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Green & Exposed- The Sanjay Puri Trend

Sketch by Ar. Sanjay Puri ©

“Go back, look at the context, look at the historical references and with that build something that is contemporary and belongs to today.” - Ar. Sanjay Puri

Ar. Sanjay Puri ©

The founder of SPA, Sanjay Puri Architects, Ar. Sanjay Puri credits his inspiration to merely a book, ‘The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand’. Graduate of Rachana Sansad, Mumbai, Sanjay Puri had all his dreams aligned at the age of 16 years old. He practiced under Ar. Hafeez Contractor in his fresher years before commencing his own practice.

“You’re always fighting as an architect for a good design against developers & clients who are only interested in the time & budget rather than a fruitful design.” - Ar. Sanjay Puri

The ideology of Ar. Sanjay Puri evolves around the site & climate contextual design. He is one of the leading architects in the country who practices a very peculiar style of architecture. Sanjay Puri Architects came to life in 1992 with a residential project in Mumbai. Ar. Sanjay Puri describes it as a commercially driven project. Later, they acquired many similar projects in the residential architecture genre. Ar. Sanjay Puri says he was becoming blasé of the commercially impelled projects. He wanted to design something meaningful to the core. He started to look for a school project but had to face many issues being a newly established organization in the fields of architecture. Having no prior experience in the educational design type of architecture, scoring a project was a challenge in itself. It took a lot of initial years for the firm to get hands in the practicing field. The motto of SPA is to revolutionize spaces for a better user experience whilst maintaining contextual design solutions. Today, Sanjay Puri Architects is a team of 72 architects and designers working with the unique design style one may refer to as the critical regionalism style of architecture. In one of the interviews, when asked about the issues faced by Indian architects, he put forth a couple of valid points such as-

  1. Clientele in India who do not understand good architecture and need for sustainability & flexible budget.

  2. Nobody likes to try anything new or different, everyone likes to follow what has already been experimented.

  3. Architects are not paid well in India and in many other countries.

  4. Clients do not come forward with a specific set of requirements and change their minds quite often.

And even after such sets of challenges, architects like Sanjay Puri are successful in not only sustaining projects but also practicing a design style that is not very popular across India.

“Architecture is about creating a space in a way that has not been perceived before.” - Ar. Sanjay Puri

SPA are among the architects who won WAF (world architecture festival) awards in two future project categories. So far, they have won more than 102 international awards many of which include the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design’s Internation Architecture Awards in years 2011, 2012, 2014 & 2016. The team also scored the World Architecture Festival Awards 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011 & 2010, 14 Mipim Architectural Review Future Project Awards, 5 Architizer A+ Awards New York & 12 World Architecture Community Awards, UK.

Prestige University, Indore by Sanjay Puri Architects ©

Ar. Sanjay Puri mentions his fondness of nature integrated and responsible architectural practices in a few too many of his interviews. His design reflects the same. Right from the use of local exposed materials to the construction details, design forms, etc. His projects have a way of demonstrating his sustainable ideology. In one of his interviews with the AD, Ar. Sanjay Puri responds when asked for a word of advice for freshers in the field, he says to not copy from the foreign culture when building in India. Instead copy from the 100-year-old Indian architectural heritage which was built to tackle the specific regional climate. The elements and materials in his design are a product of this philosophy that is phrased as his legacy. However, Sanjay Puri keeps in mind the need of the hour and only imitates the techniques in a contemporary way. His structures stay firm on aesthetics whereas being every ounce of sustainable parody.

Repetitive Forms in Buildings Designed by SPA ©

One other observation in his design is the repetitive odd forms. Be it curves, or odd-shaped box windows, or cutouts in facades, this characteristic is patent to Sanjay Puri Architects. Even though his construction details, materials, and many such characteristics have been derived from the vernacular architecture specific to the region, the design forms are often in the deconstructivist style of architecture. Sanjay puri is not only an inspiration to freshers as a successful architect but also as a responsible architect who can show wonders that can be achieved with sustainability.

“Do not let go of the goals & ideas you’ve been taught to the commercial world. Hang on to those and push them in what you do” - Ar. Sanjay Puri

© 2021 by Ardent Space for Architectural research and Practice

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