Sumeet Saxena

Tete-A-Tete with Experts Dated:  April 6, 2014
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Architect: Sumeet Saxena

Sumeet Saxena,  an architect with years of experience talks about his approach towards projects in detail. After having handled multiple projects in a row, he has gained a designing edge that reflects in his work. I walked into his office while he was working on his laptop, sketching a layout of his new project. 

Here are few questions that I asked him during my short visit to his place. 

Going through your profile, we came to know that you have started your practice in 1993 or 94!!

It was 1994 when we started and since then we are doing various types of work including architecture and interiors. We take up all types of projects- we prefer working on multiple project categories like hotels, resorts, residential and commercial complexes, retail interiors, corporate interiors, schools, colleges, cafés and restaurants. 

And what you enjoy the most, what’s your favourite design?

It’s very difficult to say, I am in love with interior designing and architecture both, there is nothing specific. The field is vast and we basically like to do good design- that’s the main aim of our practice. Even we prefer doing environment sustainable buildings and this is very important aspect; I would say. You keep on building up structures; you go on eating up the earth, so at least those structures need to be sensitive to the environment and to the culture you are building whrerein. Besides these we also see whether they are sensitive to the climate and are compatible with it.

When did the architecture bug bite you? 

Actually my dad is also an architect and from very childhood I was into designing, arts and crafts. I used to do sketches and was fascinated by my dad’s work. That’s how I got into architecture. 

You have done lot of projects with major specifications. What is that major aspect you look into before taking up any project? We have gone through your projects- the schools done in Gaziabad and hospitals build up in remote areas and it seems like your designs are very much inspired from the culture around. You love to give the traditional touch to it. How do you decide?

When a project comes up, there are a couple of things which we try to keep in mind. First comes the context where we are building and then we decide to use the inspirations from the ancient cultures- historical buildings like palaces, havelis, monuments etc. They used to have robust ventilations, better shading devices; however, in modern times you need to incorporate old elements in the modern buildings. It’s more like a blend of new with the old. For instance, Hawa Mahal used to have jaalis to protect you from the harsh sun and at the same time it also provided good ventilation; this type of research study will help you in determining the climatic aspects of your project.

Every field is evolving drastically. Even in architecture there is contemporary, modern and now ultra modern, so what is the drastic change you have noticed working with all these kind of designs and requirement of clients?

See,  these days there are a couple of things which demands more attention and requires consideration. Vastu is one of them. We need to take care of these aspects while building residential/commercial complexes. So with Vastu there are green buildings which are water efficient and energy efficient so that in a way it helps the environment at least. We make the best use of eco-friendly materials. For instance, we prefer using UPVC windows instead of wood .So overall there’s a lot of saving.

How do you keep a check on it??

I keep a check on it while designing these things in pace, you talk to the client also you inform them of these options for their projects and get things in place.

Which project is close to your heart??

There is nothing specific here. Every project that we undertake is close to my heart. It takes time in development and building up a complete structure is not easy. Even an interior project varies from 6 months to a year. But still there’s this project- a cottage at Kosambi, which have come out very well and yes, not to mention, there are a lot of things which you want to do but the clients won’t let you. It was challenging, yet exciting. 

So how do you deal with it??

We tried hard to influence the client and finally convinced him the way we wanted. Again, this wasn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. This is how we get things done accordingly.

Is this the only challenge you face??

Talking of challenges, achieving a good finishing is a major concern. It greatly depends upon people working on that building. The contractors, labours and other people, you need to educate them about the finishing quality you are trying to achieve. At the end of the day, it’s quality that matters. 

Ok, now a personal question how is the bonding with your partner Vishakha going since the start of your firm Atrium Architects??

Uhh..! We try to keep our projects separate. Though we discuss about various complications and resolve each other’s issues when needed.Also, there are lot of creative and design aspects while doing building and interiors.

So how do you go for it? Do you get the things from market or you do the customization yourself??

There are few things we prefer selecting from the market. But besides these, there are certain things we prefer customizing depending upon customer’s requirement. For instance, if a building requires some kind of a light heating, we design it in the first place and then get it fabricated from elsewhere. 

What drives you to continue in this field and taking up challenges?? 

I always want to design something nice, something different all the time which is usually appreciated and keeping all those things in mind, I keep looking forward. I try to learn from the mistakes and try to achieve better next time.

Since it’s a very competitive field and students do get frustrated at one point so what would be the message you would like convey to the budding architects?

Actually, understanding of the entire thing takes a lot of time. Also, there is lack of good education in whole lot of these institutions and hence, they don’t get that exposure and knowledge back. All they require is to brainstorm while walking down the streets and keep looking at the buildings, learn from them.. Also, while training such students we see they lack these aspects a lot. So I would rather suggest them to observe past buildings, learn and gain some knowledge.

Last but not the least what is the must have for you while sitting down on the sketching board?

For me nice sketching pens are enough. I put colours on it and keep on putting it to those ideas while sketching.

 

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