Sustainability as a Way of Thought

Painstaking efforts are undertaken at DFI to be rigorous and comprehensive in their designs. They do this by focusing on continual learning and incorporating lessons from the best industry practices from around the globe. Anand further adds, “We try and remain true to the context, putting ourselves in the shoes of the end-user and then deliver designs that are responsive, functional, contextual and that blend-in with the socio-cultural and the physical context, delivering built environments that have a positive impact on the inhabitants.”

At DFI, ‘sustainability in design’ is more like a way of thought rather than an ‘add-on factor’. Much like their other buildings, sustainability is a vital aspect of these infrastructural projects as well. DFI responds to environmental elements such as wind-flow, sunlight and the local landscape through passive design interventions to regulate the building’s indoor climate. This minimises the need for energy-consuming active design interventions such as HVAC systems, and materials with high embodied energy such as doubly insulated glass. “We interweave indoor, semi-indoor and outdoor spaces into all our designs, and shy away from bringing styles of architecture and materials which are alien to the context,” explains Anand. On the pandemic’s impact on DFI’s design process, Anand says, “The pandemic has only reinforced our belief that buildings which are harmonious with nature will be better work, life and leisure spaces.”

Addressing a Neglected Public Realm

Institutional infrastructure across typologies, as a realm, is lying overtly neglected, thus hindering inclusive growth across demographics. “The upgradation of amenities such as administrative, training and residential facilities for police forces, health infrastructure at the local level, educational facilities for children, and institutions for crime prevention, crime detection and detention, such as prisons and judicial infrastructure, have been low on priority,” says Anand Sharma, Founder and Partner at Design Forum International. “Our country needs to move towards formalisation, systematisation and rationalisation of public infrastructure. This can be done by increasingly making investments to remove systemic and infrastructural deficiencies, so that we can deliver to the growing needs of a large, rapidly industrialising nation.” Working in close association with the government of Uttar Pradesh, Design Forum International (DFI) provides in its own unique way, a resounding response to these challenges in the form of context-specific, thoughtfully designed architecture.

DFI is working on two primary domains of public infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh- educational facilities at the primary and secondary level, and training infrastructure for security forces. They are the visionaries behind the lauded new design of the upcoming Sainik School in Gorakhpur, that is aimed at shaping and preparing the youth to become a part of the armed forces. The firm is also helming two police training facilities in Lucknow and Sitapur. The facilities at both these locations aim to augment training, residential, and recreational amenities for police personnel, thereby inching closer to closing in on the gaps in the modernisation of infrastructure for the police forces.