“The history of architecture is the history of the struggle for light.” – Le Corbusier (celebrated architect)
Nowhere is this struggle more evident than in New Delhi, where even in the most elite South Delhi addresses like Green Park, Hauz Khas, Panchsheel Park and Greater Kailash, one finds builder floor row houses sandwiched between each other. The plots are fairly large but the long rectangular shapes with only narrow open sides along the road create problems of lighting and ventilation. The central portion of a typical row house becomes a dark and dingy space that requires artificial lighting throughout the day. This is an unnatural and undesirable phenomenon best left for the casinos in Vegas, not your home.
While this artificially lit and poorly ventilated central area may be the unfortunate norm, it does not have to be the rule. However, most commercial builders in South Delhi design only considering the total consumption of the permissible FAR/FSI and the maximum achievable built-up area. When the focus shifts from intelligent floor plans to simply consume FAR, the end result is often dull unimaginative home designs with poor layouts. As the wise men say, always choose quality over quantity.
Smart planning techniques can achieve both full FAR and create spaces with adequate light and ventilation. However, in common practice, ventilation cut-outs are of the bare minimum sizes as per the building norms and these are unsuitable for servicing liveable spaces like living/dining rooms and bedrooms. Additionally, when talking about multi-storey buildings, the lower floors receive very little natural light and ventilation when the cut-outs are small. Not only is this an aesthetically lacking approach, it also negatively impacts the occupants’ physical and mental health. Another very important factor to consider is that while artificial light and mechanical ventilators are substitutes for natural light and ventilation they add considerably to your energy consumption if used throughout the day on a daily basis.
A good floor plan for a Delhi home would have cut-outs that let in natural light and ventilation to all parts of the house. These create well-lit spaces even in the central portion of your plot that automatically makes the area look larger and more inviting. Larger cut-outs in the center of the plot also encourage cross-ventilation and vastly improve the quality of the space. Even a 250 sqft room will have poor indoor air quality and look shabby when it only has one 4ftX4ft window opening. Creating large central cut-outs affords one the luxury of providing a second window that makes the room light and airy.
The purchase of a home is a big decision and making the right choice for you and your family is crucial. So if you are looking to invest in a builder floor home in the NCR region, think beyond just the numbers and consider these aspects of well-being provided by a home with enough natural light and ventilation. Think of what happens to a healthy plant left indoors without sun and wind for too long and make sure you don’t wilt away and share its fate in your new home.