Contextualizing the Landscape Design to Cultural Traditions: A Case of Community Open Spaces in Pune, India

India has rich and diverse cultural heritage where cultural traditions are an important part of life. Festival celebrations are pause points in the routine life of the people apart from being rituals in religious traditions. Community open spaces are important settings for the festival celebrations and cultural activities. Historic cities had community open spaces closely integrated in the fabric of the city with spatial characteristics developed in response to the cultural traditions. The “synomorphy” (as defined by Roger Barker) of the spatial setting and the cultural traditions developed in the traditional settlements is evident even today in the old city cores of Indian cities. This paper takes case of the city of Pune to study the cultural traditions and festivals and their spatial settings in context of landscape design. Pune, an important city in the state of Maharashtra, is called as the cultural capital of the state. The paper uses a descriptive and qualitative approach to study and present the space-culture associations based on observation and activity mapping of open spaces in various parts of the city during festivals. Secondary data and literature is also used to understand the spatiality of the festivals and for triangulation of the data. Like many cities in the world, the city of Pune has grown rapidly in past few decades owing to the globalisation and technological revolution. The city on one hand offers state-of-the-art business and educational opportunities while on the other has strong cultural patterns evident even today in the celebrations and festivals. The simultaneity of the modern as well as the traditional probably makes the city an interesting livable place. The change in housing form and open space structure has resulted in the loss of domestic open space, which was earlier present in traditional houses and served as places for family functions and festival celebrations. Today, community open spaces are largely used for cultural activities and festival celebrations. The landscapes of the community open spaces are dominantly programmed to meet recreational activities and have very typical park-like character. Certain cultural activities that are best suited on a barren ground cannot be supported by the lawn. The lawn dominated landscapes have a lot of restrictions imposed on their usage as maintaining a lawn is an expensive task in tropical, water-scarce situations. Use of purely ornamental and exotic species of plants lacks any of the cultural associations that the native species have. Findings of the study point to the need for contextualizing open space design with an aim of creating culture-responsive settings conducive for cultural activities.

Sustainability with Health in Mind: A Case for Daylighting

Historically, the use of daylighting has been justified primarily on the basis of the energy-saving proposition. However, in practice, this argument has not had the anticipated impact. The majority of today’s buildings continue to rely mostly on electric lighting rather than adopting active daylighting solutions. Designers and building developers have the tendency to favor technological advances in lighting fixture efficiency rather than using daylight as a means of illumination. This paper attempts to provide strong justifications for a paradigm shift in the way we think about daylighting in architecture. This proposed argument is based on health rather than energy efficiency. Light in general, and daylight in particular, is vital to our lives. Light has a particularly strong influence on many aspects of human health. These health aspects are discussed in this paper in terms of light impacting circadian rhythm and sunlight producing vitamin D through our skin. By way of their shapes and their fenestration, buildings play a significant role in controlling how much daylight people are exposed to inside their homes and their workplaces. As a consequence, building design could have a significant effect on human health. We contend that building daylighting should be addressed in terms of energy saving as well as in terms of building occupants’ health and wellbeing.