Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Architecture as a Career Option

IAnD Exclusive

By Savitha Hira

Chrome Restaurant, Kolkata
His architecture may be termed expressionist or even aspirational, as Ar. Sanjay Puri constantly attempts to push the precincts of his own capabilities. The ace professional addresses aspiring architects on what to look for in this evergreen field of design… 

Getting to know Ar. Sanjay Puri is like connecting with a thick volume of information and insight; until you don’t open the book, and identify what you are looking for, it will continue to elude you.

My association with this ‘one of the top-ten architects from India’ dates back to 1998-99, when I first started following his interiors, his buildings and his seemingly constantly-shifting style of design. I got to know the architect more than the person, until repeated interactions with the man unveiled a gentle grounded personality, well informed and confident, marching his way through the history of modern Indian architecture.

With more than 2 decades as an architect, he has worked on diverse projects – single residences, bungalows, hotels, restaurants, entertainment centres, malls, cinema halls, lounges, leisure spaces, multi-housing, etc., etc., moving from interiors to architecture and back, evolving a vocabulary that is as much avant-garde as it is self possessing. His structures tend to evoke a duality of responses – transient yet grounded, sculptural in form, transcendental in content.

In terms of numbers: Sanjay Puri Architects has designed over 60 hotels in India; his is the only Indian architectural firm to be included in the most exciting architectural projects being built in Dubai; the only architectural firm globally to win commendation awards in 3 categories simultaneously at the 2011 MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards at Cannes, France; has won 20 international awards including  the prestigious World Architectural Festival Award in Barcelona in 2010, the 2011 Faces of Design Awards, Berlin, The European Centre for Architecture & Urban Studies International Architecture Awards 2011 among others; 54 national awards; the only Indian architect included in the judges panel at the World Architecture Festival 2010, Barcelona amongst 70 international judges... and more.

Ar. Sanjay Puri

In this exclusive interview, Ar. Sanjay Puri shares his passion for architecture through our column. IAnD in conversation with Ar. Sanjay Puri:

1.       What prompted you to pursue a career in architecture?
Reading ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand gave me my first insight into architecture as a field; after which I looked at architecture more closely, realizing it was the only art form that one can actually live in and experience physically as well as emotionally.

Bombay Art Society, Mumbai

2.      After 24 years in the field, what is that one thing you wish you could have learnt as a student, which should have been part of your syllabus?
There are many things that I wish I had learned as a student.  Knowledge of operating 3D software would have been extremely useful although these were not available while I was in college.

The other thing that I wish I had done as a student was travelling to various places to study significant architectural projects and experience them in reality. Also, more experimental work in terms of actually creating usable models to explore materials and forms and their abilities, which a lot of international colleges of architecture include in their learning.

Chrome Hotel, Kolkata

3. Two do’s that you could share with a student aspiring to pursue architecture?

·         Firstly, one must travel and see as much as one can; explore varied countries and their architectural heritage as well as the newer architectural projects constructed there. Every interesting building should be experienced physically at leisure to understand and appreciate the way spaces integrate, the volumetric relationships, the lighting of the spaces their tactile quality and their details. 

·         Secondly, one should Experiment, Evolve, Construct.
Experiment with design and materials; colour and lighting and textures.
Evolve a different language of design for each project.
Construct models to understand and feel in a more intimate way the varied materials, and what form can do to them and how they can create spaces.

Triose, Lonavala

4. Two don’ts that you could share with a student aspiring to pursue architecture?
·         Don’t copy a design or style and do not conform to any set or parameters. Free your mind of all pre conceived notions and ideas before beginning to design.

·         Don’t use a computer until some preliminary ideas have been sketched and mulled over.



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