Kerala NRI home sector in grip of ‘heri-tech’

DUBAI — A new trend in home architecture that blends heritage and hitech is emerging in Kerala, the south Indian state that boasts one of the highest per capita spendings in residential construction thanks to its strong and affluent NRI base.

By Isaac John

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Published: Sun 5 Dec 2004, 11:23 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:23 PM

According to a new survey, every year more than Rs200 billion is spent in Kerala’s booming residential building sector. “While NRIs account for more than 50 per cent of this, they are not getting value for money spent in the construction sector,” said Koshy K. Alex, Chairman of the Indian Institute of Architects.

Mr Alex, who is on a visit to the UAE with Zeril S. Jose, a partner in Vastushilpalaya Consultancy, said while the fusion of heritage and hitech — Heri-Tech — is a welcome trend, the lavish spending habit of Keralites in the home sector is deplorable. “While most NRIs invest a bulk of their hard-earned savings on building dream homes that are more than sufficient for their needs, a large part of such investments often goes as sheer waste because of improper planning and remote supervision,” he said.

According to a study, nearly 20 per cent of the amount an average NRI spends on home construction goes as wasteful expenditure. “This phenomenal waste (Rs20 billion) occurs fundamentally due to improper planning. Such losses, if averted, and productively utilised, could contribute substantially to the economical growth of Kerala,” said Mr Alex, who also heads a leading architectural firm — Vastushilpalaya Consultancy Pvt Ltd.

“Dream homes are built not according to the real needs of the user but on the whims of the designer. Efficiency in spatial planning is the key to economy, while close interaction between the client and the architect is the key to efficient planning,” said Mr Alex, who is here to study the emerging trends in building materials and technology.

He feels that periodic visits to the Gulf countries by architects serving the NRI clientele will go a long way in solving this issue. “The initial estimate normally jumps beyond acceptable limits by the indiscriminate use of finishing materials, which are not relevant to the context or the customer’s purse. At the same time, materials chosen must serve the need for long life and lease maintenance. The judicious selection of materials will control costs while ensuring longevity of home.”

Mr Jose pointed out that people in Kerala now want residential architecture to reflect their cultural heritage. “At the same time, they want to incorporate all modern amenities into the design to cater to fast changing needs. Hi-tech systems are not a science fiction anymore. Nor is it happening in New York or Tokyo. This fusion of heritage and hi-tech — Heri-Tech — is the order of the day in Kerala.”

The Trivandrum-based Vastushilpalaya Consultancy offers comprehensive services — from conceptualisation to completion of all types of building projects. Several prestigious projects undertaken by the firm include Lakshmi Bai National College of Physical Education, Trivandrum, Revenue Tower, Adoor, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, and School of Indian Legal Thought, Kottayam.

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