How can we design sustainable buildings across different scales and contexts?

Sustainable design can reduce a building’s energy consumption by up to 80%. However, sustainable design strategies should respond to the context— they should balance the site’s unique geography and weather conditions with functional and budgetary restrictions.

At Morphogenesis, we consciously attempt to undertake projects across India’s distinct climatic zones, cost points and scales. From homes to office buildings and large mixed-use developments, projects of all shapes and sizes provide wisdom that can be harnessed for future commissions. Combining these learnings with technical advancements helps us create toolkits and strategies that can be optimally applied in a wide variety of contexts. 

The scope of sustainable design

A crucial aspect that sustainable design addresses is ensuring the livability of spaces. Post-occupancy data, a critical denominator of a building’s success, is often not recorded or  overlooked. By surveying building occupants and studying the project’s energy consumption patterns, one can evaluate results and improve one’s understanding of designing for the specific climate and context. Improving the design approach of sustainability entails tracking these changes to understand what strategies work, what don’t and the different ways a space can be used.

The many facets of sustainability

The Lodsi Community Project in the foothills of the Himalayas is built by the community, for the community, and addresses sociocultural and economic sustainability by employing local materials and skills. A manufacturing facility for a skincare company in Rishikesh, the site’s fragile ecology and off-grid location guided a design approach uniquely focused on optimising the building’s performance for it to be net zero on energy, water and waste. Inspired by the traditional Garhwali ‘kholi’ (house), a North-South oriented butterfly roof form accommodates large openable windows that result in 80% naturally day-lit spaces and channel prevailing winds for ventilation. Façade shading, window-to-wall ratio and building materials were optimised to ensure a high-thermal mass façade resulting in an energy-efficient building envelope. The energy demands of the facility are also met by a solar roof which generates surplus energy that can be supplied back to the grid.

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On the other hand, our design for the Surat Diamond Bourse, which is the world’s largest commercial building, addresses sustainability through the lens of mobility. Bringing together 70,000 diamond buyers, makers, and sellers under one roof meant tackling the primary challenge of facilitating efficient daily navigation of the users through the high-security premises. Inspired by the biological fishbone system of delivery, a linear circulation spine anchors the building, connecting it horizontally and vertically across all levels. The spine funnels the users’ movement into each office block and flares out at the ends to capture the prevailing winds. Housing multiple vertical circulation cores within a one-minute radius of each other in the spine ensures that every worker takes at most 7 minutes to reach their office from the point of entry into the site.


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