How thoughtful architecture can help air pollution woes of Bengaluru


By Kapil Kajal
While construction is one of the major contributors to Bengaluru’s increasing air pollution, studies and architects have highlighted that planned architecture of the city, buildings and roads can improve the quality of air in the city. 

Referring to the changes in the city’s architecture, Rakhee Shetty, Principal Architect with the Ishaan Bull Design Studio, Bengaluru, mentioned that the skyline of the city has drastically changed. She emphasised that architects need to consider sustainability in the preliminary stage of designing rather than in hindsight. One needs to be mindful of the city’s ecosystem, respect it and make the most of it while retaining its essence, she added. 

The construction sector is one of the major sectors responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases and mindful architectural design can play a significant role in keeping a check on this, she stated.   

A sustainable project is designed, built, renovated, operated or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner with improved indoor air quality, according to a study published in the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute journal.

Recycling potential and ease of demolition should be considered during the design phases because it enhances the sustainability of the construction industry and waste means new resources for new constructions as in most of the cases, making products by recycling demolition wastes creates less air pollution, it added.

The design of a low energy-consuming house includes the choices of materials and construction methods that are important to reduce the energy consumption of a building through reduced solar heat gain or loss, the journal added.

A well-designed building can reduce the amount of heat lost through the building envelope by at least half and the pollution from the electricity generation will be less, it mentioned. 

Plants can help

In his article on LinkedIn’s news aggregation platform, Waterson Lam, Founding Partner at in50 Design, a Beijing-based building design company, stated that natural ventilation has become an important strategy in building designs as it can be used to supply outside air, reduce odours and pollutants, and remove heat from spaces, people and mass. 

He added that specifying paint and sealants that have next to zero Volatile Organic Compound content can reduce the pollutants for our indoor air quality of the environments that we design and build. 

The choice of material used to make a building can also reduce demands on export with heavy reliance on oil and gas used to transport building materials in ships and trucks across oceans and millions of kilometres of highways, he added. 

He also highlighted that plants can be used to reduce indoor pollutants. Arrowhead vine removes chemical vapours, Boston fern removes air pollutants, English ivy removes formaldehyde, and aloe vera removes chemical vapours, he added. 

Way forward

“We need to push the boundaries of contemporary architecture and reimagine the way we approach design in a sustainable direction thus making it energy efficient and It would include rediscovering traditional ideas and incorporating them in the contemporary setup,” stated Shetty. 

Being blessed with good weather all through the year is reason enough to harvest energy from the sun, so optimum use of daylight increases the performance of the building and lowers the buildings artificial energy dependence and adequate ventilation, maintaining a high window-to-wall ratio in the north and east facade will further add to the building’s energy efficiency, Shetty added. 

Natural plasters regulate the temperature and humidity of the immediate ecology and thereby have a positive impact on air quality, she added.

She explained that while working on the geometry of the facade, working with solid and void, creating shade where needed, incorporating courtyards and using plants in green walls are valuable steps towards reducing the carbon footprint of the structure. 

“Conscientious architecture, building with an emotion, rather than with just concrete, will go a long way in rediscovering the beauty of our city,” she commented.


(Author is Bengaluru – based freelance writer and a member of, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)

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