Law shift for modern city

Calcutta needs a complete “chemical change” in its urban bylaws to  realise its growth potential and transform itself into “a modern and  kicking” city, felt Hafeez Contractor.

The architect from Mumbai was in town last week to speak at a seminar on  ‘Contemporary architecture and built development in cities’, organised  by Jadavpur University’s architecture department.

 From FAR (floor area ratio) and FSI (floor space index) to parking,  height and fire laws, there’s a pressing case for a radical re-look,  according to the architect, who has designed the sparkling 70-storeyed  twin towers in Tardeo — India’s answer to KL's Petronas Towers.

“And formulation of new laws should be delegated to progressive experts  from the private sector so that solutions are rooted in reality,” he  emphasised.

Pointing out that growth in Calcutta hasn’t kept pace with its  population, Contractor prescribed continuous urban renewal and  retrofitting heritage buildings alongside new-age development, besides  addressing the vexatious issue of illegal residents and unregulated  growth. “This city has some of the finest classical buildings and you  must preserve your heirlooms,” he said.

With the downtown area choked by lack of road space and haphazard  construction, Rajarhat could soon become the face of the new Calcutta,  he stressed. “The potential there is huge and the formatting more  structured,” said the architect who is designing DLF's big-ticket  IT-retail combo in New Town.

Doing a slide presentation of some of his acclaimed projects like the  Nestle headquarters in Gurgaon and the IIT Mumbai complex in Powai, he  advised the aspiring architects “never to say no” to the client. “Be it  classical, minimalist or contemporary — I design whatever the client  wants, of course, after explaining my point of view,” offered one of  modern India's most successful architects.