Ar. Sanjay Puri of the celebrated Sanjay Puri Architects speaks to Sapna Sarfare about his voyage into the field of architecture, views on his field & its concept, struggles, projects and more.
Some names will always stand out and influence not just those in their field but also those outside their field. Ar. Sanjay Puri of Sanjay Puri Architects is one such name. In the world of architecture, Mumbai-based Ar. Puri has become THE person for designing structures and more that stand apart.
In fact, Sanjay Puri Architects has been included amongst the top global 100 architects by Archdaily and Architizer, New York to lists his firm in their list of 136 top global design firms. The lists of awards won individually and by the firm are countless. His firm has bagged over 225 awards including 150 international awards and 80 National awards. The awards in the last decade include the World Architecture Festival’s Best Housing Project of theYear 2018 in Amsterdam, World’s Best Residential Building in the LEAF Awards, London, 7 Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design’s International Architecture Awards, 10 World Architecture Festival Awards, 10 Society of American Registered Architects Awards (SARA), New York, 19 WA Community Awards UK and 3 Hospitality Design Awards New York.
Sanjay Puri Architects has managed to bag projects worldwide (Spain, Montenegro, Mauritius, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Montreal, Oman and Dallas to name a few) and also in 40 Indian cities. One is impressed by the varied portfolio of townships, schools, hotels, and retail and office buildings. What the firm looks in terms of projects or quests is to offer ground-breaking design solutions which will be sustainable on a longer run.
This 72 people strong firm provides appropriate design solutions and crafts revolutionary spaces providing out-of-the-world experiences but sticking to the firm’s design philosophy. And that is why the firm has been able to build a diverse portfolio of urban planning, residential, commercial, hospitality, retail, offices, and cultural, religious and institutional projects. Ar. Puri’s journey in his field needs to be read and understood. If asked speak about his background and education, Ar. Puri mentions studying in Mayo College, Ajmer after which he studied in Mumbai’s prestigious St. Xaviers College. But a book by Ayn Rand changed his life. “Reading The Fountainhead at 16 made me want to be an architect. My first job began on my 18th birthday when I joined Hafeez Contractor who instilled in me the belief that one could achieve what one wants if one tries hard enough amongst all the other knowledge that he imparted to me.”
Ar. Puri took his next step towards making his architectural dreams into reality. “I took admission in The Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, after already having visited numerous sites and making all kinds of drawings from presentation to working drawings. I continued to work through all five years of college and was made an associate at 23 even before my college results were declared.” That is how dedication gives you the required fruits of success. Ar. Puri’s entry into the world of architecture was motivating. He also gave great thoughts on picking his design arena. He shares the tales regarding his progress in this world. “While deciding between fine arts and advertising, I happened to read The Fountainhead at the age of 16 and my mind was firmly made up to pursue architecture. I began my practice in 1992 when I was 27 working largely with real estate developers. Thereafter we got our first break in other building typologies including hospitality, education and institutional work and are currently designing all kinds of projects from master planning of townships to individual homes.”
Any great person worth his or her salt will have some teething issues at the beginning of his or career. And it is his or her mark to solve the problem and go past it to be truly successful. “The first project I handled independently was a 400 Sq.ft office in Mumbai for Milan Supari that I did when I was 20 years old. The first project with which I opened my own office was Vasant Nagri, a 54-acre project with 3,600 apartments, a school, shopping centres and a large club. We designed the landscape, roads and streetlights and each aspect of the entire project. It was a tremendous learning experience.”
Speaking more on this, Ar. Puri shares his journey about picking up the initial projects and making them into a success. “Since we started with a large residential township of 2200,000 Sq.ft, we were commissioned for several other residential projects in Mumbai. The learning came in many ways. We understood the key aspects of residential layouts and what people desire from a home as well as a layout. We learnt how services had to be integrated, what configurations create large landscaped spaces and several other factors.” The readers will surely want to know about Ar. Puri’s major successful projects that also turned out to be his turning point. Talking about the process of making it a success can help others to deal with their shortfalls and become as successful as Ar. Puri. He confesses to having many turning points. He also talks about the one that already has become mentioned above. “The first one was at the age of 28 when I had a chance to design a 54-acre development with 3,000 apartments, school, club, shopping, temple and the entire detailed layout of roads and infrastructure as a part of the project. This project was Vasant Nagri at Vasai, Mumbai for Sheth Developers and gave me unmatched experience for designing on a larger scale and creating an entire environment. The first hotel we designed, The Mirador, was another turning point. The first large entertainment centre we designed ‘R-World’ in Ahmedabad too was a turning point. These were all turning points in terms of scale and entering into different fields of design. Turning points also happen constantly in the design approach and there was a time when juxtaposition was the key element in our designs and it turned to the fluidity and now it is more sculptural based upon contextual and sustainable design parameters.”
The chat with Ar. Puri is turning to be quite fascinating. He further mentions with great care about his architectural concepts or thoughts. Of course, with age and experience, they must have changed over the years. He has a remarkable response. “Architectural thoughts are in a constant state of flux. With every project, there is something new to be learnt. The thought process is constantly changing in many different ways integrating all that is learnt and experienced.” Ar. Puri is quite frank to talk about his strength without sounding overconfident. He also is willing to share his thoughts on what makes him so much in demand. “Looking at things differently, searching for solutions not attempted before, speed of thought & design, careful consideration of all aspects integrated into a design and taking on any challenge big or small are some of our strengths and focal ways of working. It is always a long battle, even now, to convince a client to create something new and that is the predominant challenge we are constantly trying to overcome in our quest for creating unique spaces.”
With experience and changing interest, it is but obvious that a creative person will look for different things in one’s field. Ar. Puri too is looking forward to different things in architecture at this moment. “I am looking forward to creating contextual sustainable and economical architecture that can benefit a large number of people. Building schools in rural India is one. Of those that we aspire to do and are working towards it.”
His future and dream projects are quite straightforward just like Ar. Puri. “I am looking forward to making public buildings in rural areas and creating a large museum to encourage tradition and Indian handicrafts.”
Ar. Puri is also willing to describing himself as architecture for future prospective clients. “I am an architect committed to stretching the boundaries of design by an inventive approach, cohesively weaving contextual responses, sustainability and innovative spatial perceptions together.”
While reading the responses, one can understand Ar. Sanjay Puri of Sanjay Puri Architects is such a successful person. Just following his words can be enough to help others on the same path.
The above article is a joint effort by Ideasscape & Family Interiors Magazine to promote vocal for local. The content and images have been sourced from Family Interiors Magazine.