Case for pavements and fewer cars

Case for pavements and fewer cars

Green is the Colour, an installation by Total Environment at St Mark’s Circle.

The husband-wife team of Shibanee and Kamal Sagar are synonymous with projects that blend the outdoors and the indoors. They head Total Environment, a Bengaluru-based building and architecture firm that’s known as for its signature homes and quirky project names — everything inside is designed to blend in with and highlight everything outside. 

A part of the ongoing Bengaluru ByDesign festival, Kamal spoke to Rajitha Menon about what can fix Bengaluru’s infrastructural woes.

Shibanee and Kamal Sagar

Your thoughts about Bengaluru’s design heritage...

My views on architecture are different. I don’t see how British architecture fits in and have not seen anything of real architectural significance in those buildings. People have this tendency to be protective of old heritage architecture — which is good when the architecture is relevant and if it has contributed to the world of architecture — but one needs to question these things.

What’s invaluable about Bengaluru’s design and architecture and how can we protect it?

There are a few pieces of really great architecture in Bengaluru, like IIM Bangalore by Doshi, and some beautiful individual homes — these need to be appreciated. More than some of the larger, well-known old buildings, there are several smaller and lesser known, but very beautiful buildings and structures that need to be protected. One way to protect them would be to have them adopted by private sector companies.

How can footpaths in the city be revamped?

They just need to protect from invasion by utility lines and other disruptions. We cannot afford to compromise on the width of these footpaths.

What is Bengaluru lacking when it comes to public spaces?

The city lacks walkable streets — with the beautiful weather, it’s really sad that we can’t walk outside. It has very few parks; we need more green spaces like Cubbon Park and Lalbagh. There are several lakes all over the city and if we could prevent sewage from flowing into them, they could be beautiful recreational spaces for everyone.

Possible solutions for the city’s traffic problem?

We must introduce the idea of a very expensive licence for owning a car, like in Singapore, and promote the ideas of mobility on demand and of fractional ownership of cars.


Could you tell us a little bit about your participation at IDF and Total Environment’s collab at Bengaluru ByDesign?

I spoke about the challenges of city living and about how many of these challenges have simple solutions. I also spoke about the need for mass customisation so that families can get homes that actually work for them, and about embracing nature, intimate scale and sustainable living.

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