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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Urban Safety

Violence & crime has many forms and in urban settings it can be more complex. It is very difficult to predict crime beforehand and crime or violence can take place with any individual. Several types of crimes for example are- Murder, Aggravated Assault, Forcible Sex Offenses, NonForcible Sex Offenses, Kidnapping/Abduction, Simple Assault, Intimidation, Arson, Burglary, Criminal Mischief/Damaged Property, Larceny, Motor Vehicle Theft, Theft from Motor Vehicle, Robbery, Drugs/Narcotics Violations, Gambling, Criminal Trespass and many more (NIBRS Crime Types). Racism in most developed countries take form of hate crime. In the recent very unfortunate event, where an Indian was shot to death by an American Navy veteran in Kansan, was a result of hate crime. The accused later confessed that he mistook the Indian to be from Middle-East. Hate Crimes are criminal offenses motivated either entirely or in part by the fact or perception that a victim is different from the perpetrator (Levin and McDevit, 2008).

Personal Safety & Safety through the eyes of Jane Jacob
Jacob in her book, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ explained what was lacking in the conventional modern city planning and well as expected this was not very welcomed by the architects, planners and engineers. Jacob identified three levels of city neighbourhood- City, District and the Streets. Streets should be able to effectively ask for help when enormous problems arise. Effective districts should therefore exist to represent streets to the city. City is the source of most public money – from federal or state coffers. “A city street equipped to handle strangers, and to make a safety asset, in itself, out of the presence of strangers, as the streets of successful city neighborhoods always do, must have three main qualities: First, there must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects. Second, there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers must be oriented to the street. They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind. And third, the sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers. Nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window at an empty street. Almost nobody does such a thing. Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on, by watching street activity.”(Jane Jacobs)
Our modern parks have also become unsafe. In a recent news report in titled- “Green parks choke on crime and neglect” was published in The Telegraph (30.09.2015), people made narrations which were saddening -- "They thrashed me when I tried to stop them from stealing the lampposts. Now, soon after sunset, the park slips into darkness and hundreds of gamblers create nuisance at least till 10 in the night," said Jha. "When I went to the park in the afternoon with my wife, the guard told me that the park is open only in the morning and evening. Later, another employee started an argument with us and I realised that he was drunk. Thereafter, I visited the nearby CID Colony Park and found the same situation. I raised the matter in front of a senior police officer but no action was taken in this regard," said Choudhary. "Though the parks remain closed during the daytime, we often see young couples trespassing it illegally and indulging in obscene activities by hiding behind the bushes. The guard simply sits in his cabin," said Ramesh Prasad, a resident of New Patliputra Colony (Kolkata).  
Jacob argued that – Parks lacked surveillance mechanisms in parks. Successful, functional parks are those under intense use by a diverse set of companies and residents. Such parks usually possess four common characteristics: intricacy, centering, sun, and enclosure. Intricacy is the variety of reasons people use parks, among them centering or the fact that parks have a place known as their centres. Sun, shaded in the summer, should be present in parks, as well as building to enclose parks.
Stores, bars and restaurants, as the chief examples, work in several different and complex ways to abet sidewalk safety. First, they give people - both residents and strangers - concrete reasons for using the sidewalks on which these enterprises face. Second, they draw people along the sidewalks past places which have no attractions to public use in themselves but which become travelled and peopled as routes to somewhere else; this influence does not carry very far geographically, so enterprises must be frequent in a city district if they are to populate with walkers those other stretches of street that lack public places along the sidewalk. Moreover, there should be many different kinds of enterprises, to give people reasons for crisscrossing paths. Third, storekeepers and other small businessmen are typically strong proponents of peace and order themselves; they hate broken windows and holdups; they hate having customers made nervous about safety. They are great street watchers and sidewalk guardians if present in sufficient numbers. Fourth, the activity generated by people on errands, or people aiming for food or drink, is itself an attraction to still other people. This last point, that the sight of people attracts still other people, is something that city planners and city architectural designers seem to find incomprehensible. They operate on the premise that city people seek the sight of emptiness, obvious order and quiet. (Jane Jacob,1961).

Going Digital
As technology has emerged, safety can be taken into next level. The mobile can be a saviour to the people during any emergency. A mobile device sometimes provided a comforting diversion from the immediate physical environment or the possibility to call for help if required. (Blom & Others 2010). A push of a button can be used to inform about any bad situation being faced to the nearest police station or to ones loved ones. Moreover CCTV is tool of surveillance but can be intrusive in nature. It can stalk into someone’s person space. As Jacob said there must be a clear demarcation between public and private space. But privacy advocates and some citizens do not like the idea that their every move is being monitored and moreover, some studies suggest that CCTV does not in fact have an impact on levels of crime and violence (Safe City Index 2015). Tokyo and Osaka are victims of cyber attack every 30 seconds. Citizens must be well updated to counter such attacks, as the ignorance can lead to loss of property. When the Indian government is pushing towards going digital by launching programmes like ‘Digital India’, it must also at the same time built a robust cyber network. Recently we heard about the Russians hacking into the American Polls, and then there is Mr. Edward Snowden, who explains different ways by which a hacker may creep into ones personal space using the digital devices. He explains how one can get access to the web cam on your laptop and monitor you; it is really scary to learn about it. The hackers and other online attackers will try to remain one step ahead of us, but at the same time we must able to identify them and contain them, by building our own defense on the cyber front.
Health security
The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, the first of the 21st century, proved how very quickly a new virus can spread to every corner of the globe. It showed how, with all eyes focused on H5N1 in Asia, something bubbling up on the other side of the world can be the event that actually explodes and the current epidemic of Ebola virus disease is an important wake-up call for all countries. The world urgently needs to improve its preparedness for outbreaks of emerging and epidemic-prone diseases (WHO). Apart from disease, there is the ‘slow poison’ like Air-pollution which looms over our head and which kills people silently. It has also been found many terror groups, instead to using conventional weapons and bombs, are now turning towards Bio-weapons. Biological weapon, also called germ weapon, any of a number of disease-producing agents—such as bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, fungi, toxins, or other biological agents—that may be utilized as weapons against humans, animals, or plants (Britannica Encyclopedia). These are generally used as weapons of mass destruction. Building a resilient environment towards Bio-weapons shall include a rapid response plan.

Infrastructure Safety
In April 2015, Nepal was hit by an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 and the aftermath was devastating. The total of houses destroyed stood at 605,254 and a further 288,255 were partially destroyed. Infrastructure facilities performed poorly during the earthquakes as communication towers failed and hydroelectric power stations were severely damaged. It is common practice in Nepal to have mobile phone towers mounted on buildings and often those buildings are not designed for the additional loads coming from the tower. During the earthquakes many such towers went out of service (NEERR). Nepal is not alone, most of times we see causalities due to failure in the Build structure. The City Authority need to look into the fact, that the building permission will only be granted once the safety measures are met. Retrofitting may be necessary in some cases. In India, the North-east part falls in the Zone V of earthquake prone area and also we see people being aware of this fact, the result is that people do not compromise of the structural stability of the house which is in fact a good sign. One in every five buildings in Tokyo was built before 1981, making them comparatively more vulnerable to earthquakes and therefore the city’s vision for 2020 includes creating community-level disaster management teams and retrofitting buildings to withstand earthquakes. Infrastructure not only includes buildings but also, the transport system, the water and electricity network, sanitation services. The rapid expansion of urban populations poses big challenges for municipal authorities in developing countries (SCI, 2015). To ensure safety in this sector needs both government and the people to work together. Architects, Engineers, Planners should come together to build a robust Infrastructure.

While the safety and security issue consist of wide range of scope from personal to national level, ever aspect is inter-related and a comprehensive framework needs to be built. In the end we must strive to protect the lives of the people. The protection may be required against another human being or a natural disaster. And as, Jodi Rell says, “At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security”, and we shall make every effort to achieve that.                           

THE SAFE CITIES INDEX 2015 (SCI, 2015): Assessing urban security in the digital age- A report by The Economist Intelligence Unit

2015 Nepal Earthquake Event Recap Report (NEERR) , Aon Benfield Analytics | Impact Forecasting

Environment & Us

 am a 28 year old guy who is still in the university and I am already feeling too old, maybe because after you reach 30 you are into a different league. But the fact is I am actually too fresh and young if i consider the age of this planet. In fact our entire human race is very new and so new that if we consider the age of this planet to be 24 hours, then our race is here for just 6 seconds. Today we are constantly hearing about issues like global warming, species extinctions, pollution, carbon footprint and so many other things, I wonder in just that “Six seconds” we almost changed the face of this planet. We are now on the verge of creating an alien planet for ourselves. Long before our existence in this planet, it took many processes and countless evolutions to reach this stage. A lot of things have come in place ever since we humans have come in the scene.
Few years back I attended few classes of a Spiritual organisation- “Brahma Kumaris”, they had is concept of the earth cycle and I was told that the present time is of Transformation, Transformation of Bad into Good, Wrong into Right, Evil into God. In Hinduism the present period is termed as ‘Kali-yuga’ , it’s the last stage of the cycle of the creation. It might sound very old age idea, but with the recent series of events we here every day, it quite really seems to be true. The seven sins as spoken in the bible, i.e. Pride, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony and Lust, Sloth and Greed is profoundly seen in this so called, ‘Modern and Civilized world’. These acts of ours have affected our relationship with humans and also with nature. The materialistic world we are living in has encouraged us to be more and more greedy. We are always in a mood of asking more. And everything we consume or create is not something that has to do with the outer space but the original source is our earth—so the more we consume, the more we are generating pressure to this planet. And when I say consume, I meant, from consuming  petrol to water, rice to chocolate, gadgets to pen and everything around us. “Hindu mythology constantly refers to a four-fold division of the world- the world of elements (sky, earth, wind, water and fire), plants, animals and humans.”  (Pattanaik, 2015). We must able to understand here that out of these four, “Humans are dramatically different. In us senses, emotions and intelligence are highly developed. But what makes us unique is our imagination.”(Pattanaik, 2015). Now here we must understand that with this special ability that we humans possess, we have a very important role to play. Our actions and decisions therefore matters the most. We can either make this place beautiful or can let it die.
The one thing we all are very proud of is “we became civilized”, now what exactly is being civilized? Many a times we justify our deeds stating we are the beings of the 21st century, we have become modern, our technologies have developed and we have come a long way. But what is the point of having such a civilization which doesn’t respect its home.   The concept of economics, politics, social, culture, religions are created by us and this is probably because we have that special quality of Imagination and by which we have able to generate such concepts. Today we are messed up with so many issues of these concepts that we had forgotten where we came from and how we evolved, what this environment meant for us. The world politics is hard to understand, with different countries having its own priorities and each one of them trying to generate a bold economy, trying to generate wealth and in this process, sometimes leaders tend to take decisions which is not a favourable for the environment. One example is of Oil. The story of Oil is important for us to understand because, it is a subject due to which we have seen many fold, leading to war and peace, stable and unstable state of a country, the world politics is much influence by this. Due to fact that there is instability in OPEC countries, the production of oil could not regulated well. The countries like United States started exploring new ways to dig out oil and sell them at lower price. In this race of oil production and economy, the end victim is our planet. 
Although it has to noted here that some concepts like our culture at times helped the nature to sustain and make people aware of the role our nature and environment has played and so it at times become important for us to save our culture and heritage.
The modern warfare has changed, ever since the Second World War, although we have seen many wars amongst nations, we have fortunately avoided large scale wars. This might sound better in paper but in reality, there are numerous wars already been fought every day. Be it in Israel, Afghanistan, Syria or even India, there is a regular tension that is being prevailing since long. And in this process of trying to defend one’s motherland, we end up spending huge amount of money and resources on the Military. If we consider India, our nation is surrounded by sets of hostile nations and is in constant pressure from the foreign land, so we just cannot stop our defence procurements as they may be necessary for safeguarding the nation. But the question here is, Can we not have that understanding among nations, among people, among leaders to avoid such situations and agree upon Non-Violence? “The struggle for equitable development and the war against poverty are as important as our campaign against terrorism and our collective search for security. At a time when the external stimulus has motivated us to unite against terrorism and for security, let us summon an equally stronger inner resolve for development and poverty alleviation. They are just as crucial for a global order at peace with itself” These were the words of India’s former prime-minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his speech at the United Nations, General Assembly in 2001. Is not time to think about hunger and about people dying out of it?  The growing difference between the rich and the poor is also a result of our political decisions, which the world leaders took at times. The people living under poverty are in a greater risk from the environmental problems that we are creating, as they have access to less resources and options.
“That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” This was what Neil Armstrong said while making that landing on Moon. In our context to save this environment, that one small step could be, just switching of the lights, being vegetarian, buying local foods, walking and of course making the best use of the free source of energy over our head—The Sun. Using solar energy, wind energy, the tidal force all can be our saviour. The situation is changing and multi-lateral platforms have yielded better understanding among the nations. But more such collective actions have to be taken from an individual level to an international level. And that we must get it clear that, we are running out of time.

1.      Pattanaik, D. (2015), My Gita, 55-56
2.      Agarwal, N. (2014), India’s Greatest Speeches, 139-142

3.      Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal Retrieved from

Monday, November 12, 2012


“Music in the building will follow by the act of nature which will turn the building alive.” This was what was my first thought about “Musitecture” was. (The term I would like to use for Music + Architecture). How can we make a building sing? Dose the music theories will also be applicable in the making of music in the building and if so how? We all know the basic similarities between theories of music and architecture, like rhythms, harmony, contrast etc. Music is a sound which soothes our ears and mind, we all know if ears is to music then eyes is to architecture. But can we it also make it ears is to architecture? We have of course done it, if not us then our ancestors have defiantly so as result of which we have for example Hawa Mahal, and even in the modern times we have architects and designers who are trying to explore the same. But in the dust of various factors which become a hurdle for the designer to design a green building the same has also been the case with Musitecture. Every building has a tune of its own. We love a hear some musicians while some not, the reason lies behind the composition layers which include factors like scales, timing, organizing etc.

If we happen to compare between these two subjects then maybe the columns will represent rhythm or the scales, its depends on how the architects wants to showcase the elements. This representation of the music has to be felt from inside and not from the ears. So we may conclude music along with architecture can result in two forms one which is directly related to our hearing sense and the other by the visionary which in turn will induce a music in our mind. Few of the questions that may rise in our mind are like: We are already surrounded with so many sounds or call it noise, so the point in creating a space that also creates sound? The answer lies in the question itself. We are not producing sound but music. And by definition music is something which soothes the ears. But how can we grantee it? Rock is a type of music but I never get soothed when I hear them? Now this is a tricky one. Just like a single elevation maybe admired by many it is not necessary the same admiration will come from all, it varies from person to person. But a structure like the Taj Mahal, where almost all or say 98% people will admire its beauty we can call it a success. Same is the case here, we are striving for a situation where almost all the people will able to sense the music, feel it, feel good about it and get a sense of relaxation. By now another question that one can have is, we can do it by listening to a music CD why the building? So here the question is true in many cases but let us imagine an office. The modern office works for about 9 hrs in a day, in between which the employees gets a break for about 1hour. A person after having his lunch if he listens to the mp3 player, he/she may get relaxed or feel better but can’t we have a space where the stress is kept to a minimum due to a specific kind of design may be Musitecture can. The least developed sense of our sensory organ is hearing and the most developed is the vision. A person can also feel stimulation by the other sense like vision or touch, but the only way to induce a stimulation while working or doing something else is by hearing.(The statement is open for debate). It also depends on what activity the user is doing. But to really feel the music one must devote his mind to the source and to the notes. In doing all these one of the major problem which we have to face is the noise factor. The noise is just opposite to music. It’s the sound that we don’t like to hear or something that induce a negative stimulation. We many a times get angry upon our neighbors or to the street below our house, the reason are due to the unwanted sound we are hearing. Many a times we use trees and heavy plantation on cut the noise, which is also a better option regarding the environment. 

The reason we are discussing this is, we are trying to find a solution to this via Musitecture. It will be discussed later like how we can overcome the noise disturbance using various techniques. Many ancient medications have used music an instrument to cure diseases. Many stress relief techniques also use music to help the people. Architecture has been able to use various elements from other subject to create a harmonious space, for example lights from electronics, texture from material engineering and many other. Including music may or may not make a big difference in the current stream that will of course be judge at the end of this project. One of the things that we have to keep in mind is the excessive use of materials that is not available in abundance just for the sake of acoustic enhancement purpose or else it will cause for an environment problem. Rise in nano-technology may well cut the cost and risk of using various materials but that is still a long way to go. to be continued...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy journey!

Happy journey!

Now that, two months had passed and I was here in a new place
With many a new face;
I didn’t recognize her yet…as we were strangers on the same net;
Soon came the time for the home to go into winter cave;
Started the journey with my neighbors,
I saw her… I saw her bright eyes, down with something,
that made me raring to go on that thing;
We were on the halfway to home and the dark night devoured our train,
I saw a drop of tears on her eyes, like a diamond it shined
At the little light we had.
Confused with what to do, I thought of cooling her down with some words.
She gave smile that was just for a name
Her heart was still crying deep.
This was the time she told her anecdote;
I sketched everything in my mind
It was the painful lines she narrated…About her love.
Unsure of when she could meet him the point ate her…
Consolation was all I had to offer along with a note which says…
“Everything happens for your own good…”

Now I was in my cave and days later came a call
A smile woke me up….she smiled and said...”I met him”.
Happy was me to know the story…
Time now started passing like wave at puri.
And we soon became good friends…
I was poor in chemistry always got a thirty
But our bond got stronger better then a ninety.
It was pure and tender
It reminds me of my early stations when I was a kid.
We shared our joys, our sorrows and our little moments of life.
We didn’t climbed tree but climbed its feel.
One night she called and I had to console her again
She broke up.
I thought of becoming a perfect support…
Stood by her side as she did when I was in same river of sorrow;

Saying good bye is sore I knew it long before,
But this was more than a painful swell…
I knew the day would come, but didn’t know it would come so quick
Back counted the days and today is the day she is leaving.
Eyes didn’t hear my head and it showed its red.
The morning light wrote the note of her flight.
Forty-five minutes passed like a bullet
Standing there I could see her face the little drop of tears hanged by my lids…
For the first time I felt like saying her I love you honey;
But All I could say her than was “happy journey”….

Her innocent smile wakes me up every morning;
Dreams whitewashed me she was all over now
Felt like touching her when my eyes open into the sunlight,
Time for me to go the drafting table
Even the half an hour break reminds me of her
I saw her coming to me and saying...”let’s have some food I am hungry”
It was not she but me…
She paid for me as I had empty pot on my pocket!
Almost half a year have passed now…
And am still on my dreams;
And every morning I woke up to the sunlight
Days passed on and I counted years
Two, three, four…..and still counting…
Until the day today coz today I was not sure whether I was really dreaming
She was standing …..
….Standing in front of me when my eyes open at 10
With a cup of coffee and whispering in my ears, “good morning”!
My eyes was wide open, unable to believe what it saw
My mom made an entry…
I learned she was here since dawn;
Sitting beside me waiting for me unbolt my eyes
I even forgot to make an apologize for the wait she had to make...
I smiled and looked into her eyes the sparkle was still there
She had grown up now and so was me
How could I tell you dear how much I missed you all this year’s…
Each day I starred at your print,
Hoping you would come out of the ink…
And this time she said what I thought of saying to her when
I had said happy journey!
Days and years could make no difference...
And just two months and we shall bond our self stronger…
Wish me happy journey coz this is really a long journey...
…to be traveled by me!