“With every project, comes a varied level of difficulty and will need to be tackled differently but your enthusiasm should not be lowered”
Tell us about your journey from being a student of Architecture to today being the owner of the well-known firm SM Studio.
Honestly, what we have learnt in college is not how the world outside works. As a college student I was good to go but it was in my internship that I learnt, it takes much more than the college taught knowledge; the instincts. The confidence in yourself, and to not give up or lose your enthusiasm even if you fail a hundred times.
College majorly lacks in teaching on-site knowledge, which architecture is all about. As an intern on my first site visit I was equally awestruck and clueless. With time, I became the best amongst my colleagues, although I did falter at times, but it is the ‘never give up’ attitude that takes you far ahead. As they say, “difficulties only make you stronger and wiser”.
We became an architect, now our next big plunge was to start a firm. It was a highly risk involving decision, as you may have high chances of failure and it takes a huge task to be established. SM studio had its share of highs and lows, but then here we are and it was all worth it.
How would you define your design style? What is the underlying philosophy that you follow while designing for clients?
There has never been and never be a fixed design style. At SM studio, we aim at catering to all kinds of clients and give them an output that inculcates their personal touch.
Like in our residential projects, our key intention is to create a minimalistic environment with a touch of a cozy home environment. Whilst for commercial, we strive at creating a formal environment, but breaking the monotony with a hint of informality, creating elements that are “un-office” like.
Tell us the process as to how every project is handled right from planning to execution.
It is essential to draw from a client of what he wants, it is always not instant but it is an architect’s skill to read his clients need and want.
In the initial concept level planning, the architect designs as per the client’s requirements, on which the client gives his verdict and the architect begins designing. Series of design stages begin on which the client gives his “do’s and don’ts”.
Modern softwares simplify client’s and architect’s job, as the client is shown 3D renders that look like a realistic view.
Once all the design is finalized, with respect to the client’s budget, project costing is done. Costing or BOQ (bill of quantity) helps in analysis of detailed budget and where the budget can be altered. Then comes the final stage of execution, creating a timeline for work procedure and then the project begins.
Which has been your most memorable/challenging project and why?
One of our most memorable project was a private residence we did at Bandra, near MIG club. The apartment was located in the heart of the noisiest neighborhood, hence it was our conscious effort to cut off city’s buzz and to have a calm & mood setting environment within the house and it was achieved by the rational approach of design.
An apartment sized 10,000 sq.ft, the intent was to create an aura of a bungalow; on the seventh floor of a building. The task here was to convert ducts, overhead tank .i.e. entire service system into design elements & make sure they look unanimous.
Here, public and private life were combined in a shielded open plan. An introvert planning which separates private and public spaces in hierarchy and when required it can be an extrovert design, where all the areas blends into a single monolith space. Such planning is essential as it emphasizes privacy at one time and can celebrate enormity at another.
What are the challenges one faces as an architect in the initial stages of their career? How to overcome them?
The architecture profession is always in transition, always evolving and hence it is important to be updated with the trend. Procurement of processes and improving business outcomes for clients.
Competition is always on, with innumerable architects already around and new bunch stepping out every year, surviving becomes a task. This is when specialization, becomes a boon. It is highly beneficial if you are specialized in the field, as that gives you a better chance of surviving in the market.
Virtual building modelling and a range of other applications, being the key trend becomes a must know for an architect.
Urbanization and the role of modern design in creating better cities and build core capability in the profession at all levels. It is our role to inspire politicians with our vision, of a better built environment.
Rather than stare into the headlines of what has been lost, let’s expand our influence through providing better career progression for younger generations, lead the process of virtual building modelling, promote the benefits we bring to clients and make lobby to change risky, short-sighted procurement processes towards value creation.
Engaging in the debate at all levels to change the paradigm for our profession. Expand service offers and capacity through collaboration and increase the quality and effectiveness of services.
Which technical and other skills should aspiring architects be equipped with?
Most important skill an aspiring architect should possess according to me is the ability to imagine and design, think innovatively from both, inside and outside the box.
Technical abilities come second. AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup, 3dmax and many such software are present, one may learn any of them according to their suitability.
Is SM studio open to taking in interns and what do you look for in a prospective intern/employee?
SM studio is open, at times, to hire intern/ employee. We at SM studio hire intern/employee that are willing to adapt and grow. Their design abilities are a priority, second to which comes technical capabilities and project management.
What advice would you want to give to the aspiring architects?
It’s a competitive field and requires full attention and dedication. Being an architect, your field should have your entire commitment. With every project, comes a varied level of difficulty and will need to be tackled differently but your enthusiasm should not be lowered.
Architecture is a field where we shall be able to foresee the world as it is the architecture that lives through time, creates trends…
So if you have what it takes to be an architect, GOODLUCK!!