Sustainable architecture and an Indian eco-city?

As someone who is very passionate about architecture, and its role in fashioning the future we want for ourselves, I am always curious to hear about urban renewal and eco-city projects and how they can help us to address climate change, food security and water management issues.

Tianjin Eco-City in China is one of many such projects around the world. A number of new technologies are being tested here, including electric driverless cars, rubbish bins that empty themselves into an underground network and a process for cleaning up industrial pollutants.

Neighbourhood Centre, Tianjin Eco-City

However, such developments need to strike a balance between acting as testing grounds for new and innovative technologies and also being livable for their residents.

To date, almost all of the world’s eco-cities have been green follies, crippled by a central paradox: the more they enforce bothersome environmental rules, the less people want to live in them.

How do you see Indian cities taking on this challenge? Will India address its environmental challenges in a more distributed and decentralised way through its large rural population, or do both?

According to Mr Wang, the Deputy Director of Construction for Tianjin Eco City, “the idea is to create something that can be adapted to other cities in China. What we want to develop is cheap technology that we can industrialise, produce and sell on elsewhere. We have to change people’s ideas that being green is expensive.”

New eco-cities in India, such as Manesar near Delhi, will need to learn these lessons from eco-cities around the world (including Tianjin) and ensure that they develop in a practical way that can be embraced by residents and still deliver the desired environmental benefits.

According to prominent Indian architect Balkrishna V. Doshi,

we have lost our awareness. Our cities are becoming working places, not living places. Life is a network. It is not lived in isolation. In a network, there is a place for everything.

So, beyond delivering environmentally, can the development of new eco-cities also help us to reconnect and reimagine our existing cities and our place within them?

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