Please tell us about your academic achievements and professional experience.
After completing 12th standard in 1990, I applied for an Architecture course but couldn’t secure admission due to low percentage in PCM. So, I enrolled myself in 3 years Govt. Diploma for Interior Design. As this was a part time course, I started working at a renowned furniture retail shop at Santacruz. This gave me an insight into the market and practical know-how. After securing first class in the final year, I applied for the architecture course again and secured my admission in Academy of Architecture in 1994. Throughout my five years of academics, I worked part time with an architectural firm where I could closely investigate the practical aspects of the practice.
Post my graduation in 1999, I worked on a few design intensive projects carried out with innovative use of materials within strict budgets. This was in assoication with a collegue from Academy, but these projects were limited to Interiors. Eventually, economic constraints led me to seeking new horizons and hence, I moved to Dubai in 2001 with Archgroup. It is a multi-disciplinary firm that provides design services of Architecture, MEP Structures, QS along with PMC in-house. So, it was an end to end solution under one roof. I have been associated with Archgroup for the past 17 years now and I am fortunate enough to have made the decision of moving to Dubai when the company was growing.
What kind of projects do you enjoy the most and what inspires you and your work?
Hospitality projects are the most challenging and I enjoy working on them. Somehow, I had the opportunity to work on Hotels, right from my inception years. According to me, Hospitality projects are the most complex especially because there are various operators and every one of them have their brand standards to adhere to. Apart from that, there is a complex circulation of public and service areas that run in uni-direction, horizontal and vertical. These must assimilate seamlessly with the aesthetics.
The excitement of organising this and make it work is very inspiring. For example, we designed a luxury hotel recently with and no clients or operator on board. At the end of the concept, the operators were engaged. When the plans were presented to them, they inquired with the clients whether they had engaged any operators during the concept stage and the JV got fizzled. This to me, was a pat on my back and a compliment that every architect looks forward to while designing. However, it is very rare to receive such compliments directly in our profession.
How did you come to know about Dr. Rao and what made you think that Vaastu is an important aspect for architecture?
We are working on a big commercial development currently in Ahmedabad. Dr. Rao was introduced to us by the clients. They wanted our design to be Vaastu compliant keeping in mind the well-being of the business and the employees. As our project was already under construction, there were few limitations which we resolved by interacting with Dr. Rao from time to time.
During my tenure in Dubai, I worked on all cross-sectional Architecture projects in various capacities. This included Hospitality (luxury to budget), Residential Development (low rise and high rise), Commercial developments – IT buildings, Villas, Corporate offices, Master planning of townhouses schemes, malls, etc. For
most of the projects, I was involved with the concept design up to schematic stage. In many of the big scale projects, I used to develop the working drawings as well; however, in India, our scope is limited to architectural design and coordination.
Tell us something about the approach you use towards your projects.
Every project is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. Overcoming these challenges with the economic constraints and clients brief in mind, is the key. Prior to putting pen on paper, we always begin by analysing and dissecting the physical conditions of the plot. A site visit to the proposed plot is a very important aspect, without which it is difficult to envisage the development. Post this, there are rigorous in-house development sessions with the project architect to address the various planning constraints. We sometimes land up with various options for the given program and the best one comes across after various interaction internally and with the clients.
Do you feel architects and designers should be concerned about environment sustainability? If so, what role does green building play into your work?
Concern about our environment is integral to our profession. Architecture can govern the self-sustainability of the Project. We try to deal with all the aspects of sustainability at the concept stage of the project, starting with the orientation and the regional climatic conditions. The choice of materials for the project are also governed by these factors which governs the elvations. We are nearing completion of a corporate house in India which has received platinum rating from IGBC.What role has Vaastu played for you?
Vaastu has become an integral part of our design process, especially for all Indian projects. Most of our clients look for Vaastu compliant developments. If it is a residential development, it helps them a lot for marketing, as such aspects are sought after even by the end users. These are mostly based on self-experiences and rather than questioning each aspect, we try to comply with most of the Vaastu principles and requirements.
IIT Kharagpur introduces Vaastu Shastra to young architects. What is your take on it?
In India, 70 – 80% of our clients demand for Vaastu complaint designs. The degrees of compliance vary depending on the individual preference and the limitations that we might face at times. Keeping this in mind, making Vaastu Shastra part of the curriculum becomes integral to the process. It will assist the young architects to investigate further and make them more equipped for the practice.