As residents of the post-pandemic world, how do you define luxury? In an urban Indian city, access to green space and good air quality are quickly becoming luxury commodities that only the wealthiest can afford. Our cityscapes have swallowed forests and wetlands, and we’ve driven several birds, bees and butterflies away.
This World Environment Day, here’s a guide to help you design and plan your spaces, be it home or office, keeping sustainability in mind without compromising on luxury. One of the best ways to do it is landscape architecture, the design of outdoor areas.
Landscape architecture is often relegated to merely planting for frivolous embellishment, but in reality, it is like a living art form that integrates strategic planning and environmental science.
There are few pleasures greater than nurturing a garden: it feeds the body, mind, and soul. Terrace gardens, especially, can offer us immersive experiences of nature in the midst of our hectic city lives. They can be designed as havens shielded from the outside world, with plants protecting us from pollution and views of construction sites.
Our planting palettes should subscribe to xeriscaping, where native plants and xerophytes like cacti are prioritised in order to conserve water. Succulents have a strong aesthetic appeal as well. Native species are especially valuable because in addition to supporting local biodiversity and preventing ecosystem collapse, they require much less water and maintenance than the exotic varieties we seem to be in awe of.
Try to minimise impermeable hardscaping. Instead of concrete, choose materials like gravel and grass-pavers. These allow rainwater to infiltrate into the soil, recharge groundwater storage and reduce storm run-off. This, in turn, mitigates local flood risk. I
Here are a couple of tricks to reduce waste within the scope of landscape design:
Construction waste can be turned into sustainable hardscape material. For instance, crushing waste bricks and debris and using the aggregate as a gravel with a distinct red colour.Boulders that emerge from the excavation for a constructing a building can be repurposed as decorative landscape elements in gardens, courtyards, and on terraces.
We all know that time spent in green spaces is directly proportional to stress reduction and promotes healing, and yet this information is barely applied in our built environment. Why not weave nature into our balconies, terraces and offices to reap the benefits of its therapeutic quality and make prettier homes in the process?
Kunal Maniar is founding partner and principal architect, Kunal Maniar & Associates.