Monday, January 6, 2014

Old world charm of exteriors contemporary interiors

We would like to describe, not a village in the backwaters of Kerala or in the distant comers of Tamil Nadu but a gated complex with villas in the centre of Bangalore. It is known as Armadale built by Chaitanya projects.

You may see smooth Chettinad columns, dormer windows of the Kerala style, and Jaglis of Andhra Pradesh decorating the houses standing among the coconut and chikkoo trees. Iron swings, pergolas and such old-world charm mark the end of one villa and where another one starts. Sloping roofs of Mangalore tiles make the scenecomplete.

Many people have an attachment to traditional architecture that reminds them of their childhood and their roots. However as the times have changed this kind of old architecture is not practical for the interiors. Here is traditional and contemporary architecture enters the scene giving the charm of bygone days along with the functionality of today’s world.

Every small detail at Armadale is taken care of to produce period architecture. Steps with a concrete parapet wall lead up to the main entrance. Both sides of the main door have small niches to put diyas. Jaglis outside the main door welcomeinmates to come and rest with a book to read or to listen to the chirruping ofbirds in the trees that frame the house.

The joint Managing Director of Chaitanya projects says that people like to have a link to the past without doing away with the comforts of modem interiors. It is not sensible to have total period architecture because of the practical problems involved. The traditional appearance should be limited to the outer parts.

There are little spikes on top in the Dormer windows that emphasize the period look. Outer walls are painted with a double color of yellow and cream divided with red oxide as in past days. They have done their best to keep the trees by building the villas around them. In some cases they have been replanted around. Chettinad columns support the sloping tiled roofs at the entrance of everyvilla. Wooden support to the roofs makes it look genuine.

People opposed the small size windows as they prefer to have larger ones. However they decided to keep the smaller size in order not to spoil the traditional appearance. Multiple win- dows were provided to give light and ventilation. Modem architecture means large windows whereas period architecture has small ones. Large windows have been rejected for medium sized ones.

When you enter the villa it is like all other homes with granite and marble structures and the contemporary fittings. The lamps in the garden are like the antique ones. Corridors with columns running round give the appearance of a typical period bungalow of south India very much like a picture postcard.

Whenever one steps out of the house one is greeted by the atmosphere of a different age. One of the residents thinks it is fascinating and charming. He wanted to have the period appearance in the house too but had to give it up on account of practical problems. He used traditional Attangudi tiles on the floor to make the inside with a period look also.

Whether the structure is Scottish, Tudor or traditionally Indian there is definitely a demand for a blend of the styles to help people relate to it according to their thinking. Architecture does not have to be strictly blended out of modem and traditional. They have created Scottish style exteriors in other projects as well as a Tudor style like in others at Whitefield.

The Press Note 2 of 2005 makes it mandatory to have minimum capitalization, minimum area of development and three year lock-in period to allow the flow of Foreign Direct Investment in real estate. Attempts were made within the government to gain exemption for real estate projects from this Press Note on the condition that they include hotel and tourism components.

Foreign Direct Investments in real estate would not be exempt from the compulsory three-year lock-in period where 'mixed' projects that include hotel and tourism activities are concerned. Various proposals were considered in the consultationbetween ministries and following this the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) sent round a note for the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to consider which states that the lock-in should remain.

The perspective thinking within the government is that for the flow of FDI in projects including hotel and tourism activities exemption could be provided from minimum capitalization and minimum area of development. Such an exemption will be subject to 50% of the total built-up area in such projects being kept for tourism activities and 20% of the total built-up area being set apart for hotel rooms. A note to this end has been submitted by the Dipp to the Prime Minister's Office and ministries handling the subject. According to highlyplaced government sources it would be sent to the CCEA with the remarks ofother departments.

A project that wants to be eligible for this exemption must be at least 50% composed of restaurants, resorts and tourism complexes that give accommodation and connected services to tourists. The 'tourism facility' categorization would also be for travel agencies, tour operators, transport agencies, units dealing with cultural activities and wildlife, entertainment services, sports amusement parks and health facilities.

Apart from this at least 20% of the full built- up area of the projects should be composed of hotel rooms. According to this at least 30% of the full built-up area should be earmarked for tourism activities besides hotel rooms. Theobjective of the exemption is to give a thrust to tourism infrastructure in FDI.

The concerned authority would control the construction projects carried out with mixed development. There would be no misuse of residential buildings for non-residential purposes. Some of the other conditions to be fulfilled according to the Dipp note sent to the PMO are adequate parking space, structural safety of the buildings, rain-water harvesting and providing barrier-free environment.

In order to make sure that the flow of foreign money did not cause speculation in the real estate business the government had made clearance to FDI in real estate and construction conditional through Press Note 5. A warning has been issued by the Reserve Bank about a 'real estate bubble' and foreign venture capital funds in this sector have slowed down in investment. Real estate developers have simultaneously been urging for open-minded FDI norms as they are encountering pressure because of a downturn in demand and falling valuations.

The first draft for the CCEA on FDI in 'mixed' projects had suggested exemption from compulsory lock-in also. The present one is the second draft.

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