Interview with Ar. Narayan Moorthy of Kumar Moorthy & Associates

Tete-A-Tete with Experts Dated:  July 24, 2017
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Ar. Mallika Kumar & Ar. Narayan Moorthy

This week, we get into a candid conversation with Ar. Narayan Moorthy, one of the founding partners at Kumar Moorthy & Associates. Accoladed twice as Architect of the Year by J.K. Cement, his firm, which he founded with Ar. Mallika Kumar, showcases a diverse range of portfolio of projects, varying in both scale and nature. He received his educational qualifications from the School of Architecture, Institute of Environmental Design, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat. Successfully catering to timeless architecture and interior design services in the diverse locations of  Delhi including Noida, Greater Noida & Gurgaon, Agra, Mumbai, Indore (M.P.) and Kullu (H.P), the firm has been in inception since 1990. Read on to know more about his story... 

It is a very common notion that design resonates with the persona of the architects, narrating their traits. We would like to meet the creative mind behind the architect in you.

In our opinion evaluation of an architect is purely through his work. The individual person is unimportant, nothing of him remains in the project except that which can be seen or understood in the designed space building.

Your architectural practice has a notable history of more than a decade. How do you feel your designs have evolved over time? 

Evolution is the only constant in the field of design. While certain aims like a design that reflects the client’s needs and aspirations, visual and spatial simplicity, the payment of attention to amplitude of natural light and ventilation and ensuring space for and views of verdure along with apt use of funds remain a constant in our work, definitely today's greater felt need for ecological aptness and minimizing consumption of resources have informed our design as have the availability of a greater degree of modern materials.

Could you elaborate your design philosophy and how it reflects in the key works done by your firm?

Our design philosophy is as below: 

- Design that reflects the client’s needs and aspirations, their company or institution's aims & philosophy ; where they eventually feel the space or building created fits them to a tee and is perceived as so even by others.

- Visual and spatial simplicity,

- Attention to amplitude of natural light and ventilation and ensuring space for and views of greenery to render a calm and energizing built environment.

- To minimize the ecological footprint of the new entity (building or other) created.

- To use or modern materials to further the above aims.

Your firm has a diverse portfolio catering to residential, recreational, industrial etc. What encouraged you to enter that zone? 

Working on and exploring new (hitherto untackled) building functions gives us that challenge & novelty, the reason that makes us get out of bed each morning with fresh enthusiasm. It is the variety ; the chance to do sometimes an NGOs low cost new centre building in a dense neighbourhood and in a limited cost, the opportunity to design a new building as an infill into a heritage school campus, to do a high-tech modern yet simple large office building that sparks new vigour- there is new learning, different challenges and a diverse clientele (other than one's own sensibilities) to satisfy : we , for one, do not understand how some architects like to specialize and then work on the same building typology for years.

Every architect has his/her own unique design sensibilities. Share with us your design approach towards different projects. 

Given the common primary objectives as above, the approach for each project is titrated or varied given the clients aims and requirement and our intellectual approach to that set of issues. Be it the very low cost, low ecological footprint  and South East Asian element inspired farmhouse for the Gopala Krishnan’s in recently completed projects or a non-glass box yet very contemporary office building in Gurgaon or a couple of contemporary , low slung yet earthy farmhouses we are working at : each approach is reflective of the above.

What core competencies do you and your partner Ar. Mallika, bring to the firm? 

Both of us are passionate about design but Mallika is especially deft with tight spaces & complex functional programmes while Narayan enjoys even the technological & construction management or cost oriented challenges each project brings along.

What has been the source of inspiration behind your works? Any early influences in your career. 

We are constantly inspired: equally by the works of the old greats as of new youngsters with radically different yet clean approaches. It is also fascinating to see the work of architects grappling with different issues in other countries/ climates and culture (for instance we recently discovered the work of Marci Kogan  in Brazil) and the diversity of the outcomes. And as usual in the field of art and architecture, something seeps into our conscious and reflects in our later works from their approach which both we and the interested observer will definitely be able to tell.

Is there any special project you are emotionally attached to? Could you tell us what is special about the (to which you are emotionally attached) project? 

All our projects are emotional attachments whilst they are happening and most of them give us deep satisfaction thereafter: even if one grows away as an architect from the approach espoused then, the pleasure of that creation is never forgotten. And of course, the buildings or the spaces we are able to revisit constantly for various reasons become dearer still, maybe just because they are better remembered.

What has been your most defining moment in your architectural journey up till now? 

It has all been one defining journey & hope to continue for as long as we can.

Having been the recipient of the JK Cement Architect of the Year award twice by the JK Cement Architect of the Year, for residential projects how would you sum up your experience?

It is definitely great to be recognized by a jury of one's peers & fellow professional: we just wish we could find the time and spare manpower to participate in new award competitions soon and again.

Any words of wisdom to the young designers starting out today?

Only work at that which truly enthuses you and enjoy yourself immensely in the process by immersing yourself in it: the product will give pleasure like not much else can. (Except possibly one's own children: in one sense equally one's creations :-) .

An architectural marvel designed by another architect which continues to entice you, each time you pay a visit.  

We will choose two local example in India / Delhi for this: those wonderful buildings visited elsewhere once don’t fit. Corbusier's Millowner's Building in Ahmedabad (which we revisit each time when in that city) never ceases to amaze with its sheer complexity within its (deceptive) simplicity while Stephane Paumier's Alliance Francaise of Lodhi Road draws one back to every event one can attend there - if only to enjoy those spaces and details once again.

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