Manish Gulati

Tete-A-Tete with Experts Dated:  April 7, 2014
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Architect: Manish Gulati

With so much of nervousness and excitement I landed at the M:OFA office to meet the young and vivacious Mr. Manish Gulati. His office is as lively as the architect himself. The colorful setting of his office is as chic as I had imagined while going through his profile earlier. The ambience reflected grandeur with wood all around.  He believes in Green architecture i.e. use of products which comply with the environment and believes in maximum utilization of natural sources of energy like solar heater. Here is a brief account of what I managed to find out about his architectural style and journey till now.

You are a proud alumnus of CEPT, Ahmadabad. Any special memories?

I passed out in 1999 from there, before joining CEPT, I did not have much idea of what design is. So it was an overall development of mine from the perspective of art, culture and development field. I learnt a lot there. CEPT focuses on overall growth, your cultural growth, your scientific growth. They have a very open teaching system. So apart from our architectural studies, we had classes on Music, art, theatre. And those were the things which helped us a lot to open up our thought process and we did it for 5 years. After that I went for an exchange programme to Zurich and travelled Europe extensively to get idea of designs from various cultures and taking inspirations form them. Though it was a part of the course, it helped a lot for one's overall development. 

What was the driving factor for you to take up architecture for your career?

It was way back in my high School itself that I decided to go for it.

Is there any incident related to it?

No nothing actually. It was from my childhood that I loved building sculptures and clay models. I was actively involved in art and culture. I had that urge to create something different and not just create a sculpture but something which will help the humanity. I wanted to fulfill the need of the people. What architects design pretty much changes the future of generations to come.

So does participating and winning competitions a motivating factor in your next projects to come?

That’s not the reason, the main driving force that I do good work is not just that the work gets duly recognized. Driving force is to do good projects, making your clients happy and thinking out of the box. I don’t believe in doing wasteful projects, I believe in sustainable projects, doing environment friendly projects, saving energy, saving water resources etc. So whether we get an award or don’t get an award does not matter for us.

Any project which is very special to you?

Every project is special to me. We have done more than 130 projects now and every one of them has a memory to cherish. Even sipping a cup of tea with the workers is cherished since its from the beginning till the end that we are involved with them in the project.

So what is different in your style of designing?

We are a very holistic firm. The same approach is not taken on every site. We take inspiration from the environment and the culture around. Every design is different.

In every field technology is changing. What is the biggest challenge you have faced with this ever developing technology?

While talking of technology, it’s very slow in India. We have worked in various parts of India, but when we are working in smaller cities, the people there are not that advanced and we have to draw minutest of details for them that even a layman would understand. We have hundreds of sketches done for them. We have to educate them of what we want for the end product.

There are many environment friendly projects that you have done. Even your website has green as the dominating color!!

Green means not wasting resources. It means saving nature, saving financial resources. Sustainability does not mean that you have ticked a few greenhouse points and got a green certificate. Green means your building has to show that it is saving the resources, it’s not wasting water or energy resources. It is taking care of cultural aspects too. All of these are taken care of in our projects, along with financial aspect. Financial sustainability is the biggest challenge to have on a project.

Earlier you were known as GSA, so how did the name M:OFA come up?

Every business has to go through a growth process and this is one of the growth processes we had through this journey. We are the same designers, just with a different name now.

Message for the young architects!

They need to be inspired and have inspiration. They need to think out of the box. This profession requires a lot of patience. So determination and patience play a major role in inspiring you through the growth process. You cannot give up fast, you fall and get up - this is what is required. Being a designer is not easy; it’s one of the hardest professions in India. And it’s the focus that is important. If you want something, you must try hard and achieve it.

            

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