Interview: Niroop Kumar Reddy, Founder and Principal Architect of NA Architects

Tete-A-Tete with Experts Dated:  Aug. 4, 2015
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Architect Niroop Kumar Reddy

NIROOP REDDY is founder of multi disciplinary firm na architects with head office at Hyderabad and branch offices in Bangalore and Dubai. His work is bold, eclectic and fresh, his approach uncluttered. NIROOP is representative of a new generation of architects who draw inspiration from art in its many forms. Throughout his career he has designed and finished numerous residential,commercial,retail and industrial projects in India, Dubai and Myanmar. He has led master planning of large residential private housing projects and their present focus is on more green building projects.

Niroop Reddy has received around 16 awards from different institutes and organizations in india in the field of architecture and interior design.

Please tell us something about you as an architect and you as a person?

As a person, I am a fun loving family man and a doting father of two children. I spend most of my free time at home with my children and enjoy occasional hangouts with my buddies. I am very lucky because I get to spend some substantial amount of quality time with my life and career partner Rupana at work. Best of both worlds.
As an Architect or as a Designer I am still in a continuous process evolution and trying to find inspiration from various sources. I draw inspiration from my affinity to nature — and an affinity to life itself. The preliminary ideas are manifestations of a process absorbing and applying various influences from art, history, culture and nature. I believe in what Steve Jobs said about design: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. DESIGN IS HOW IT WORKS.”

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What is your design philosophy?

Personally for me for me, design marks out a vision for what can be; the act of Designing is to move with intent to close the gap between existing conditions and that vision. Be it Interior or Architecture, to me Good Design is an ongoing process of decisions and strategies that enable innovation and create effectively-designed spaces and create environments that enhance functionality and quality of life.

As a firm, our design philosophy is about letting the principles of sound design guide us to bring together light, space, materials, form and function, environment and blending them with the Client’s design preferences and timelines.  Our job is about creating, enabling myself and our team to bring that harmony in, work within the given limitations, and come up with a comprehensive design solution that satisfies and excites the client from a  visual, functional, creative and budgetary aspect as well. We seek to link design, creativity, innovation, technology, management and customers to provide advantage and value across economic, social, cultural, and environmental factors.

How would you define your signature style?

The genesis of our firm itself was based on the fact that we consciously wanted to move away from a signature

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and offer clients variety and unique creative solutions. Rather than focusing on a signature style, we pride ourselves on “Our Signature Ability”, our ability to reach beyond our comfort zone, readiness to challenge ourselves and always aim at incorporating latest ideas, concepts and technologies into the client requirements and to be able to deliver our services in collaborative, creative and open association with our clients.

To elaborate, I believe we put a premium on thoroughly understanding our clients’ requirements, put to use our highly motivated design and execution team to come up with the best use of space, time and resources to transform a space into a unit that blends the creative, aesthetics, utility and also bring in influences from art, culture, technology- all the while keeping an eye on sustainability and value for the money. This is something that you will see in many of the projects that we handled.

What challenges you?

Being an Architect is a really interesting job.  It's rare that you do the exact same thing week to week, especially as you get more experience.It's a creative and challenging job.  There is some actual design involved, like making a building look nice, but there are so many other challenges, such as meeting a client's needs and wishes while also meeting building and accessibility codes and their budget and schedule.  It's making all the required rooms fit into an existing building or area of a building.

House Exterior ViewHouse Exterior View - Cantilever House

Clients change their minds.  Sometimes it is a challenge to make them visualize your concept and how it will shape up in the end.  They have hard time deciding one way or the other, then there are times that you think, only if the clients understand why could not be ready when they snap their fingers.  But all these challenges put that extra thrill when you finally turn the vision into reality, and positively affect their living/working space.

At the end of the day, what you do as an architect really matters.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see the occupants’ faces light up when they walk into the building I designed and get all excited about their new space, talking about the light coming in and wondering how big the spaces are now!  It's incredible,even after almost 12 years, to watch the lines you draw become wood and stone and carpet and drywall and reality.  It's like a miracle unfolds on every project.

Which has been your toughest project so far? Why?

My toughest job was designing official Camp House and Residence for Honorable chief minister of A.P. at the age of 28 years. It was dream come true for me especially as I wanted to bag that project. It was very tough because the deadline for completion of the project was 6 months with a built up areas (Camp Office- 26000 sft and Residence -32000 sft) from design to completion of project with landscaping. At young age of 28 handling top bureaucrats and chief minister himself with their requirements in design and schedule was a Hercules task I could have ever dreamt off.

We have achieved our task of completing the project not only on time but with all elements implemented in the plans as per the requirements of then Chief Minister. After completing this project we were awarded the renovation of chief minister office in the secretariat also. This was the first major break in our short career from where we had no look back till today.

When did you start your practice? How has the journey been like?
My journey started after I graduated from college of Architecture in Chennai and started out as an junior architect with an architectural firm in 1999 in Hyderabad. During the initial 2 to 3 years, I came to realize that a holistic design service offering is missing in Hyderabad. Those were the days when Architectural Service firms were specializing in niche offerings. For instance, clients would go to Firm X for Interior Designing, or had to go to Firm Y if they wanted to incorporate domes and arches in your building.

Early in my career, during our long conversations about growth and career plans, I used to discuss these things at home.  As an outcome of our conversations and through constructive inputs and motivation that my partner in life and career, Rupana provided, we collectively dreamt of creating a firm that provides state of the art, turnkey architectural, structural and Interior Design services for residential, retail and commercial projects.I knew that although having one's own business is difficult, it is often the only way to do things your own way, particularly in a creative field.Hyderabad was long overdue for a construction industry growth and had a space for new ideas and concepts in architecture  and interior design. Hence we made the plunge, and branched out with our own practice in 2002.

In the initial days of starting out as an independent A&ID firm, the competition present in the market, and resistance to try out new Architects were the main challenges we faced, and in our sincere efforts to break into this market and the experience we gathered in the due process have contributed the most to where we are today.

Let’s face it. Our continuous efforts and conscious attempts to differentiate ourselves from a Design ethos and concepts perspective had contributed to where we stand today. Also evident is the fact that our ability, success and track record of attracting and retaining a highly skilled team of our own resources in A&D, execution and support and third party vendors is also one of the key factors that contributed to where we are now. You cannot emphasize enough, the importance of a core team that collaborates and works together across a long period of time.

Could you elaborate on your AICA award winning project - H2O?

H2O HOUSE AS ITS CALLED- The main entrance door with double height illusion and projecting vertical wall along with cantilevered roof seems like holding the entire façade together. The large balcony projections forming a visual connection with the linear cantilevered infinity pool on the second floor.

The 8” thick cantilever slab on the terrace floor level has a circular puncture (12’ in diameter). This void helps to manipulate and break the monotonous of the massing in the elevation, contrasting the lines of contemporary elevation this circular void blends with the projecting nature of the balconies.

Master BedroomMaster Bedroom with Couch - The H2O House

The concept was to allow maximum day light and create connection between exterior and interior spaces..
The  glass elevator in the double height water body and greenery behind the staircase and powder room that blurs the boundary between inside and outside. It also forms a visual connection with formal living room. a semi- minimalist approach in design is manipulated to create very simple interiors which balances with the surrounding nature.

Entering the house through pivoted door, the hallway is large showing depth and character of house.

The focal point of the house is the double height water body with Swarovski embedded concrete wall, self ventilated and green pockets within the house.

The formal lounge overlooks the garden with backlit stretch fabric ceiling and Fendi sofas.

The master bedroom’s ceiling designed in corian gives the illusion of contoured layering. The wooden ceiling continues on to the wall with soft wall leather panels.

The girl bedroom’s ceiling in corian has backlit floral pattern. Semi curved headboard of the bed and specially designed floral fabric hanging lights.

The boy’s bedroom corian ceiling in ripple pattern that gives illusion of galaxy space on the ceiling. Wardrobe with curvy linear pattern creates illusion when seen through the mirror.. 

Solar panels are provided on second floor terrace to generate its own electricity.

What is your vision for NA Architects?

To become a destination A&D firm for creating environmentally friendly,  sustainable design concepts and bring Indian design influences and ethos into international projects within the Indian sub-continent and GCC Countries. Become a Go-To firm for alternative design approaches in addition to the contemporary west influenced designs. 

House Exterior ViewHouse Exterior View - Cantilever House

Who are the people you admire the most?

There are quite a few people I admire for various aspects of life. But coming to my profession, during my formative professional years I always admired two architects and practitioners of design for different aspects of Design.

  • American architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) for his expert use of light and space to create favorable dwellings no matter how large the actual buildings were. He also paid attention to the functionality of the rooms within a building and many called him poetic and philosophical when viewing his creations. An example is IIM (Ahmedabad) campus and building designed by Kahn.
  • F.L.Wright - Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This philosophy was best exemplified by Falling water (1935), which has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture". Wright was a leader of the movement of architecture and developed the concept of the Usonian home, his unique vision for urban planning in the United States.

How would you like the world to recognize you?

As an Architect who brought back influences of art, technology, history and environment into the design function and created a sustainable approach for creative A&D keeping the client’s requirements always front and center

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