Category Archives: Uncategorized

Krithika Prakash on Sustainability Program at NUS | DT Interview

Specialising in sustainable design is an idea that has picked up within this decade, with several renowned institutions offering sustainability focused programs. Predominantly these programs choose to enroll a multidisciplinary batch of students for promoting interchanging of diverse ideas. Whether this is beneficial for specialising in sustainability is something that remains questionable. For understanding how such programs truly work and what do they equip a student with, DesignTerrains held an interview with Krithika Prakash, who is an alumna of the National University of Singapore and had undertaken masters in their leading sustainability program.

About Krithika Prakash

After graduating in 2015 with a bachelors in architecture, Krithika worked as an architect in Bangalore and Hyderabad before bending her career towards sustainability. She has a masters from National University of Singapore in Integrated Sustainable Design and at present is with Arth Design Build, Singapore as a BIM Coordinator.

MSc Integrated Sustainable Design, NUS

Focused on sustainable urbanisation of Asian cities, this one year post professional course at National University of Singapore is one of the top ranked sustainability course in the world. It encompasses a multidisciplinary approach and covers technical and spatial knowledge required to work in the domain of sustainability.

However, it is imperative to know whether the course is able to achieve what it claims. To understand its strengths and shortcomings, we are thankful to Krithika for taking out time and giving our readers an inside overview of the ISD program.

If you are considering applying to NUS for this course, this piece of conversation will benefit you in many ways!

DesignTerrains (DT): How early in your career, did you realize your inclination towards sustainable design?

Krithika Prakash (KP): Sustainability is at the forefront when it comes to tackling most major issues globally today. As an architect and a designer, I felt we as a profession are morally obliged to play a bigger role in this and set a path for the future. During my undergrad and then while I was working post that, I constantly read about what’s happening in the field of Building Design and Construction in terms of sustainability and it eventually seemed like the obvious path to choose if I were to pursue a Master’s Degree.

Continue reading Krithika Prakash on Sustainability Program at NUS | DT Interview

Curating Evolution of Poombarai Settlement | SWS 002

Project Field : Architecture
Project Year : 2018
Project Type : Competition Entry (NASA 2018 LIK Trophy)
Institution : Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai
Team Members:
Vidhushyaa; Sowjith; Maoulieswaran; Akeel; Amritha; Gayathri; Gokul; Subraja; Ishwarya; Renga; Deepak; Jeysadhana; Marugananthavalli; Prasath; Kirithika; Nikil; Vijay

Disclaimer : Project text and work is provided by the rightful owners to Design Terrains. It cannot be used for any purpose without permission.

About Poombarai

The Poombarai settlement in Tamil Nadu, India is rich with its contextual architecture addressing the contour, climate and the spiritual background that supports the village’s functioning. With caste based initiation of settlement pattern, the ownership of various spaces for various generation of user is very unique

The site selected is group of dwellings in Poombarai . The street activity being the major focus to differentiate . The linear clusters, street was studied based on the interiors of the houses in them , for instance , the presence of chairs or bed space anthropometry played a major role in the street activity.

Poombarai. Src Project Team.
Evolution of Dwellings

The Evolution of the dwellings over years has significant role on user requirements. This change in typologies are mainly due to various factors like climate, comfort, skill, strength and availability of materials. The first dwellings typology is Alaku Kutchi, made of twigs and mud. Later Muthaliyars started constructing in stone, which showed their wealth. During British influence , natives became exposed to new materials and construction like wood and glass .Currently, suiting current context and economy, Bricks are being used, as it is cheap and easily available.

Continue reading Curating Evolution of Poombarai Settlement | SWS 002

Discovering altARQ with Tunisha Mehta | DT Interview

Tunisha Mehta

Tunisha is the founder of altARQ collaborative and is currently working with the Bihar State Government to spearhead an international collaboration of volunteers from multiple disciplines for new urban studies’ exploration and implementation.

As an architect, she had her professional training from Design Atelier – Bangalore, Junya.Ishigami+Associates – Tokyo and Mangera Yvars Architects – Barcelona. Having worked in India, Japan and Spain, she firmly believes a deep contextual understanding is key to any veritable set-up.


altARQ collaborative is a consultancy practice rooted in architecture and urbanism for The Global South. They work with crossovers of multiple disciplines to system think and design for problem-solving with r-urban resilience, sustainability, and spatial equity as their core concepts. The practice is anchored in the r-urban development of Bihar, India.

Project Patna

A research-driven call-to-action initiative by altARQ to rethink Patna’s Urban dynamics, generating new insights for urban planning and governance. The project is in the team-building phase and is openly inviting architects, urbanists, geographers, economists, and policy analysts to join in. Tunisha believes that the germination of this project has a distant vision of adopting urban resilience and spatial justice in the existing Indian cities.

The Carbon Casbah

The project is a design exploration into Carbon Sequestration and Negative Emission Schemes as a material allegory to the Sundarbans’ Mangroves. It is designed with locally available and low embodied impact materials like bamboo, wood, soil, and biochar-concrete, that sequester carbon than with materials that emit carbon in their lifecycle. It was designed as a housing solution for the Sundarbanis, as scaling it up into social collectives- according to the needs of the populace- with careful adoption of alternate economies favouring the conservation of biodiversity should help create sustainable communities and generate resilience to climate change.   

Carbon Casbah is built with light-weight local materials that sequester carbon, they’re flood-resilient, affordable and scalable. img via altARQ

In conversation with us, Tunisha brings forth the true meaning of an unconventional practice and the need for compassionate research on civic issues. Read on to find interesting insights into her practice and projects!

DesignTerrains (DT): altARQ is a great initiative! When did you first conceive the idea of a research-based practice?

Tunisha Mehta (TM): Thanks, so is DesignTerrains! It’s so critical to foster among students and professionals empathy towards the climate.
So the distant goal is to have a larger, more meaningful impact on the planet and all its beings. The idea germinated very early on during the final year of university as “alternative architecture.” Those days, I was a huge fan of alt-rock and prog-rock music; these genres are quite distinct from mainstream and commercial music. Inspired by this and hence, altARQ does not recognise itself as only an architecture studio, it’d rather be a testbed for ideas and innovations.

The practice intends to break boundaries of mainstream architecture practice and go beyond the disciplinary silos. Gradually, I hope to shift the practice of altARQ to international development with architecture and urbanism feeding insights to it.  

Continue reading Discovering altARQ with Tunisha Mehta | DT Interview

Panyaden Secondary School Design Concept | Chiangmai Life Architects

Project Year : Construction started in 2018 and is estimated to finish in 2022.
Design Team: Chiangmai Life Architects (Markus Roselieb and Tosapon Sittiwong)
Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Photograph credits: Markus Roselieb CLA

We are humbled to bring to our readers an insight to one of the ongoing project of CLA, an architectural practice based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The practice is well known for their work with organic architecture and sustainability. We went ahead and asked them about the concept and ideas behind designing of Panyaden Secondary School, along which they have also uncovered various techniques that are employed in the building.

We are personally in awe with their values and respect their determination in establishing an unconventional precedence. Read on to find what they have to say on the project!

Markus Roselieb and Tosapon Sittiwong ; img via CLA

Panyaden’s main concept for design as well as curriculum is to connect. Connect us to our environment, connect natural materials with state-of-the-art engineering science, connect value-based education with the highest academic standards, sustainable architecture and 21st century comforts. It is about bringing aspects together that were thought to be mutually exclusive; including not excluding.

Bringing the subtle vibrations of nature into the room through organic shapes and natural materials and letting them create a peaceful atmosphere, and equipping the room with the most modern science equipment and 5G embedded in an IB curriculum.

Panyaden School is situated in northern Thailand where the temperatures vary greatly all year round – from 5 to 10C° in winter to 45C° in summer. So the design and materials had to accommodate these differences with a minimum use of air-conditioning or other high energy consumptive devices.

“The architectural design concept by Chiangmai Life Architects is based on organic shapes. Flowing natural lines that are in tune with the environment and maximize natural ventilation effects.”

The main materials chosen for construction are clay and bamboo. Clay in the form of adobe bricks, rammed earth or wattle & daub walls and bamboo for the roofs and as main material for open buildings in Thai language called “sala”, like the canteen. For 2-storey buildings the local building commission demanded a reinforced concrete frame work. Also all foundations were cast from reinforced concrete.

The bamboo roof is based on long bamboo bundles that are made of bamboo poles that are connected to each other with bamboo dowels all through their length and thus create a steel cable like tensile structure. The tiling is done by several layers of split-bamboo tiles with tar sheets sandwiched in between for water proofing as well as thermal insulation.

The earthen walls create a nice cool room climate that is enhanced by the characteristics of the bamboo roof. Additionally, clean fresh air is circulated into the rooms after having been cooled down through heat-exchange in underground pipes.

“Thus the carbon footprint from construction as well as from operation is minimal.”

Construction Glimpse

A Talk with Farah Naz Ahmad On U.S. Green Buildings, Education, Government and more | DT Interviews

Farah Naz Ahmad is a Registered Architect with NCARB, LEED AP, a sustainable design professional and now working as a government official on public projects in New York. She graduated in 2012 from City College of New York, with a bachelors in architecture. Her role as Student Communications Project Leader for the CCNY team at Solar Decathlon 2011, has had a huge impact on her current career choice.

She also served as the President of American Institute of Architecture Students chapter at CCNY. As an observer, she attended the signing of Paris Agreement for Climate Change on Earth Day 2016, and has shared few clips from the day at UN headquarters on her blog. She actively engages with students and professionals via Twitter @farah_arch and Instagram @renewablefarah.

Born and brought up in New York, she has a keen interest in the way city is responding to the climate change and green architecture. In conversation with DesignTerrains, she hints on the factors influencing building sustainably in the US and her personal journey as a sustainable design architect.

DesignTerrains (DT) : How early in your career did you start thinking about energy efficiency in buildings?

Farah Ahmad (FA) : Professionally one of my first role was working on an energy engineering project in the public schools of New York city. That particular project involved energy savings for public schools that were 30,000 sq. ft. buildings to 300,000 sq. ft. buildings. What we were doing was replacing older lighting fixtures with more energy efficient ones.

Continue reading A Talk with Farah Naz Ahmad On U.S. Green Buildings, Education, Government and more | DT Interviews

‘Green Nudges’ programme for Universities | UNEP

UN Environment Programme had launched on 1st September 2020, an easy to use sustainable campus guide – ‘The Little Book of Green Nudges‘. The book defines nudges as positive and gentle persuasions that are meant to influence behaviour and decision-making. Such interventions include choice architecture, default setting, social influence and increased salience.

via The Little Book of Green Nudges by UNEP

Developed by UNEP in collaboration with Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) and GRID-Arendal, it contains 40 ready-made nudges – simple measures that make it easier to make green choices – which university campuses can deploy to encourage students and staff to embrace more sustainable behaviours.

This book can be used a guide by anyone who wants to create positive change at their university, anywhere around the world, from provosts to campus sustainability coordinators to professors to student leaders.

Continue reading ‘Green Nudges’ programme for Universities | UNEP

atpX on Collective Growth of Community & More | DT Interview

Led by a team of two, atpX is a multidisciplinary international design practice that has evolved out of curiosity for a balance between the innovation and tradition.

With GenRes 18 (Generate Resilience) being the founding community project, the practice is now immersed in research and innovation based – LivingLab, Project Neer, The Oasis, 100 Doors, The Router, along with many others.

atpX team : Alisha Raman & Sarvesh Singh

Alisha Raman and Sarvesh Singh began their design quest for bamboo construction early in their graduation in India, which has now proliferated as design derivative exploration of community practices, technological and material alternatives, parametrics, traditional crafts and more.

In conversation with DesignTerrains, the team brings forward their journey so far along with upturning reflections on their practice and projects. Read on to discover more about the visions steering their work!

DesignTerrains (DT) : You have come a long way since GenRes18 at Majuli Island in Assam. How do you look back and consider its success in establishing atpX?

atpX (AX) : So kind of you to say this. Reflecting on that experience, there has been one key learning – that the most effective solutions often stem from the most uncertain places and not knowing can potentially be a blessing.

We’re still not sure if the project is a success, at least in conventional metrics, probably because so much of it doesn’t conform to what you would call industrial norms. But, it certainly tries to respond mindfully to its environment and perhaps this awareness led to the genesis of our praxis.

Continue reading atpX on Collective Growth of Community & More | DT Interview

Upcycled Shipping Container Microhouse | Sukshm | SWS 001

Student : Shivam Arya

Semester : Sixth

Course : Bachelor of Architecture

Institution : Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi

Project Year : 2020

Project Type : Competition Entry – 2nd RunnerUp at Micronation Competition 1

Project Brief

The competition brief was quite simple. We were asked to design a microhouse living concept on a hypothetical site of 5mx5m with basic living requirements as provided with proper planning, sections, illustrations and other explanatory details as per participants’ interest.

Research and Concept Synthesis

Though the provided brief was straightforward but the challenge was to come up with a unique spatial algorithm. I started bifurcating the brief and thought of going in detail of every aspect and requirements.

Upon doing enough research on materials and existing microhousing trends, I finally came up with an adaptable design – which was upcycling of shipping container. I found this to be practical as well as environment friendly. My focus was to showcase sustainability factors in design when added to fulfilling design brief requirements.

Although shipping containers have been employed practically in many affordable housing projects, my input to this was creating a better responsive spatial arrangement while using every surface as an opportunity for enhancing energy efficiency and biodiversity.

Continue reading Upcycled Shipping Container Microhouse | Sukshm | SWS 001

Daylight Simulation using Rhino + Grasshopper | EDS Online Course

Why Daylight Simulation?

Daylight Simulation helps designers in identifying best building orientations to reduce heat gain and HVAC loads. For the ambient indoor environment, it can help decide advanced passive interventions for reduced glare and sufficient diffused light penetration.

Energy Efficient or Green Buildings are recognised solutions for slowing down climate change and reduce overall contribution to carbon emissions. Professionals in the building sector and green building analysts are adapting to this need and the use of Computer-Aided Design has proliferated the results.

About Organiser

Environmental Design Solutions (EDS) organises various workshops and courses on enhancing building performance and reducing its carbon footprint. EDS is a sustainability advisory firm focusing on the built environment. They have worked on over 350 green building and energy efficiency projects worldwide

Course Details

This certification course lasts for 2 weeks, starting 21st September 2020. It enables learning of 3D modeling in Rhindo3D and scripting in Grasshopper to conduct daylight simulation using Ladybug and Honeybee plug-in.

Course Duration – 2 weeks (21st Sep – 4th Oct)

Course Fees

Professionals – ₹7,500 [USD 105]

Students – ₹5,500 [USD 78]

Early Bird – ₹5,000 [USD 70]

Course website

In a Discourse with Green Building Analyst Vaishaly | DT Trail

Founder of Doodle Studio, Vaishaly is a Delhi based architect with expertise in Sustainable architecture. Her thesis project had bagged the 2016 INSDAG National Award for Innovative Use of Steel. Working as a green building analyst at Environmental Design Solutions (EDS) for 3 years now, she has had significant experience in handling building rating systems and striving for net-zero buildings.

In a talk with DesignTerrains, Vaishaly uncovers her experience in building analysis and passion for ‘Green Architecture’. With Pushpangan being a milestone in her journey, she explains the challenges of working with unconventional building techniques.

DesignTerrains (DT) : Congratulations Vaishaly on realizing your first sustainable project, your own residence Pushpangan. What inspirited you to independently take up this challenge of building sustainably?

Vaishaly (VA) : My love for creating a better world made me take this challenge. Since college, I have been incorporating sustainability aspects in each of my studio projects. I wanted to implement them in real life as well.

DT : That’s a great first step! Amongst the featured low impact techniques of this project, which one in your opinion was the most backbreaking to achieve?

VA : I would say, getting bamboo work done on-site was the most challenging one. As we do not get skilled labor to work on this material in the Noida region, I planned a bamboo workshop at the site itself. Around 10 people participated from varied backgrounds and we did the whole cutting, finishing, chemical treatment of bamboo on our own. Only the installation was taken care of by the site workers. It was a great experience for me and I will always be grateful to all those who participated during that time. 

Continue reading In a Discourse with Green Building Analyst Vaishaly | DT Trail