The 10th edition of Birla White Yuva Ratna Awards, held in Mumbai recently, drove home a very significant point – the need for building sustainability concepts into architecture design.
The awards are a culmination of the Yuva Ratna contest that was launched by Birla White in 2004 as a way to recognise students of architecture who showed creativity and excellence in designing spaces and structures on a predefined theme. Today, Yuva Ratna has not only evolved into an important event in the academic calendar of aspiring Indian architects, it is also attracting international attention. In fact, the overwhelming participation by foreign students over the past two years has raised the competition’s profile and given Indian participants a good understanding of and exposure to global trends in architecture.
Required: Sustainable workspaces
Birla White believes there is an immediate need to improve work environments in urban cities through sustainable initiatives and the aim of the Yuva Ratna contest is to find solutions to such issues through creative ideas and solutions from talented architects.
Thus, for the 2013 contest, participants were invited to design a NextGen Sustainable Corporate Office complex for a conglomerate. The challenge was to have all 10 companies of the conglomerate work together in harmony and synergy on a 12-acre campus with an FSI of 1.00.
The competition witnessed more than 1,000 participants, with 445 designs received from over 60 colleges, and the quality of entries was commendable. Students were expected to provide sustainable and efficient work environments within the given parameters. Along with office spaces, participants had to incorporate leisure and health zones, boardrooms, auditoriums, guest houses, refreshment areas, etc. in the designs. The most important parameter was to ensure that the work space meets the definition of a Zero Energy Building.
Eco-friendly and innovative
A unique initiative this year was the introduction of an online submission platform for participants. The judges — leading architects Dr. Ravindra Deshmukh, Mr. Rajeev Thakker, Mr. Eranna Yekbote and Mr. Niraj Doshi — also evaluated the entries online, thus helping save costs, time and paper, and making the contest more green.
Nature was the main protagonist in all three winning designs. The design by first prize-winner Mr. Saikat Roy from Birla Institute of Technology in Mesra — was a corporate complex inspired by the waterfalls of Maharashtra, so he took into account the serenity and smooth flow of water. Sunlight formed the basis of the design that won the second prize. This design, created by Darshan Rajendra from the Adhiyamaan College of Engineering, made for half of the building to be exposed to the sun and the other half to be kept in shade thereby creating an office with ample natural light and proper ventilation. Wind was the inspiration behind the design by Upasana Paul from the Department of Architectural Engineering, Jadavpur University, which won the third prize for its sustainable design based on passive cooling.
An impressive show
Birla White Yuva Ratna tests submissions on two briefs — an intellectual understanding of the designated theme, and its unique presentation. The fact that students were able to integrate these two requirements became evident when Mrs. Rajashree Birla, Director, UltraTech Cement Ltd, said of the designs: “The architectural plans conceptualised by the students reflect creativity, innovativeness and pragmatism of the finest order. Overall, all the designs have an admirably integrated approach and look like great places to work in. The Birla White Yuva Ratna contest seems to be stimulating the intellect, and stoking innovation among students.”
In his speech, architect Niraj Doshi spoke of net zero energy buildings being the future of construction in India and emphasised how the use of natural elements such as water and sunlight in architectural designs can create stunning, sustainable structures.
Products for a sustainable future
Mr. Rahul Mohnot, Unit Head — Birla White, spoke about how sustainability has become a core focus area for the company. “Birla White’s products are synonymous with aesthetics, environment friendliness, and an overall sense of spreading happiness. This year’s theme reflects the changing preference of our society that is increasingly leaning towards the concept of green buildings. A lot of research goes into Birla White’s eco-friendly products and they provide architects with an opportunity to experiment with design while building sustainability in their work,” he said.
Given the wonderful ideas that emerged from this year’s contest, it is hoped that future editions of Birla White Yuva Ratna would continue to present to the world the architects of tomorrow — people who are able to create structures that are beautiful and sustainable.
Dr. Pragnya RamGroup Executive President, Corporate Communications & CSRAditya Birla Management Corporation Private LimitedAditya Birla Centre, 1st Floor, 'C' WingS.K. Ahire Marg, WorliMumbai 400 030.
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