WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE ARCHITECTURE ?
Right from my childhood I was always engaged in some kind of creative activities like sketching, clay modelling, colouring, painting, music etc. I used to make tiny bricks out of clay and bake them to make model of a house. That trait continued ahead also in my higher secondary and then to college. So it was very natural for me to take up a creative field like architecture.
WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?
In today’s context, primarily design perspective, is for some purpose and functionality. Ultimately it has to serve that particular purpose or functionality. Making it visually pleasing is equally important to making it acceptable. This delicate balance of this mix & match of functionality & aesthetics is the key skill in designing be it an architect, a product designer, a graphic designer or any other. The complexity varies as per the typology but the principle remains the same. There is a saying ‘Form Follows a Function’, i.e the function, the form (aesthetics) evolves automatically out of the process. This principle applies to any commercial project in any format.
My design philosophy essentially works in this direction. I make myself aware of the ultimate goal to be achieved through the design process, and work according to it. Aesthetics will be modelled out of this process. But for bespoke work, the ‘Form’ is to be achieved. In such cases the process is reverse. Take example of any architectural marvels, say – Taj Mahal . If it was to follow the function, then Taj Mahal would be never been built! The intent there was completely different. The form was fulfilling the intent and so it was designed that way. Hence the design philosophy depends on the intent of the work awarded to you, accordingly it has to be treated.
WHAT IS THE MANTRA THAT YOU'VE RELIED ON IN BALANCING FUNCTION WITH AESTHETICS?
As mentioned earlier, it depends on the intent of the project, so my way to deal with this balancing is essentially linked to the intensity of demand for the aesthetic or for the functionality. Typically it has been a function centric design. Since any project is essentially a business entity, it requires to achieve the goal through all the means including the built form. I have always been working to achieve the best of the functionalities in the project with appropriate aesthetics. Yes, in the process there is always a trade off to the design aspect, but none the less it suffices the goal of the project. Ultimately we have to remember that the built form which we work upon is part of a larger business program. We have to make justice to that and make our contribution towards the feasibility of the business and not just stick to the purity of design aspect of the built form.
TALK ABOUT THE SKILLS THAT HAVE SERVED YOU BEST IN YOUR CAREER.
Doodling, sketching, colouring, drawing, modelling etc are the fundamental tools for expression of any idea. And these are the exact skills which helped me in my career till date. Sketching especially is one such skill with which I effortlessly made presentations and made it through. Secondly, communication skill is the essential part to convey your ideation. Communication skill is not just the language skill, it fundamentally is about clarity of your thoughts, your ability to understand the key triggers of the whole process, it's about being compassionate towards the needs of your clients, it's about constructing a right response and ultimately propose and convey a right solution. The art of sketching came naturally to me, however the art of communication was developed step by step throughout my career.
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?
I would definitely like to put few things here, In this new world the projects are essentially part of a bigger business entities. So my primary noting to the budding architect would be become aware of this fact that you are one of the part of a larger chain of events which makes the project. The earlier notion of an architect to be at the helm of project cycle is a passé. When I mean ‘at the helm’ I mean it to be the key stake holder in decision making and control of the project. Now the key decision making in the project strategy, design, aesthetics are some different factors and entities. This is very important to be aware of. This is important to set your expectation out of your profession. Otherwise it might lead you frustrating experiences. Secondly the allied services inputs is critically important, and they should be taken as early as possible in the design conceptualisation stage itself. I suggest that designing of the concept itself should start in concurrence with the service expert. This will make the whole coordination process shorter and will bring value to the time invested. Third important aspect which I would like to mention is that your domain knowledge is going to make you ‘richer’ and ‘deeper ‘ in your competency, but be aware of the other aspect of this – your domain expertise is taking you deeper in you field, but it cannot making a horizontal progression in your overall career graph, be aware of this and at times come out of this mindset of being an expert and take ride of some other aspects which will help you to grow progressively. Fundamentally architecture is a profession and not a business. Currently it is somewhere in between.
MENTION FEW OF YOUR NOTABLE PROJECTS AND WHY THEY ARE CLOSE TO YOU.
There are few of them. I would like to mention a very old Project ‘Wadi’ a Village Motel which I did near Ellora. It is a village themed motel along the highway there. This one is close to my heart as it was my first project which was done with mud plaster, exposed bricks walls etc. The project was taken over my some bigger hotel chains for being training centre. Second is a project called Chlorophyll, in Chennai. It is a 14 storied nine building residential project. But the uniqueness of the project was its landscape terrace which were interconnected with each other through bridges. It is near to me as the whole process of the design implementation was assigned to be and our team made a turn around within very tight timeline to make the project stand on the ground. Third project is a project of two 36 storied towers again in Chennai. This was dear to me as we work upon the detailing of these tower with new from work technology. The whole process was a huge learning to all of us and the outcome is fantastic! There area many more to share, but stopping here.
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR INSPIRATION IN DESIGN?
There are many off course. But one whom I would like to mention is architect Santiago Calatrava. I am actually jealous than inspired! The way he has been able to succeed in implementing the beautiful concepts of form & shapes in reality is indeed a great inspiration.
WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR FAVOURITE ARCHITECTURAL/DESIGN PIECES AROUND THE GLOBE?
I love the Roman architecture for it's awesome expansive scale! The cathedral, the plaza, city square and what not. At the same time I am all time inspired by Eiffel Tower design, especially the detailing of it. From the new world the Marina Bay Sands for it's concept itself.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT DESIGNING?
I'm always in some form of creative activities when not doing any designing. Sketching, cartooning is my hobby and I do it regularly. I do some forms of sculpture in clay and stones pebbles. Or I would be writing for some newspapers.
SHARE SOME OF YOUR VALUABLE ADVICE FOR OUR READERS TO GET INSPIRED OF.
Architecture as a profession is on a verge of change. Designs are readily available off the shelf now, things are getting standardised. To top this, we are in the service industry i.e you are dependent on someone to provide your play field. But this new world is also opening new avenues for you too. Become aware of the change in the profession and gear up for the new things to come. Be it a new format of delivery, be it new technology or be it a new type of client! Be ready and work towards it. Set your expectations rightly before you start the journey. Identify the opportunities within and develop the skills accordingly. Only design skills will not sail you through. Get in a mode of understanding the overall market, your position in it, get the best of the cost related parameters set in your working so that it delivers the best impact!
Best luck for the very near future.