As a school kid, Hafeez Contractor considered himself to be quite mediocre. His first exposure to the world of design and architecture was at his uncle’s architectural firm, where his innate sense of design was discovered. “Before that, I wanted to join the army,” he remembers. An alumnus of Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, he went on to receive his post-graduate degree from Columbia University, New York.
When he founded Architect Hafeez Contractor (AHC) in 1982, it was a modest three-person office dedicated to design excellence, efficient delivery and sophistication in building technology as its hallmarks. Today, the establishment has expanded to a wholesome team strength of 550, successfully designing and executing works for clients such as real estate developers, public sector undertakings, large corporations and institutions for healthcare entrepreneurs.
Through almost 45 years of his flourishing and famed practice, his constant belief is that architecture should be honest and respond to the spirit of the time, characterised by distinct ideas, disparate missions, contrasting convictions, and divergent preferences. His design philosophy is not restricted to one — but varies from project to project, construction sites, clients’ demand, budget, etc. He asserts, “I am an architect who always feels that the need of a client is of paramount significance, as it comes out of necessity; and my role is to satisfy that need rationally.”
Favouring green construction, he says, “I’m not against the green building construction or development. My only concern is that green or sustainable construction means not just to use energy-efficient building materials and products in your projects, but it should also be in your design. The emphasis should be on a judicious use of land to save it as much as possible. After all, once exhausted, land cannot be produced or replenished.”
Architects should design for today, keeping the future in mind — this is the mantra by which AHC functions. “Change is the only constant. People are more accepting of innovative ideas and are ready to experiment. Also, since new materials have come, construction is faster.” Therefore, demands and the design briefs have also evolved at a fast pace and, as AHC believes, it is important to adapt.

Looking Back

AHC is proud of Vastu Building, Mumbai for its unorthodox flamboyant form; Osho Ashram, Pune for its pure simplistic nature; DLF Phase 5, Gurgaon for being an urban green oasis; Infosys Campus, Mysore with its striking Software Development Blocks and Hiranadani Gardens, Powai for being a classical style township in Mumbai.

Looking forward

The firm has been working on a project they call ‘A house for every Indian’, which they hope can be a reality soon. It aims at providing affordable housing for all by bringing down costs by means of unconventional designs, policy recommendations, new construction technologies and innovative use of materials.

 

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