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E-Pao! Essays - Role of Architects and its Awareness

Role of Architects and its Awareness

By: Ar. Edee *



How many of us are aware of architects doing private practise in Manipur? Are there any architects at all in Manipur to design and assist in planning and construction activities except the ones in govt depts? Why havenít we seen good cost effective designs in Manipur?

Every year a lot of students from Manipur enrol at various universities all over the country to study architecture. If you look at other cities, and even smaller towns in the country, most architects and engineers have their own practise, work in a team with engineers, contractors and consultants. They in turn generate lots of jobs.

Why then are we LAGGING behind?
The reason for all this is the CLIENT and his "mindset". The person who plans to construct or renovate in Imphal unfortunately rely too much on a "boro mistri" and not a civil engineer or an architect. It is alarming to learn that an illiterate mistri who by virtue of working as a labourer over the period of time becomes a "boro or head mistri" and starts on his own. For instance there are no engineers consulted on the amount of steel, reinforcements to be used, the type of footing, thickness of slab and other engineering factors.

To any professional or tradesperson in any city this kind of practise is quite alarming. The entire northeast falls in the seismic zone V that is very prone to earthquake, therefore by rule the structure in these areas are to have stringent quality control and earthquake resistant bldgs.

Take for instance any construction site in and around Imphal, irrespective of site topography, soil, is managed by a boro mistri who starts by digging and erecting 30cmx30cm columns and beams at a grid of 4mx4m or any convenient to him, later brick work and unnecessary chajjas (projections) and lintels. The fault is not with architects and engineers as I had mentioned earlier, but with the client itself. They shy away from giving professional fees to the architects and engineers. They certainly will run after an architect for design and advice but at the time of fees for the input the architect puts in "they reward them with a customary chak ama chasi", failing to realise that this income is the bread and butter for the professional.

I am sure we will stop working and go on with strike and bandhs if the govt stops paying salaries. When there is no reward in terms of fees, architects or engineers wonít bother to put in efforts or any professional for that matter, unless one opts to do social service. As a result they rely on a mistriís advice and this trend continues. The result is "wastage of lot of hard earned money on unnecessary construction and demolition and labour charges for the same charged exorbitantly, as there is no one to verify the quantities".

R.C.C is a technology relatively new and in its infancy in Manipur. People perhaps take it lightly because of lack of awareness and so far there has not been major incidents of R.C.C structure collapsing resulting in loss of life and property, but beware the damages for unplanned and ill-designed constructions are very heavy. They can be in terms of leakage, which will result in corrosion of steel, reducing the life span of structures and structural frame, (if your bones are brittle and have problems with your spine cord you wont be able to stand) sinking of footing, honey combing in concrete, cold joints, cracks in wall, sudden tightening of doors and windows.

To become a graduate architect one puts in 5 years of hard work, as much as an MBBS puts in or for that matter a civil engineer who puts in 4 years of work. There is lack of awareness among the people, that paying professional fees to architects, which could be a lumpsum, amount or a certain percent of the project cost normally (3%), would highly be cost effective, aesthetically appealing and well designed in terms of layout and ventilation. They can even see replicas or drawings of the conceptualised project beforehand with cost estimate, finishes and colours and textures and a brief time frame, rather than breaking it latter and/or compromising, resulting in wastage of time and money.

Architects normally see through to the end of the project and not just provide drawings as many would think. They are aware of the technology and the market rates of items and standard and quality of work. They can find faults (shortcuts), which mistriís and contractors often make. So in a nutshell architects, conceptualise, execute and manage the project till the end and coordinates with all related and reports to the client.

In spite of all odds, people who plan to construct in Imphal have tremendous spending power and usually spend much more than required due to the above reasons. But all this will change if one makes up their mind to hire professionals and award them for their service and time. It will surely generate more jobs, encourage organised team of contractors, which will bring about professionalism and competition, building standards and byelaws, new materials and finishes, machinery and technology.

One this trend starts, the municipality can check and approve drawings according to byelaws, make amendments if necessary and charge a fee as it is in other cities, this will generate some income for the sick corporation. This will work because construction can never stop and it is bound to increase.

So if you are planning to construct consult a professional, IT WILL BENEFIT AND SATISFY YOU, the professional and his staff and most importantly it means creating jobs for usÖÖ.




Ar. Edee - a Pseudonym wrote this article.
This Manipuri Architect will be pleased to offer advice to prospective home buyers, the checklist before deciding to invest
The writer can be contacted at edee_s@rediffmail.com

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