A TALK WITH Ar. LALITA THARANI & Ar. MUJIB AHMED


AR. Lalita Tharani & Ar. Mujib Ahmed

  • WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE ARCHITECTURE ?

LALITA: Hmm. Let me see. All along I wanted to be in a creative profession, I showed aptitude towards painting, sculpting, sketching from early days during my school. Guess it runs in the family! My grandfather was an artist, my dad an engineer (who sketched beautifully), I believe I wanted best of both worlds, creative at the same time technical & architecture fitted the bill perfectly, so architecture it was.Even though dad wanted me to be an engineer, he never discouraged me from pursuing what I wanted and I quit computer engineering to be a part of the profession!

MUJIB: In Kerala, every second professional was either a doctor or and engineer, in our days. I was always passionate about football and played at the club level, and never intended to follow the crowd, so was looking for options other than a doctor or an engineer. When a friend suggested that Architecture engineering at REC, Calicut was a very simple and easy course, I more than willingly took it up, so that I could dedicate all my time playing football! It was also easy to convince parents, citing that this was the next best course to engineering!

Rest is history…

  • WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?

Architecture is about passion, talent and visions.

We approach each project with the belief to be able to innovate and learn something new. It is highly gratifying. In the process along with good design we can be socially relevant too, a deed we have accomplished in couple of our projects.

  • WHAT IS THE MANTRA THAT YOU'VE RELIED ON IN BALANCING FUNCTION WITH AESTHETICS?

For us there is no specific programmatic blueprint or Mantra. The studio invests in design research and intuitive design at equal measures. The designs are often a ‘Sangam’ (union) of these two approaches. It derives out of multitudes of ideas, client brief, site, climate, economics, context etc are a few of them.

  • TALK ABOUT THE SKILLS THAT HAVE SERVED YOU BEST IN YOUR CAREER.

Perseverance and work as a team in spite of differences and reading beyond the brief.

  • WHAT ARE THE THINGS A BUDDING ARCHITECT SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO WHILE HANDLING PROJECTS? WHAT ACCORDING TO YOU ARE THE DO'S AND THE DONT'S IN THIS FIELD?

Hear one’s inner voice. Bring the change than being an average designer. Architecture is 20% design & 80% shear hard work to realize that design. As in any creative profession, there are no short cuts! To achieve something be a perpetual student, a good observer, never believe that you have learnt all. 

  • MENTION FEW OF YOUR NOTABLE PROJECTS AND WHY THEY ARE CLOSE TO YOU.

Most projects are challenging in one way or the other and you learn something new each time. Hence there are various projects, which have been close to our heart, one point of time or another.

Wrap series, Inverted Topography - Mezban.



Indian National War Museum.


Reflected Topography - BGRT.




Philippines - International Competition, Kennedy Center, Israeli Lounge. New Delhi – International Competition, BCDA Iconic Tower, Manila. Washington DC, USA – International Competition, are some of the recent projects that catapulted the firm into a different league within the profession, by giving us international finalist positions and numerous national and international awards.

  • WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF INDIA'S ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

We are at least few decades behind in most aspects of the game. To begin with, that is the very state of the profession at the moment. If India needs to make its mark on the international design scene in a big way (we have done so in small measures), we need to change the attitude and approach towards design. Innovation - Industry integration with design and innovation. Approach - Our approach needs to become more research and system driven. Technology - We need to invest in Technology R&D. Application - We need to stop tolerating mediocrity and rise above the jugad system to a more process driven one.

Finally for any architecture or design to be relevant it has to be contextual, inclusive & people centric. India has multitudes of contexts - not just in terms of history, climate and immediate communities. Hence we need different strategies for different contexts, but the above are the common threads that bind them together.

  • WHO HAS BEEN YOUR INSPIRATION IN DESIGN?

Inspiration comes from a wider canvas of art, literature, fashion, and urbanism little from Architecture. 

LALITA: Mark Rothko - for the immense spatial possibilities. Jackson Pollock - for the sheer Dynamism. UNstudio - for consistency in innovation. Zaha Hadid - for the energy & tenacity with which she transformed her practice from a paper architect, to the one that builds across the globe.  Issey Miyake - for the minimalist, patterned & wondrous cuts. Manish Arora - for his loud, bold style & mystical use of colours & intricate prints. The list is endless!

MUJIB: Louis Kahn.

  • WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR FAVOURITE ARCHITECTURAL/DESIGN PIECES AROUND THE GLOBE?

LALITA: Zhah Hadid’s Vitra Fire Station and the time less Eames Lounge chair with ottoman.



MUJIB: Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute.



  • WHAT DO YOU LOVE DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT DESIGNING?

LALITA: Cooking, listening to music, watching movies and gazing into the sea.

MUJIB: Reading, watching movies, going to beach.

  • SHARE SOME OF YOUR VALUABLE ADVICE FOR OUR READERS TO GET INSPIRED OF.

There are more important and valuable things in life than architecture, but a good design, would help you to appreciate life better.

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