Panel discussion on plumbing

Building For The Future: Designing Futureproof Plumbing System

| Washrooms & Beyond


Building for the Future: Designing futureproof plumbing system

The panellists discuss the future readiness of the plumbing system and what more needs to be done to make the system futureproof.

The vision of designing futureproof plumbing systems primarily deals with the attitude of looking at services that has to undergo a transformation. Plumbing systems must not be perceived as something that is plugged in but something that is intrinsic similar to that of a human body. We as humans are technologically driven in todays’ world that the phrase ‘futureproof plumbing system’ reminds us about technology. The translation of technology is where the transformation really lies.

Dr. Venkata Rangarao Vemuri, Structural Engineer, SL Structural Consortium opines, “Whether it is the process of plumbing designs or structural designs, they have evolved overtime in terms of accumulated experience. Plumbing practices are well-set in terms of its’ own identity. Today, I feel there is a great need not in terms of plumbing designs because they involve a great amount of standardization but the real problem lies in the interface between structural engineers and consultants which can bring enormous changes in the built environment.

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Relevance of futureproofing plumbing designs

Scanning an entire plumbing system after being installed can make the job a lot easier. Opining to that, Ms Supraja Rao, Principal and Creative Head, Design House says, “When it comes to renovation, the most difficult thing is the bathroom bit of it. The need to renovate first in such spaces is mainly because of plumbing issues. The problem arises in finding where the leakage is happening and which particular part of the system requires repair.”

Mr G. Shankar Narayan, Principal Architect, Shankar Narayan Architects looking at a bigger picture opines, “There is nothing in life that we can futureproof because people and their lifestyles constantly keep changing from time to time. Technology has been changing for hundreds of years and water is one specific element that we as humans are misusing. What we have to think about for the futureproof plumbing system has to be beyond water. Futureproof plumbing system to me is about being sensitive to water usage and how it is not drawn out as waste.”

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Mr. Dhurgai Kumaran, Director (Studio), FHD Group adds, “As architects, we call plumbing systems as services because we see it as a subservient, which automatically becomes an issue regarding the way we look at it. There are a lot of changes in terms of efficiency and technology which will fall under this category of futureproof plumbing systems but these services are in fact the life of architecture and we have to start our designs from these services rather than just treating it as a subservient of the design. The core of our designs must begin with services and that is how I see designing futureproof plumbing systems.”

What can be expected from futureproof plumbing systems?

Mr V. Giridhar Rao, Principal Consultant, Rallies Engineering Consultants talks about what we can expect in terms of futureproof plumbing systems, and says, “Plumbing as a subject or an industry is not given the importance it requires. There have been a lot of transformations taking place in the practice over the past few years. As technology developed, factors like designs and consultancy took a step forward. Different building typologies like hospitals, hotels, residential, and institutional have different approaches towards plumbing systems, which can become a bit challenging but one common factor is that they are all evolving from time to time.”

He further adds, “There are very good design engineers all over the world but there has been a decline in the number of people entering this practice. The implementation process of plumbing systems in a building is what matters the most.”

Mr Dhurgai Kumaran adds, “All services in this industry, whether plumbing, electrical, or even networking all act together as an ecosystem which currently do not support each other entirely or are not integrated very well. We as architects or designers never take the opportunity to involve a plumber in the design discussions which can form an integral part of the design based on their design contributions.

Sensitivity to design and functional aspects of design are core factors that must be considered while designing plumbing systems. Ms Supraja Rao opines to that, “I’d like to go back a few steps to where we are heading as a society. I think we are at that point where everything is just a number game. Are we listening to our own voices or any message from nature?”

Mr Samrendra M Ramachandra, Principal Architect, Samar Ramachandra Associates concludes by saying, “We promise that we as architects will build a better tomorrow. If the consultants come in as people who engineer the building but do not have the sensitivity to understand our aspirations then we become polarized. Both the individuals become people with different intents. We will come together in order to build strength at the concept level. Architecture is collaborative in spirit and we must be able to educate ourselves at the concept level or the design level. If we have access to technology then how is it applicable to us?”

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