Changing house design in Indian cities- experiences and memories

April 10, 2014 / By  

Nothing is more permanent than change. Sometimes the change is sudden, but more often it is continuous and subtle, and we tend to realise it only when we miss what has changed. Residences in urban India illustrate this process of steady and subtle change, which most people will relate to easily. Features and components of houses we grew up in are already a part of history, and today’s style and components will also have an expiry date. As we do not build houses the way we used to, among the many things I grew up with that I miss now are:

Having breakfast on my balcony, playing indoor games on the veranda during harsh summer afternoons, the cool breeze entering my house and comforting me as I read, chandeliers hung from high ceilings creating moods with their play of light and shadows, making play areas in the corners and courtyards of buildings, running into a ground floor flat for water after cricket or football, making a herbarium for show-and-tell with plants from my old building, and the list goes on.

The rise in property prices because of large-scale urbanisation and the failure to unlock new land for cities is the main reason for changes in house design. Balconies are a luxury few can afford. Since their inclusion in the Floor Space Index, verandas have turned into guest rooms or sitting areas for growing families. Rooms with two sides open are no more, creating a dependence on air-conditioning. Changing by-laws have forced lower floor heights and have made the ground level into parking under stilts. Today’s tendency is to build one bigger and taller building instead of a group of smaller and shorter ones, and this has led to those numerous smaller semi-private open spaces vanishing. We have tried regimenting nature by planting only certain types of trees and shrubs that are easy to grow and have modest requirements for air space.

However, I enjoy watching the city’s pace from my French windows, the time I save to reach the gym in my complex, not walking in the rain to my car, spending less than a minute to go from the parking floor to the 20th, feeling the high from my 20th floor house overlooking those buildings shorter than mine, and this too goes on, but I must say that this list is shorter than the other.

I have a trick: when I am nostalgic, I slip into my private virtual world of memories, relive moments spent in my earlier homes and come out into the contemporary soon enough. If I succeed in enjoying the contemporary, I shall create more fond memories for the future, since today’s contemporary could be tomorrow’s obsolete! I like to think that houses of today are as good as houses of yesterday, for the fact that they have always housed us and our expectations in the best manner they possibly can.

Notify of

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Talk to us 
about real estate markets.