Mr. Kunal Patel

Architect's Voice, Feb 2009

Vaastu is analogous with key tenets of Climatology & Green building

kunalpatelMr Kunal Patel is an Associate Architect and Principal Designer with HCP Design and Project Management Pvt. Ltd. (HCPDPM) in Ahmedabad. He completed his Diploma in Architecture in 1995 from the School of Architecture, CEPT, Ahmedabad and later took a Diploma in Marketing from the Nirma Institute of Management. He has been associated with HCPDPM since January 1995 and has led several architectural design projects. Mr Patel’s forte is designing fast-paced, large-scale and heavily-serviced production and research facilities for diverse industries. Among the major projects of HCPDPM are Chennai Container Terminal, Arvind Mills Garment Factory, Cadila Healthcare and SEZ for Zydus Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. In an interview with Vaastuyogam, he speaks about Vaastu and its relevance in modern architecture.

kunalpatel1When did you first come across the term Vaastu?

Well, I first heard about Vaastu only superficially while studying architecture at CEPT in 1993. Some of my friends talked about this ancient science while doing projects at CEPT. Though I did not learn more about Vaastu that time, I distinctly remember one thing. As part of the study, we were taught about Climatology. In recent times the Green Building concept also talks about optimized use of resource and energy. But I now believe that Climatology, Green building and Vaastu principles seem to be analogous.

Can you elaborate the concept of ‘Green buildings’?

Yes, it is a concept based on the ‘local use’. There is focus on local environment, use of local raw material and local technology in planning and building a structure. All parts of the building are made mostly from the local material for making it user-friendly. It is also aimed at minimizing harmful effects on health and environment of the occupants.

In ‘Green buildings’, an attempt is made to maintain appropriate and natural air, light and water flow by appropriate design, using eco-friendly material and suitable construction practices. The natural air, light and water flow into the structure is well monitored. The thrust is also on making use of the available space more efficiently. The entry points, courtyard, ventilation everything is designed to usher in positivity using optimal resources.

kunalpatel2When did you first meet Dr Ravi Rao?

Well, I first came in contact with Dr Ravi Rao in 2003. We were then working on the garment factory project of Arvind Mills located at Santhej. Dr Rao had already told the Arvind Mills management about the Vaastu norms that can be implemented in the factory premises and its vicinity. We were also briefed about it when the designing work was going on.

Let me tell you that when we decided to implement Vaastu in the Arvind Mills project as desired by the factory owner, we entirely depended on Dr Rao because we believe he is an expert in this field.

What kind of suggestions did Dr Rao make in this project?

The suggestions from Dr Rao were about the correct light and air flow; separate entry points for the management and workers; exact place for dumping the scrap etc. All these changes were not very difficult for an architect/designer to incorporate in the plans. However, on one occasion, Dr Rao’s suggestion on the correct place for a courtyard was not feasible from the design point of view. But Dr Rao offered us an option that worked functionally well, too. So Dr Rao has the competency to provide options when certain things are sometimes not appropriate from the functional perspective.

After the work of Arvind Mills, we were associated with Dr Rao for a company called KHS Machinery (Mamata Group) in Hirapur. It is a firm that manufactures the bottling plant machinery. Here, too, there was good coordination between Dr Rao and us.

How far do you follow Vaastu tenets in your projects?

Well, on our own, we don’t experiment with Vaastu because we are not specialists in this science. Also we don’t believe in ‘short acquisition’ or trying it half-heartedly. However, when clients want us to follow tenets while designing the structure, we recommend Dr Rao’s name. And I believe that Vaastu can be incorporated in Architectural Design like any other important engineering or utility service input related to Structural, Electrical, HVAC, Plumbing Design, thus harnessing positive energy in any structure.

Do you think Vaastu is getting its due importance at this juncture?

Well, there are two types of people in India. In the first category are true believers of Vaastu. They have immense faith in God or the Divine and they would also adhere to the Vaastu principles to the best possible extent. In the second category, there are people who are forced  believers of Vaastu. They resort to Vaastu only when any emergency arises; they think of experimenting with Vaastu principles only when an emergency arises. For such people, Vaastu is tried more out of need and curiosity rather than strong belief in this science.

What is your real take on Vaastu?

From my experience, I can state that observing Vaastu principles is one of the practical ways of problem-solving. It is unnecessary to resist Vaastu when you understand that it is a time-tested knowledge. But let me state that Vaastu principles need to discussed and incorporated at the initial planning stage so that there is smooth working. Making changes after the construction of building is over or nearing completion can become problematical at times.

Do you think the new generation of architects/planners would adhere to Vaastu?

Frankly speaking, the new generation of architects and planners seem to be overambitious. They desire to make fast progress and bucks. Though they may be aware of Vaastu, they seem to be more interested in short-term gains. Sometimes, I feel, they do not know what exactly they are aiming for. As a result, the Vaastu implementation gets diluted.

– Girish Mudholkar

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