Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sajja to Terrace & Gavaksha to Grill...

Building homes is a beautiful experience as it gives me pleasure of creating a habitat for the most intelligent specie on earth... Corbusier

And yes you ask any engineer, architect or even a developer who is committed to his job & you will find how true Corbusier is! As it’s not a mere quote it’s a feeling which a creator has to felt from within. And look how the terminology in the home designing has changed from time to time but has the use so?
No is what I feel personally. Now over 20 years associated with making homes of various sizes & for different requirements few things haven’t changed at all. Though the increasing prices as well scarcity of space & the rules have had there impact & for a while we may think a particular aspect of planning is getting absolute or taking a back seat but its a temporary effect. After all from the civilization time the needs of human being towards his residence haven’t changed much.

A home should give you a secure & safe feel with peace as well have a good looks too. Now secure & safe one can make any house by all physical means like durable material, locks, doors etc how one makes oneself at peace & another factor is aesthetic factor of the home i.e. its looks for outsiders. Here the builders as well designers started knowing the importance of making the home more open to nature as that’s one sure way to have peace for the residents of the home & then we need a place from where we can be absolutely in tune with nature without being feel unsafe & there the term "Sajja" came in to the picture which now we call as balcony. But actually speaking it’s not exactly a balcony it’s an open space at upper floor adjoining to the main house which is open to sky & from where you can be in actual contact with nature around. More rightly its terrace attached to the room & not top of the building.

In central India where the summers are extreme hot many a times this Sajja's are protected by " Gavaksha" i.e. sort of windows with ornamental "jali" carved in stones mostly. This served two purposes ,one is giving protection from heat waves & another was the view of the sajja was got protected too, so the ladies of the house also can use it without getting watched by passer by traffic or from surroundings. Many of the Havelis or Wadas use to have central chowk open at ground level but then its has its own restrictions as it does provides the view of the sky but not the breeze which you get at Sajja level as well the view of the surrounding. And the classique example of such protected Sajja's is Jaipur's Havamahal! With ornamental red stone jali work protecting every Sajja at multiple levels an effect of most beautiful facade has been created. In northern India such Sajja's are created at every level so from any floor you can have your view as well breeze. Many Havelies proudly still carry the Sajjas & very beautiful Jalis protecting them at proper places. Many a times an open window like place is created at outer wall of the room where you can sit adjoining to it & enjoy the view around. In Europe also under the name of Balcony or Verandah such spaces have been created from ancient day’s in house building. Many a times such places have been beautifully decorated by plantation creepers like “bogunvllias" giving the whole outline a colorful effect. Rather in many families it’s a tradition to have their morning breakfast as well dinner at such places & get relaxed by being in tune with nature.

In later days of FSI & multistoried building the term Balcony was introduced which was a very similar in concept of Sajja but a wrong implementation in size at many places it was just 4' wide giving you no room to move as well restricted view of surrounding. Because of shortage of space got converted in to room only. Again the need for having your own piece of open sky started bothering designers & the term of Attached terrace come in to the picture. Many a must be thinking its another of developers earning way but what I feel is there is a place which should be in proportion with the size of your home & which should be open to sky or surrounding as that’s the place where your are free from the concept of getting confined by the walls & its this openness which makes your mind also open for the nature. Unfortunately I have seen such terraces getting covered or enclosed in the weirdest ways not only defeating the concept of the same but spoiling the esthetic view of the entire building. People use tins sheets or fiber sheets or use MS grills & things like that under the name of security & try to enclose this also. I am not against safety of the occupants but ultimately safety is in our mind, there are ways to get it in practicality is what we need to understand.

Another important aspect is with increasing concretization around we are forgetting that we are not the only specie which need shelter & protected habitat but there are many around whom we are displacing for our homes! If you have noticed in Pune city or any growing town earlier we were able to see lots of birds like Bhardwaj, Common Sparrows, Bubul, Mainas & even Butterflies but now we hardly se any of these birds. Simple reason is they just don’t have any places left where they to can rest for a while & get some food naturally available & water. They can make their nests on brick walls or concrete slabs or glazing we have for our facades! Here such sajjas ie terraces can provide them a good place to have there habitat for water & food by a little of our attention & support. This can be our support to biodiversity & just a small provision for birds to have water & food with few planters & see the difference! I have experienced it at my own small piece of terrace adjoining to my work cabin. I stared keeping just water bowls & at each after noon there is like get together of many birds for bathing & drinking water & just to watch it is so relaxing for me & each day some new guest comes in form of a bird making the get together more colorful.
It’s a pain to watch the horrible grill structure & enclosing of the adjoining terraces people do in the name of safety with various types of fabrication.!
Frds, make some time out from your busy schedule & spent few minitues in the place called " Sajja" if you are lucky enough to have one & see the change those few minitues brings in your life! We need to understand the importance of such spaces in & around our home & should try to use them for the purpose for what they have been created. After all what’s the use of the safety & luxury if we are not going to be at peace in a place where we reside!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo_power Committee, Credai, Pune

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