Sensibility and sensitivity have always been the driving principles of Dean D’Cruz’s work. Before he could set up Mozaic, he worked in partnership with Gerard da Cunha under the banner of Natural Architecture for seven years. After the transition, the passion for creating sensible spaces using local materials and reinterpreting traditional architecture stayed on. He implemented these ideas early on in his low-cost home projects. Slowly, he graduated to small boutique hotels. “Since we built the homes we designed, almost acting as contractors, we gained experience in understanding the materials, their properties, costs, longevity, etc. This low-cost approach, along with a high degree of personlisation for each house, gave us the experience to work with different design approaches,” discloses D’Cruz. His projects moved from residential to hospitality and institutional in a seamless manner from there on.
Each project was built on some key principles: relying on local materials and craftsmanship, or being experimental without getting anchored to a fixed vocabulary. His architecture has now evolved, moving away from an enclosed sculptural approach to lighter, pavilion-like solutions. “In this amazing climate that we have in most parts of India and for most times of the year, it seems a pity not to use our open spaces. (Instead we) hole ourselves in air-conditioned boxes while all we need is passive cooling/warming systems,” he contends.
Maintaining an experimental approach and pushing the boundaries of design is what makes the profession joyous for D’Cruz, an alumnus of Sir JJ College of Architecture. “Most architects tend to get stuck in a style and one can almost figure the name of the architect by simply seeing a building. While such architects may be masters at what they do, there is a certain joy in trying something new.”
As the Design Chair at the Goa College of Architecture, D’Cruz is also passionate about architectural education — it’s essential that professionals actively contribute to design education, he believes. “We have recently constructed a new building (The Design Centre) that is running workshops, anchoring lectures, organising exhibitions, promoting design dialogue and engaging in local social/environmental issues.” He encourages an advocacy approach, inviting architects to use their visionary skills to influence change.
The architect would like to encourage fellow creatives to spend enough time envisioning a project, going through options and possibilities before freezing on a design. “One usually dives straight into design and construction with little exploration, but it is important to take the views of other professionals and end users. The rigorous design processes that one sees in parallel design professions, like product design, is what we miss as architects, and with the enormous impact that our buildings can have on people, we should place a bigger responsibility on our methodologies.”

Looking Back

The boutique hotel Nilaya, rated as one of the 100 best small hotels in the world, brought Mozaic into the limelight and opened up opportunities in other locations, allowing their creativity and expression to flourish. “Nilaya’s free-flowing lines and organic character had a freshness that is lacking in today’s angular space definers,” explains D’Cruz.

Looking forward

Mozaic is most thrilled about completing an on-going house project that is completely prefab, has a low footprint and is off-the-grid, running on DC power. It will also recycle water in the premises and grows its own food. Architecturally, it is designed with strong visual connection to maintain family bonds.

 

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