Sunil Kulkarni of Core Architecture

Tete-A-Tete with Experts Dated:  April 6, 2015
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Architect: Sunil Kulkarni

Pune based architect Sunil Kulkarni, of Core Architecture talks to us about his designs and what inspires him to excel and go the extra mile with every project. Born and bought up in Pune, architect Kulkarni, soon after his graduation, joined “Sangath” which he considers to be his Alma matter. He believes that the two and half years he spent in Ahmedabad working and learning from Ar. Balkrishna Doshi opened a new world to him and influenced greatly both his development as an Architect and his growth as an individual. The period brought him in contact with many talented and driven individuals who have made a huge impact and been an inspiration for him till date.

garden linking office blocksgarden linking office blocks

When did you start Core Architecture?
After “Sangath” I came back to Pune and started practice alone by the name of ORIGENEDESIGN in 1998. Eventually in 2006 I came together with Ar. Mayuresh Shirolkar to form a partnership firm by the name of CORE.

Ar. Sunil Kulkarni, Ar. Aparna Kulkarni, Ar. Mayuresh shirolkarAr. Sunil Kulkarni, Ar. Aparna Kulkarni, Ar. Mayuresh shirolkara

What kind of projects have you been working on?
We at core believe that Architecture can evoke sensibilities of the society and has the power to influence the path that individuals and groups can follow. We take it as a huge responsibility and work towards achieving these goals with absolute integrity. Energy efficiency in building has been our driving force and has always been the starting point in all our work. We have been mostly working on Hospitality, Healthcare and Office buildings.

Tell us something about your approach to projects?
I can’t put pencil to paper unless there is an all encompassing idea. Every project will provide a unique opportunity to the designer. Once that opportunity is identified, one can direct all energies in completely exploring the same and coming up with Architectural solutions, sometimes subtle, sometimes radical, ending in an extremely satisfying and invigorating journey. We feel that the process and the journey itself is the end. If that is exciting and vibrant, the resulting architecture will also embody these intangibles. Timelessness is an objective that keeps challenging our intellect and pushes us to experiment, in order to understand and comprehend this in a spiritual manner.

staircase designsstaircase designs

How do you build sustainability into your projects? 
Green/ Sustainable have become fashionable words in an Architects lexicon. There are, even today, communities who lead a largely sustainable life. Architects, on the other hand have limited their contribution to selection of materials and technology. Both are not created by them. We believe that we need to innovate ourselves and to contribute in an architectural manner. Materials and technology can enhance a deeply thought out architectural solution even further. In today’s age, it is impossible to have a sustainable solution, especially in the metros. But as Architects we can only contribute in reducing consumption of materials and energy as much as possible. 

Do you think it is a challenge to get clients to appreciate and go in for sustainable design?
It cannot be a challenge, since energy efficient buildings can make substantial savings for the clients. A clever architectural solution can reduce maintenance costs dramatically. Architects can contribute with their intellect, by adding value to the functional design of the buildings. Most clients recognize the potential of good ideas and their positive impact on their lives. Eventually one starts attracting clients with mutually conducive aspirations and intellect. ;)

You recently won the AICA award for designing Corporate Office of Elantas Beck India Ltd. Please elaborate a bit about this project?
The visual appeal of the buildings is minimalistic – expressing its deeper self without any cosmetics, and frills. Although it is a corporate office, it has an institutional character. It becomes a place for contemplation and growth. The spaces have a vibrant and simultaneously a very meditative emotion. Though the character of the building is international, it is rooted in its place and culture.

The building was divided functionally into two parts. Both the parts were roughly oriented East-West, with longer faces exposed on the North and South sides. The East and West sides were left with very small or no openings, so as to block the horizontal sun in the morning and evening. The south face was shaded by sun shading devices and further with operable louvers. All the light necessary for office working is derived from the North and South faces which completely open out and can, in summers, derive only diffused light.

night view of gardennight view of garden

The wedge-shaped space between the two buildings has been conceptualized as a valley between two rock outcrops. This was to add moisture to the spaces and create a micro climate and reduce the ambient temperature in the building. The wedge shape of this space creates ‘Ventury‘ effect and the breeze generated reduces the heat from inside the office blocks.

The elevator was taken away from the work space to discourage vertical circulation, instead the beautiful, lush Hillock was created to act as an effortless walk up or down, creating an experience which is very personal and rich. Also this central space was interspersed with common activities to create a dynamic space instead of a mere visual spectacle. This space opens out into a large reflecting pool which in turn reflects the coconut plantation on the east. The reflecting pool collects storm water from the roof and the overflow runs into tube wells driven to recharge ground water.
 
What kind of projects do you personally enjoy working on?
We enjoy working on anything that is gives us an opportunity to explore new ideas. We have worked with the same passion and energy right from a chair to a large corporate office. It is extremely satisfying to create and build a design language of your own.

Out of all projects you and your team have worked on, which is your personal favorite?
My personal favourite is the 3Arcs Chair, which is a folding rocking chair. This is a beautiful minimalist design, which is incomplete without any single element in it. Articulation in this design is in its frugality.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge for me or for any designer is to understand one self. Unless one can look inside and contemplate about the driving force inside, it is difficult to innovate, and create unique exciting solutions. Till that point one is an intellectual slave to brilliant work of other designers.

reflecting pondreflecting pond

Who and what inspire you?
Ar. Balkrishna Doshi is the biggest influence on my thoughts and actions. His sermons would elevate our sensibilities and take our imagination to another plane. His teaching has sustained me till date, and has pushed me to explore more than the tangible built environment. His thoughts on art and culture have left a deep imprint on my mind and have helped me define my path, in architecture, music, paintings…and mainly in life. There have been other teachers who have also influenced my thinking too. Coming from different walks of life, these people together have defined me as a person and as a designer.

What would be your dream project?
Every project is a dream project. I don’t believe in looking into the future. I believe in enjoying the present and soaking in the journey. The end is inconsequential.

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