Achieved a lot globally, yet remains a very private and understated South Bombayite. With his classic sensibilities, he is an avid traveller, known more in Milan or Italy than within his own turf. That is Sanjay Puri, the world renowned architect for you.
Brand in himself
Sanjay is a brand in himself and he is the only Indian Architect to will 33 coveted international awards. In fact, he is the only person in the world to have won three awards at MIPIM in March 2013.
The MIPIM is the equivalent of the Cannes in the field of architecture and design. Sanjay’s project, ‘DCaves’ in Hyderabad has won ‘The Most Sustainable Hotel in the World’ at the A+ Awards in New York last year as well.
Sanjay Puri and Associates, his firm is known not just for interesting designs, but also for contextual architecture. For instance, 72 screens in Jaipur takes its inspiration from the old traditional ‘jali’ screens of the architectural heritage of the region sheats the building on all sides further reducing the heat gain and rendering the building very energy efficient.
Also, the Courtyard House in Rajasthan is relatively large house, due to the client requirements, is designed in response to the desert climate of its location and is built sustainably with natural ventilation being facilitated throughout the house and minimised heat gain to increase its energy efficiency.
Few of his most prominent projects include the Chrome Hotel in Kolkata, DCaves Hotel in Hyderabad, H Hotel Lucknow, The Courtyard House in Rajasthan and more. Sanjay was also in the news lately for the Bombay Arts Society, which was launched in October last year.
Globally, the firm’s biggest and most noteworthy projects include the Chapel at Murcia in Spain and Teresa 153 in Montenegro. Sanjay, not known in many social circles in India has been featured in over 200 international publications.
Story behind the Enigma
It is not every day that one gets to be in the presence of sheer creative genius, which is nothing short of inspiring. One such personality is Sanjay Puri, who has silently but surely been working his way to become the leader in architecture and design in the country.
In an exclusive interview with Jayashankar Menon, the globally renowned Architect sheds more light on his education, growing up and rising to international fame. Excerpts:
JM: Can you talk about your education and the eventual beginning of your tryst with Architecture?
SP: After finishing my graduation from Mayo College, I went on to pursue my dream of becoming an Architect and studied from the illustrious Academy of Architecture, Mumbai. My tryst with Architecture began at an early age and my formal training in the subject which gave me the means to channel my creativity in a productive manner. Like all creative minds, I find inspiration everywhere. Of course my biggest inspiration and something that I turn turns to even today is ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. This novel that is one of the greatest books of our times revolves around the life of the protagonist, an Architect who is so driven that he would rather struggle than compromise on his artistic vision. This is the mantra that I follow till today and is the thing that sets me apart from other Architects.
JM: Can you talk about your earlier career?
SP: I began my career by working under the Master Architect of my time: Hafeez Contractor, who taught me a lot of what I know on the subject. Subsequently, I went on to establish my own firm and in 1992 Sanjay Puri Architects was born. From then on there was no looking back. Today I am at the forefront, leading my impressive team of more than 72 employees in several projects in India and around the world.
JM: Your avant-garde architectural style is truly unique and a true expression of your creativity. What is the essence of your design theory?
SP: The essence of my design theory is creating innovative design spaces that are contextual but at the same time sustainable. The main aim is to evoke an exhilarating experience while infusing functionality effectively.
JM: Today you are the leading architect in the country with a name in India as well as overseas. You are the only architect worldwide to win awards in three categories at the latest MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards in France. Besides this you have also bagged over 33 international awards and numerous national awards garnering fame for yourself and your firm. How can you still be simple and down to earth?
SP: By nature, I am quite a simple and straightforward man, and do not believe in unnecessary embellishments on buildings. I prefer to focus on the form of the structure and pay more attention to the way the building feels and not just how it looks. I also do not look like a man who will allow success to go to my head and has managed to remain humble and unassuming in spite of having appeared in over 200 international publications and being a speaker in architectural events in Italy, Spain, Singapore, Serbia, Mexico and The Netherlands.
JM: Please describe your work?
SP: My utmost preoccupation is to evolve innovative design solutions and incorporate the geography of the location in a positive way into the design. Most of my designs have an element or principle of traditional Indian architecture that I try to imbibe in them in my own way. While designing a space, the most important thing to remember is not to hold back, to let your creativity flow undeterred. This is something that is missing in the run of the mill buildings that we see cropping up everywhere nowadays. I try to ensure that every structure I design and create is vastly different and unique from the previous one, and avoid repetition at all costs.
JM: Can you talk about Sanjay Puri Architects?
SP: Founded in 1992, Sanjay Puri Architects (SPA) today is one of the most sought after architectural and design firms in India. With a team of over 72 employees, the firm is an unmatched powerhouse of design. SPA has an extensive design portfolio that includes architectural and interior design projects in fields like hospitality, commercial, retail, educational and entertainment facilities as well as large urban projects and town planning. Currently we are involved in designing over 100 projects in 40 cities across India as well as projects in Montenegro, Spain, UAE and Mauritius.
SPA have won 34 International awards including the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design’s International Architecture Awards 2012 & 2011, the World Architecture Festival Awards 2012, 2011 & 2010 , nine MIPIM Architectural Review Future Project Awards & 5 World Architecture Community Awards, UK and two Hospitality Design, New York Awards. We also have innumerable national awards to our credit.
Some of the firm’s most notable projects include the Chrome Hotel in Kolkata, D Caves Hotel Hyderabad, D Hotel Lucknow, 72 Screens Jaipur, The Courtyard house Rajasthan and Bombay Arts society. Internationally the firm’s biggest and most noteworthy projects are the Chapel at Murcia Spain and Teresa 153 in Montenegro.