Interview: In Conversation with Ar. Sourabh Gupta, Managing Director at Studio Archohm

Tete-A-Tete with Experts Dated:  Oct. 9, 2017
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Courtesy Studio Archohm

Sourabh Gupta is an architect, based in Noida and is among the prominent proponents of sustainability. He achieved a Masters in Urban Design from Technical University, Delft, at the Netherlands. Following its inception in 1999 in India with a design competition, Archohm launched its studio in the Netherlands in 2002 and Libya in 2009 for operating in the middle east. His work aims to build architecture that is climatically and contextually relevant. Archohm therefore, stands for a young, mad and fun approach to spatiality, that employs a play of light, volumes and materials.
In conversation with ZingyHomes, leading Ar. Sourabh Gupta discusses the many facets of culture, heritage, and his works. 

Several projects designed by you build around themselves, an intangible aura of a timeless frame displaying the nuances of present. What draws you to such commissions?

Majority of the design and architecture in India either apes the west or is absolutely rooted in traditional nostalgia. Architects and designers have a responsibility to reflect the times in which they live. It is essential to define the Indian Contemporary, and that is something I seek and would love to see. Having said that, architecture projects have to stand the test of time and hence timelessness is essential. 

Studio Archohm, Courtesy André J Fanthome

Archohm has been derived from architecture and ohm - the term used for electrical resistance. Can you elaborate on the thoughts which made you devise this terminology?

Archohm’s arch stands for architecture and ohm stands for the ohm of the ohm’s law - owing to the electrical engineering expertise that we have in-house since the day we started. 

Describe the evolution in your work from your early stage in career uptill today.

Archohm is a versatile firm where design has always been the main focus. Today the firm has evolved into a well known design practice with projects and initiatives addressing a wide array of issues, scales and typologies. From master planning of cities to designing their street signage, from farmer markets to cultural haats, hospitals to hospitality, riverfronts to residential projects,  Archohm has ventured into almost every typology of projects with ‘design’ as its main focus making it versatile in nature. Its portfolio now spans across a diversity of sectors which include large public, social, educational, religious and cultural institutions. 

Concept sketch of Amphitheater at Dilli Haat, Courtesy Studio Archohm

It is seen that you pursue sustainability in the design and build of major of your projects for instance, the Dilli Haat and Meri Dilli Office. Could you share some notes on it?

I feel every project in this world should be sustainable in terms of it being environmentally conscious, socially conscious, contextually relevant and culturally sensitive. As an architect, every building you build should be built responsibly, hence must be green. 

Meri Dilli Office, Courtesy André J Fanthome

What is your take on heritage and architecture? In what way is heritage reflected in architecture?

Preserving one’s heritage means recognising the very necessity of relating to one's past, of the stories it has to tell and the role it plays in the present. This preserved past never remains static, rather is in a constant state of change. So in reality, what is, is not, what once was. This change is the value addition that watch of the subsequent generations adds to its past. Heritage needs to be respected and modern interventions should be used to highlight and exhibit its cultural rootedness. 

Dilli HaatDilli Haat, Courtesy André J Fanthome

Culture integrates the society, which is the aim of public architecture as well. Having designed several built and unbuilt public projects,what is your dialogue on the relation between culture and architecture? 

Undoubtedly, the dialogue between the past and the present is critical. At one level I say architecture needs to be taken seriously because it’s relevant to the culture and time we live in but I also want to keep it fun and light. So something that is relevant to today’s context but is still grounded enough to be giving you the concept of time and culture is what is usually done in terms of public projects. 

A built fabric from around the nation, which you personally admire.

It has to be Fatehpur Sikri. 

A recent architectural event, based in capital was held over a theme – Designing for diversified India. Can you present your views over how a nation, with varied cultures, climate and other factors should cater to architecture?

Due to globalization, public architecture and public spaces get dominated by a multitude of global brands and names like McDonalds etc., which ensure that spaces around the world start looking alike. Quite contrastingly, the local seller-the artisan is struggling to hold his ground in such a scenario. Hence the issue of retaining the region’s identity becomes a crucial one. The diverse backgrounds of a city’s inhabitants, also give rise to challenges of pursing a cohesive cultural identity, historical legitimacy, and the dialogue between global and local evolution. A focus and preservation of cultural layers and narratives but in contemporary contexts, is therefore seen as an evident direction for this realm. 

Quick bytes over recent developments from your firm.

A few projects are underway - Sanskriti school at Lucknow. We have redveloped the old city of Lucknow recently, the Mughal Museum in Agra and the Taj Orientation centre are still under construction. Besides this, we have initiated a new wing on travel called - tours india. These are design and architecture tours across the world for students, teachers, professionals and enthusiasts.

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