Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In conversation with an Architect!

Your name and age? 

Ar. Anubhav Goyal D.O.B. 11/02/1986


Ar. Anubhav Goyal received his Bachelor’s Degree from Aayojan school of Architecture, Jaipur and Masters in Urban Planning from MNIT, Jaipur. Also did P.G.P.M. from NICMAR, Pune. He also worked in Holland (Rotterdam) for half a year to experience architecture globally.

He has been responsible for the design, engineering and implementation of a wide variety of projects. He has also been taking guest lectures at private architectural institutes and NITs. 
1. Why did you choose to become an architect? How and where did your career in architecture begin?

It was a very natural choice. Several teachers and friends of our family noted that I seemed to have interests that included both science and art. The project-based nature of the profession makes everyday new and different – with new projects and new challenges. Also I chose it because it’s a very creative profession, plus the fact that you could have something that you’ve designed realised in real life. As time progressed, I began to be intrigued by how buildings could affect the way we live, our mood and behaviour. We spend most of our lives in buildings – through architecture you can influence the way people live their lives for the better.

I began working in a local architecture firm during my architectural education and gained a first-hand perspective on the practice of architecture. Second major opportunity I got while working at 24H Architecture BV in Holland where I learned designing/ analytical and professional approach to architecture.

After returning from Holland, I found myself looking for the next professional challenge, and the idea of starting a new practice appealed to me. Since then, I enjoyed the four years of independent practice in designing various projects. 

2. What is an average day in your life like? Take us through it.

I spend around 40 hours per week on my workstation for designing and developing ideas/ concepts for my projects. The work activities involve discussions with colleagues and interns on varied projects to achieve a design output as per owner’s requirements. I also like to spend few hours on sites and sometimes taking guest lecture for students of architecture. 

3. What has been the most memorable or exciting event in your career?

The rewards are many indeed. There is great satisfaction as a project comes to fruition – knowing it will have a positive effect on the lives of many people.

Architecture responds to our human condition in many, many ways. It is about people – from its purpose, to its process, and its products. Without the needs, relationships, and appreciation of people there would be no rewards in the practice of architecture. Simply stated, the great reward in the practice of architecture is our participation in the transformation of the world, for the better, for others.

4. What is the Indian architectural industry like - in terms of pay, people and lifestyle - can you give students an idea of what to expect?

Architects create design, and in co-ordination with engineers, they endeavour to make the drawings a reality. Both these fields should operate in tandem but can never replace each other. Unfortunately, more and more engineers are now trying to perform the work of an architect. A pathetic situation has come about wherein architects are not being given a free hand. 

An architect is a creator. One cannot put a price tag on his creative energy. 

Right now, the real estate market is in a slump, so the ratio of architects to job opportunities is uneven. 

Students should be prepared for a low income when they graduate. You don’t make a lot of money out of it, not until later. It’s not as well-paid as everyone thinks – not for the hours you do. Secondly, be prepared to work hard and play hard. It’s a very social career and very social at university – you form a very close-knit group of people simply through being in the studio all day. Also, get experience whenever you can, like on a construction site, or in an office, and read books, visit buildings – just really throw yourself into it.

5. What in your opinion, makes an exceptional architect? What quality should he or she possess?

Architects must get engaged in the needs of the larger community rather than esoteric few. An architect must be aware of all the parameters of planning and adhere to the planning rules and regulations laid down by the authorities. He should co-ordinate with other professionals, like the contractors, engineers, decorators etc, in order to complete the structure. In this field, practical experience is very important. 

I personally feel that an architect must be given complete autonomy in his field of designing. Anybody who employs an architect should brief him about his needs and financial constraints, and it is the architect's responsibility to fulfil the needs of the employer and design within the stipulated fee.

6. What are the challenges, if any, faced by architects today?

The architect’s role changes throughout the course of the project. At the outset the primary role of the architect is to assist the owner in envisioning the possibilities for the future of their built environment. Then each project requires decisions to be made which eliminate some of the possibilities, and the owner rightly depends on the advice of the architect in this narrowing of the options. Then the architect brings all the necessary engineers and other design experts into the project and coordinates their aspects of design work. The architect brings together all of the project requirements and the design efforts of multiple engineers into a cohesive, integrated whole. All of this occurs under the guidance of the architect who guides the project, ensuring that the final design meets the requirements and goals set forth in the early stages of the design process.

7. Do you have any criticism about the average buildings you find in India today?

I have a real appreciation of buildings that A) utilize authentic materials, and B) serve a public, communal, or ritual purpose.

8. What is architecture school like -- or at least how was yours – could you describe it a little for students interested in joining? Is entrance very difficult (high cut off marks)?

Architecture can be defined as the science of building. It is both an art and a science and combines art and technology to create monuments. Architecture is a profession, which has been practised from times immemorial. Architecture, as a profession, has thrived in India for centuries and all the magnificent monuments are testimonials. 

As a curriculum in colleges, it started sometime during the British rule, with the establishment of JJ School of Arts in Mumbai, which offered a diploma in architecture. Many years later, the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi was started, and by 1957, there were around seven to eight colleges in the country. Other colleges like REC Trichy, started offering architecture as a course of study in the 1960s. Gradually, many of the self-financed, private colleges began offering the subject. Right now, there are around 100 schools in India, with Maharashtra topping the list with 30 schools. Karnataka comes second with more than 18 schools. Premier institutions in the country are IIT Kharagpur, School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, JJ School of Architecture in Mumbai, JN Technological University of Hyderabad, Anna University, Chennai and REC Trichy.

The entrance exam (NATA) for architecture is not very difficult to clear. All it requires is an aptitude towards art and creativity. 

9. Which architects have inspired you? Can you name some buildings in India and outside that have inspired you?

I am in love with Frank Lloyd Wright. Modern architecture is incredible. Howard Roarke from Ayn Rand's Novel ‘The Fountainhead’ would have been my crush if he was real.

The Parthenon [Athens], Hagia Sophia [the Byzantine church that later became a mosque in Istanbul], the Chrysler Building [New York City], Grand Central Terminal [New York City], and Amiens Cathedral [Amiens, France].

10. Beauty and art is subjective and trends are always changing. But what is your personal idea of *good architecture*?

Simplicity. Making complex programs and requirements appear simple is incredibly difficult and at its essence, that is why I appreciate modern architecture as much as I do.

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