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Sustainable Development Through The Roof

The functionality of terraces in corporate buildings corresponds to the usage-efficiency of available real-estate space. In Mumbai for example, the issue of low degree of accessibility to building-terraces by the disallowance of lifts to the topmost floors was reconsidered and relaxed by the regional municipal corporation only in 2017. If realized earlier, the ever-growing urban concretization could be have been decelerated by enabling conscious usage of existing terrace spaces over new construction and development.
This applies to other Indian cities accommodating massive corporate buildings especially, as terraces are opportunities to collectively compensate the lost energy and green cover. This compensation relates to the environmental impact of a building that is evaluated in terms of carbon equivalent produced by the construction process. Disrupting existing systems and everyday lives, demolishing buildings, replanting forests, abandoning cars or giving up the comforts of urban living are practices too difficult.
The solution can only be innovations that intervene and not interrupt – a design approach where construction generates green cover, enhancing lives, productivity and mental wellness. On a city level, sustainable development is always work-in-progress and can travel through multiple dimensions, paths and methods; now terrace spaces are under consideration.
A terrace adds to the soul of a building – it has immense potential to bring the outside to the inside and to crack the usual enclosed spatial system. Activating outdoor spaces in work-environments are smart solutions in terms of sustainable development and act as major employee recruitment and retention tool in work-spaces. Terrace design, landscape design, space design are the verticals that can enable activation of rooftop terrace spaces.
This is recognized as a strategy used by companies outside India to improve productivity. However, this kind of innovation is merely attempted in corporate buildings in India other than the exclusive co-working spaces like WeWork, Springboard, etc. that integrate such innovative interventions to generate social impact, style impact and service impact for better spaces and healthy minds. Also, buildings that are structurally unequipped to handle the human load on their terraces can also join the bandwagon through solar panel and wind turbine technologies.
Multi-functional and environment-supportive setups are transforming barren terraces of corporate buildings world-wide. Considering that Corporate Social Responsibility is mandatory in India and large companies have to allocate a minimum of two per cent of their profits yearly on CSR, if such spatial design intervention is developed as a CSR project by corporates, a new dimension to environment and sustainability will be registered in the CSR arena.
The framework of the UN Global Compact constitutes human-centric principles related to society, environment, labour and human rights. The gap lies in inconsideration towards design, technology, knowledge, happiness and animals. When a radical design solution addresses a larger societal issue, the impact is more powerful and lasting. A CSR switch to social and environmental design solutions will embrace green design ideas for corporate buildings. On the other hand, the best ways for corporates to use CSR funds also internally begin with imbibing sustainable innovation in the company’s spatial planning which in turn leads to improved wellness, welfare, health and happiness of employees as well.
Conflating environmental concern and employee wellness, a CSR proposal like LVL AWSM will potentially enrich the impact on buildings and cities by optimizing the space above the four walls, and to accommodate utilitarian, recreational activities, etc. for corporate employees. The idea firstly pertains to using terrace spaces incorporate buildings for micro-farming and plantation for produce and also as a stress-relieving, rejuvenating exercise. Secondly, it generates interactive, communal and gathering spaces progressing beyond ornamental landscaping and green-vistas. Such terrace spaces also create a meeting and collaborative areas alongside an element of recreation and smart-farming. On a smaller level, cafes, restaurant establishments or malls can contextualize the concept and implement the idea over their rooftops. What was once a normal and simple empty terrace becomes a destination by itself.
The concept of LVL AWSM is recognized and nominated by Smart Cities Council India and ideation of this practice not only benefits individuals but works at a larger scale for impacting townships and cities. A one-time investment sets off a chain reaction that can gradually reverse and reclaim ecology. Now couldn’t be a better time to enjoy the perks of urbanity alongside the bounty of nature.

This column was published in the print edition of our magazine. To buy a copy, click here

Rajesh Kumar Das - 10by10Rajesh Kumar Das founded 10by10 in 2015 as a holistic solution provider-oriented towards sustainability and technology that exhibit collaboration between Landscape, Space and Product design services. His expertise in leading experience centre projects has resulted in a collaboration with BESCOM Ltd (Bangalore Electricity Supply Company) for the design of BESCOM Centre for Excellence in Bangalore. He also heads the social project proposal SparcCaps – 2.1.0: Housing for One, a portable compact housing solution.

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The CSR Journal Team