Keen competitiveness, ambition and a go-getter attitude are traits Alok Shetty demonstrated early on in his professional life. While at Columbia University for a Master in Advanced Architectural Design, these bagged him the Lucille Smyser Lowenfish Memorial Award for Design Excellence for the Black Box Auditorium, a 250-seater auditorium created from a 40-foot shipping container. He brought the same qualities to the table when he established Bhumiputra Architecture in 2012.
“My aspiration has always been to work on projects that add value to their communities, neighbourhoods, cities, etc., based on the scale,” says Shetty. The very first project — a hospital in Jaipur — validated this thought. The assignment brought with it learnings focussed completely on efficiency of a building and ease of use for the various kinds of end-users. Over the past six years, the practice has evolved to work on projects of all scales, genres and typologies — sports infrastructure, hospitality, healthcare, schools and educational institutions, libraries and low-cost housing. However, the design philosophy has remained the same. “To work on value-driven projects and projects that will last,” says Shetty. “The evolution has been in terms of our understanding of how long, how much effort and how much patience is required to see the projects finished as we imagined them. A lot of these projects take over four years to be realised and that has been a learning experience.”
Shetty describes his practice as a “work in progress”, with a continually evolving style. “We are a very young firm… We have a long way to go but are very keen to grow.” While Bhumiputra Architecture will continue to operate in the fields of low-cost affordable housing, sanitation and infrastructure facilities for underprivileged communities, Shetty hopes the progress will continue to a point where they have a stronger impact every year. In his experience, the architect has found that patience and a cool head go a long way in streamlining work. “Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. This is a challenging profession and can test your patience,” says Shetty. “As a young architect, it requires tact and foresight to get your desired results. We have made those mistakes in the past and reacted too quickly or with emotion. I’d urge the younger or fellow architects to avoid that route.”

Looking Back

The Jaipur hospital, which marked Shetty’s professional debut, definitely moulded the philosophy of the firm, which was to work on solving problems first. Everything else was a consequence of the resolution, rather than aesthetics or anything else.

Looking forward

Two projects, a library and an airport that Bhumiputra Architecture commences work on this year, are proving to be exciting as they haven’t worked on these typologies before. Shetty is looking forward to the lessons and challenges they will bring. “Not to mention, I’m excited to showcase what we’ve come up with,” he says.

 

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