India's Innovative Green City Ignores Timeless Design Lessons

Rajarhat's Rabi Rashmi Abasan (Solar Housing Complex) is being hailed as a trend-setter for India's efforts to increase its use of renewable energy. But the urban design of the new city rising on the edge of Kolkata ignores timeless lessons.
December 20, 2013, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As India strives to increase its use of renewable energy, Rabi Rashmi Abasan's solar prowess is a shining example of Rajarhat's green ambitions. "'This housing dazzles as a milestone and a trend-setter,” says S P Gon Chaudhuri, former managing director of the West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation and winner of the international Green Oscar award in 2003 for spearheading solar projects on the remote Bay of Bengal islands. 'We rate the success of such a project by its carbon neutrality. We indeed can fight global warming with such buildings.'”

"But while the authorities tom-tom Rajarhat as a city of the future, a closer look reveals flaws in its design that could cancel out much of its green appeal," writes Sujoy Dhar. Building designs ignore local lessons for passive cooling and Rajarhat's "gated-community design" encourages auto usage at the expense of street life and safety. 

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Published on Thursday, December 19, 2013 in Next City
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