Architect Goonmeet Singh Chauhan just released his ‘book of ideas’ titled Invertonomics: 8 Ideas to Transform India. It documents problem-solving models for some of India’s chronic problems such as social inequity, air pollution, cleanliness, safety for women, traffic, education, and poverty, etc.
The IIT-Kharagpur alumnus, designed the ITO skywalk, Select CityWalk and recently designed the Vanijya Bhawan in Delhi. His upcoming projects include office spaces and SCO developments in the city, and several public and institutional buildings across the country.
Some of these include the Amritsar Railway Station, Guwahati Airport and High Courts and Delhi Cycle Walk - a 200km cyclable road proposed to connect places of cultural prominence and nearly 30 lakes in the city. Excerpts:
What made you venture into writing?
Soon after college, I formed Design Forum International with my classmates. While we were able to transform the individual homes, the areas they were situated at still remain steeped in administrative neglect and social apathy. Getting construction permits meant greasing an unending number of palms. Getting utility connections was an even meaner task.
After paying all this, the streetlights were still insufficient in number to make women feel safe. The chaotic nature of India’s poorly managed cities was something I just couldn't fathom. All this made me wonder how the chronic issues of our country could be solved, and in the book I have captured all these ideas formulated over the last eight years.
What does Invertonomics suggest to solve the problem of air pollution in Delhi?
The proposed solution for poor air quality is the Smart Citizen Card Model or the Pre-paid Pollution SuperCop. While it will help monitor the pollution levels of every vehicle on the road, it will also generate revenue of up to Rs 20,000 crore annually.
The Prepaid Pollution SuperCop enables a 100 per cent pollution-check regime by making it possible to hold drivers accountable for every incidence of non-compliance of vehicular pollution norms. The model also envisages a series of incremental penalties for serial defaulters along with incentives for those who conform in the form of credits to Smart Citizen Cards, corporate discounts and other awards and schemes. This combination of charge and reward could be a game-changer.
Does the book focus on the architectural solutions?
Yes. Here, I have written about one of my successful projects - Select CityWalk in south Delhi intended to create a safe and convenient environment for women. In 2004, it became India’s first mall to offer dedicated nappy-changing stations, and provide for women parking attendants at key entry and exit points for female patrons.
The spaces and corridors remain visually open, movement is unhindered and free-flowing for a larger-than-life impression. Creating safety involves much more than simply responding to and preventing crime and violence. It requires the creation of an enabling environment in which women are able to move about safely.
Tell us about designing Vanijya Bhavan.
Spread in an areas of 4.38 acres, it has been designed according to the architecture of Lutyen’s Delhi, using materials like Dholpur and Agra sandstones. Grand stone columns like the ones in Rashtrapati Bhavan were used to create a grand building.
It is a green building with 4-star GRIHA rating. We have made provisions for physically disadvantaged persons to navigate conveniently, and the requirements for confidentiality and high security have also been addressed. Modern construction technologies of steel structure and post tension slabs will be used to complete construction in a record time of 18 months. This building shall house the offices of the Ministers of Commerce, Secretary’s office and accommodate approximately 1,800 to 2,000 officers. This Mini Convention facility opens on to a refreshment zone which in turn opens on to a ceremonial lawn for delegation recreation.