Ar. Vivek Puri, Partner, MAas Architects, an Alumni of SPA, Delhi feels that most buildings from ancient times were using sustainable energy efficient designs. Learning from the past and interpreting in modern context is the simplest way to incorporate sustainable ideas into our designs. In an exclusive interview with Sawdust, the architect shares about himself, people and things that inspire his work and creativity
Ar. Vivek Puri, MAas-min
What do you say about the planned ‘Smart City’ projects in India? Do you think they are workable? You have any suggestions?
We are as confused as everyone else about what is the role of an architect in a smart city. It is a concept for Planners to design and IT companies to execute. Architects have a very limited role in the same; if at all.
What are the main difficulties and challenges you encounter -Market fluctuations, Material shortages, Spurious materials, Clients who don’t know what they want or Others
The biggest challenge in the above is the last one – clients who don’t know what they want ( but think they know everything). Rest of the above are all manageable.
How do you incorporate sustainable practices into your projects?
Most buildings from ancient times were using sustainable energy efficient designs; It is not a new phenomena. Learning from the past and interpreting in modern context is the simplest way to incorporate sustainable ideas into our designs.
Bringing newness/uniqueness in every project is a difficult proposition. How do you tackle this?
Uniqueness in each project will always come if you use multiple minds. We never limit the concept design to a few team members; in-fact once a team is ready there is an open critique session where the entire office is open to participate; This process helps us explore different design solutions and come up with new and unique concepts every presentation.
Tell us about a project that represents your practice – your most important work(s)
One project cannot define 20 years of a practice – it is an evolving process and each project is unique on its own standing; all projects are as important with their unique set of challenges and complexities.
If you have to list three best projects executed by you, which ones will come to your mind first and why?
If the question is for best design we have a whole lot of unbuilt designs for various competitions.
For executed best projects maybe
- The Masterpiece for its form
- The Metropolis for its detailing
- IDA pre nursery school for its bold approach.
Do you think foreign architecture firms entering India pose any threats to local architecture firms?
I don’t think there is any threat from foreign architects entering Indian market. As a matter of fact, it brings on table more ideas and new evolved thought processes for Indian designers, which is overall good for the industry.
Are there any special benefits – in terms of knowing latest techniques, architectural practices, etc.- by enrolling oneself in international architecture schools as compared to the best local architecture schools?
Some of the top schools in India like SPA,CEPT, JJ College are at par with International Architecture schools in terms of curriculum and knowledge base. If extra exposure like outstation travel and exchange programs are given during the 5 years, it will always be beneficial.
Share with us the philosophical foundation of your studio. What are the fundamental ideas that outline your practice? Is there a ‘Process’ or ‘Method’ that is central to your work – how do you approach your work.
The approach is very simple – each project that comes in is dealt initially with both the partners till concept finalization stage – after which taken over by one of them. Interpretation of client requirements with Architects personal touch will always yield a win-win for both parties – the client gives shape to his dreams and the architect is able to mould them with form and aesthetics.
Tell us about your experiences where you studied.
Being an Alumni of SPA, Delhi had the honour of competing with the best in the market. The impossible timelines with multiple submissions continuously was a great learning experience on time management and group work. Modern school taught to imagine the impossible whereas SPA taught how to implement the imagination.
Getting quality manpower is a problem for you?
Yes it is; but we have aligned with a few institutions to get the students at internship level only – we have designed a rigorous training format to expose the students to all facets of architecture so that by the end of their practical training they qualify to work with MAas Architects.
How important is client briefing? Apart from client briefing what are the other ways you adopt to know client’s mind?
It is most important to get a clear cut client brief at the beginning of the project – unfortunately that never happens. Lots of times the clients rely on us Architects in forming the brief which is incorrect as we are not trained to do so; but most of us end up doing so. Exposing clients to multiple case studies and scenarios help us zero down their likes and dislikes. Besides, discussing multiple approaches with them with simple sketches at pre-concept stage helps in certain cases.
Comfort, cost and environment friendliness – which aspect is the most important for you?
Aesthetics is most important to us as cost is to the clients – everything else falls in place if both these are taken care of.