Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Scientists of Sustainability & Architecture

By Marina Correa
Photography: Courtesy the architects
Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Manit & Sonali Rastogi of Morphogenesis

Principal architects Sonali and Manit Rastogi of Delhi-based firm Morphogenesis are not only an erudite and smart couple, but also global itinerants, who have since childhood deeply imbibed qualities of being culturally and ecologically-sensitive; polishing their personalities into an ideal synthesis of what architects, designers, urbanists and planners of the built and unbuilt form should be like… 

As far as their philosophy towards work is concerned, architecture and design is their way of life, so it was not surprising that besides a multitude of other accolades, they have won the prestigious SIA-GETZ Architecture award 2014. Based on an entire body of work, reviewed by peers, it brings emergent Asian architecture to the forefront of global discourse. “To us, this recognition has converted our lifetime of commitment into a conviction, which we hope will go a long way towards our vision of ‘Building Brand India’,” say the couple.

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Marble Arch, Chandigarh

Nearly two decades old, the firm began its humble journey with a few tiny projects out of a room above a garage. “To be entrusted with the responsibility of building what was a cutting-edge building around 1996, where technology hadn’t yet reshaped the world, was exhilarating,” says Sonali about winning a competition for the Apollo Tyres Corporate Headquarters.

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Pearl Academy of Fashion, Jaipur

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
The Lalit, Dehradun

Known as advocates of sustainable architecture, we ask them where this sensibility actually got honed? “The Architectural Association (London) exposed us to cutting-edge architecture and dialog with design, furthering our ability to see and absorb; while making and sustaining a huge impact on me,” shares Sonali. Manit, on the other hand, was influenced by his education in sustainability as well as his work with John Frazer, who taught him Evolutionary Design.

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Delhi Art Gallery, Delhi

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
GYS Vision, Gurgaon

Various factors have influenced their understanding of design. “To us, design is a result of different stimuli, ranging from climatic conditions, urban fabric, local traditions to human activity,” says Manit. That not only makes them look at a project anew, but also anchors it in contextual and geographical aspects.

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Infosys, Nagpur

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Resort in Kerala

Asserting itself as an architectural laboratory, the firm seeks to expand the boundaries of design, architecture and environmental concerns by backing each of its projects across typologies via research and sustainable features that can heal the ruptured fabric of urbane cities; in turn forging economic, environmental, social, political and cultural processes, which re-define  better city life. 

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Kathmandu, Nepal

Architectural firm Morphogenesis based in Delhi
Chettinaad Health City Auditorium, Chennai

Deeply disturbing to them is the fact that there always seem to be reams written and narrated about the British and Mughal era architecture in India, but nowhere a significant stamp of what “Indian architecture and design of the 80s, 90s and current century is about”.  So as an antidote, the Morphogenesis vision is all about excelling in design to the extent, where it starts to have an impact, if not awareness about architecture in India and globally. 

To sum up, we leave you with a profound quote from the architects. “Every project comes with its challenges and if it doesn’t, then we create them, because at Morphogenesis, there is a philosophy of trying to do something innovative and new with everything we work on.”

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