring a more environment- conscious approach.

“The holistic spaces and interiors, and their relationship with nature, through art, architecture and technology, are transforming globally and need to be respected locally,” says Dr. RS Sodhi, Co- Chairman. Ar. Manmohan Khanna, Principal, KMA Architecture, adds, “Smart Habitat Foundation is serving the society in a multi-pronged manner. While it is building bridges between the academic and professional architects and designers by its selfless endeavor, it is also raising the bar for professionals and academics by various activities taken up by the members associated with it.”