The construction market in India is one of the largest in the world. Valued at $609.6 billion in 2021, experts foresee projected CAGR growth rate of more than 6 percent from 2023 to 2026, as per Global Data reports. Along with China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia, India is tipped to remain one of the top five largest construction markets in the world. In fact, only China, India, the US and Indonesia are projected to account for 58.3 percent of expected global growth in construction.
The construction sector in India is expected to gross $1.4 trillion in 2025 as activities in the private and public sectors continue to receive massive boost. The National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency also reveals that the industry currently employs more than 51 million people and makes up 9 percent of India’s GDP. Consisting of industrial construction, residential construction, commercial construction, infrastructural construction, institutional construction, and energy and utilities construction, the market is largely spurred by real estate and infrastructural projects.
Within the construction landscape, there appears to be a design revolution championed by the need to adopt new-age methods and technologies to adapt to lifestyle changes and for sustainability. Whether it’s residential buildings, railway stations, roads, airports, bridges, parks, offices, and even public spaces, the demand for new-age designs has surged significantly, forcing architects to rethink their strategy and dig deeper for more fitting designs.
Post-COVID trends and trajectory
A lack of labour and general disruptions during the pandemic caused a major setback in the construction industry. However, it also influenced new initiatives in the sector. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the shortages in health facilities in India, requiring the construction of hospitals and quarantine facilities within very short timelines. Although short-term, this trend reintroduced the use of pre-fabricated materials and modular construction techniques in mainstream architecture.
Here, a variety of components are pre-assembled at a manufacturing site and then transported to the construction site where they’re then attached to the main structure. This can be pre-engineered buildings or precast construction. Furthermore, there has been greater integration of technology in the construction space, leading to reduced personnel deployment. Areas such as project design, procurement, payment, and real-time construction management are now being handled using technology, such as smartphones and relevant softwares. These save energy and time and offer a world-class experience.
Construction cost has also risen significantly, forcing construction companies and clients to find new and cost-effective ways to deliver projects. Space management, minimalist designs, and projects designed for multiple uses are holding sway across India today to provide as much value as necessary without wasting space, resources, or energy.
Advancing sustainability in construction designs
It is impossible to talk about modern construction designs and not consider the push towards sustainable architecture. The current global situation is one that promotes the use of excess energy, greenhouse emissions, excess water usage, and unsafe material sourcing through mining. As far back as 2016, India was ranked third on the list of top 10 countries for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) with more than 650 green building projects in the country at the time. There is considerable environmental regulation, awareness, and client demand for environmentally-friendly buildings, and developers are rising up to the challenge.
There are several iconic architectural references for green architecture scattered across the country. Today, developers are going green with even smaller housing units and commercial buildings. There is a need to continue to promote the use of more sustainable materials like green thermal insulation, recycled metal, reclaimed wood, bamboo, precast concrete slabs, cork, bamboo, structural insulated panels, as well as engineered wood, etc.
Evolving demands of new-age property buyers
The buyer’s agitation for faster delivery without compromising the quality of the project has also forced developers and architects to rethink their design approaches. Hence, you’ll find new methods like 3D printing (the revolutionary experiment being advocated by major disruptors and tech geeks), light-weight steel frames (which encourages the use of beams, terrace blocks, and wall panels without the need for pillars), and silicon translucent roofs (the experimental approach to roofing which lets natural light in and is soundproof) in residential and commercial projects.
Others are interior drywall application (which makes wall construction cleaner, faster, and easier, while reducing the demand for labour and enhancing the overall quality), cavity wall construction (suitable for hot regions with effective heat insulation, less cooling requirement and reduced construction cost), lift-slab construction (faster construction achieved by in-situ casting at ground level where mediums and levels are mounted and separated in between), and ferrocements (fire, crack and earthquake-resistant technique which involves applying a layer of cement over several layers of ferrous metals like wires, expanded metal mesh, and chicken wire).
There’s also a growing trend in modern public infrastructure designs and management. ENIA Architects is one brand that has been at the forefront of such new-age construction designs in India. Their Augmented Metro project, which focusses on four main pillars of e-mobility, care units for the underprivileged, platforms for cultural events, and creation of art zones, has transformed the built landscape tremendously.
Some companies are already taking a lead, working on innovations like elevated metros in cityscapes, while experimenting on possible enhancements of metro viaducts to be better integrated in local communities. The future of construction is one that focuses on research and innovation for the good of humanity. Such research must cover an extensive array of themes and scales, taking into consideration all aspects of the project.
Energy optimisation, water usage, comfort, functionality, and the need to prevent premature obsolescence in building environments must be paid close attention in the Indian real estate sector. The need to go beyond primordial and mundane ideas and techniques and adopt initiatives that are sustainable is urgent and will determine the future of construction in India.
(By Shival Manchanda, COO & Director, and Atri Joshi, CEO & Director, Enia Architects)