1 November, 2023
Unlock the doors to real estate success
Read time: 5 minutes

In today's edition:

  • In the news: Buying on the metaverse, Mumbai’s boom, and Google’s rebuttal
  • My thoughts on: Projects transforming into communities
  • Q&A: M-sand vs river sand

Handpicked stories from my weekly digest

Here are the 5 stories that you need to be aware of from this past week:

  • Meta homes: Mahindra Lifespace introduced India's first Metaverse home-buying experience with the launch of Bastion at Mahindra Citadel's Phase 2 in Pune. This was unveiled through a unique drone show which revealed a QR code leading to the Metaverse experience. The initiative allows potential buyers to virtually explore and interact with their future homes before making a purchasing decision. Read more
  • Investments surge: In the third quarter of 2023, the Indian real estate sector witnessed a significant influx of institutional investments, totaling $679.9 million. This is an 82% increase from the $373.43 million recorded in the same period the previous year. Read more
  • Brick biz boom: Mumbai's real estate is booming, with October 2023 expected to register 10,523 properties, generating ₹831 crore for the state. It is a significant rise from the previous year. Notably, Central and Western Suburbs are seeing a spike in property launches due to strong demand and upcoming metro connectivity. Read more
  • AI bets: Google has pledged to invest up to $2 billion in Anthropic, an AI company considered a rival to OpenAI, with an upfront amount of $500 million, and an additional $1.5 billion over time. This move, significantly upscaling from a previous $400 million investment, aims to fortify Google's position in the AI landscape against competitors like Microsoft and OpenAI. Read more
  • Drive-thru debut: On January 24, 1975, the first McDonald's drive-thru opened in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a town close to Fort Huachuca military base. This innovative move was initiated by franchise owner Dave Rich, who created an opening in his restaurant's wall to cater to soldiers prohibited from appearing in public in their uniforms, making traditional dine-in impossible. Read more

When compassion meets concrete


Image credits: Architecture-in-Development

In the narrative of affordable housing, few projects have left an imprint as profound as the Aranya Housing Project by architect Balkrishna Doshi. This venture not only provided a roof over the heads of the economically weaker section but pioneered a community-centric model, earning Doshi the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Historical context: The late 80s saw India grappling with an escalating housing crisis. The shortage of housing was felt acutely across urban and rural domains during the early to mid-80s, a challenge that reverberated into the 90s and beyond​. It was against this backdrop that the Aranya Housing Project emerged in 1989 in Indore, offering a flicker of hope amidst a landscape of escalating real estate prices and urban poverty.

Architectural vision: Doshi envisioned a habitat that was more than a mere agglomeration of houses. His philosophy was rooted in:

  • Creating a socio-economic mix to foster a natural environment for community living
  • Designing a layout that encouraged interactions and broke the shackles of economic disparity

Design details: The nuances in the design of Aranya, situated around 6 kilometres from the heart of Indore, are a study in meticulous planning and community-centric architecture:

  • Layout:

    • A mix of plots and houses, ranging from modest one-room units to spacious houses
    • A hierarchical network of pathways, courtyards, and internal roads, fostering ease of movement and social interaction

  • Housing Typologies:

    • Six different types of housing, allowing for economic diversity and choice
    • Incremental development was encouraged, allowing residents to expand their homes as per their financial capability

  • Sustainability:

    • Utilization of local materials and building techniques, reducing costs and environmental impact
    • Spatial arrangements facilitating natural ventilation and daylight, reducing energy consumption

Community building: The intrinsic design features catalysed community bonding. Common spaces like courtyards and squares became the social glue, hosting a myriad of community activities. The residents’ involvement in the maintenance and evolution of common facilities nurtured a sense of ownership and collective identity.

Impact and legacy: Aranya's ripple effect transcended geographical boundaries. The project set a precedent, inspiring numerous low-cost housing initiatives across India and beyond. Its accolades and enduring relevance underscore the potent blend of empathy and innovation in addressing housing challenges.

The Aranya Housing Project shines as a real-world classroom for real estate professionals and students. It's a live blueprint showcasing how empathetic, community-centric design can not only address housing shortages, but foster a living, breathing community. Aranya exemplifies a trailblazing approach in affordable housing, making it a pivotal case study for those aspiring to make meaningful impacts in the real estate arena.


Should I opt for M-sand instead of river sand for constructing my house?
- Balasubramaniam

Hi Balasubramaniam,

M-sand (Manufactured sand) is considered a suitable alternative to river sand in many cases due to its availability, cost-effectiveness, and environmental benefits. It's usually of consistent quality and free from impurities, making it a good choice for concrete and masonry work. However, the choice between M-sand and river sand should also consider local regulations, the quality of available M-sand, and the specific requirements of your construction project.

Have a question? Reply to this email - if it's relevant to the broader Open House community, I'll feature it here!



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Disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. Please conduct your own due diligence prior to making any decisions.

By Ashwinder R. Singh
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