Hiren Patel’s work motto hasn’t changed since he established his practice, Hiren Patel Architects (HPA) in 1990; it has always been “hard work is fun”. And even now, after almost 30 years of being an independent design practitioner, he says he wants to “work, work, work and work.” A graduated of CEPT — “one of the finest architectural schools across the globe”, he started off solo with a few real estate projects and interior design assignments. “Both were looked down upon then… but for me, work was work. I told myself, if I don’t do it, someone else, maybe (someone) less educated, will, and overall, the city will not gain anything good.” So he persisted.
It was tough, but he proved to be resilient. From architectural and interior design projects — which sensitised him to smaller details — his firm forayed into renovation and hospitality segments when they got the opportunity to work on renovation of heritage properties. Then came landscaping and landscape design. A small sample house designed with beautiful landscaping was a lesson in the impact of the surroundings on a space. “It was an open house… and people loved it. I often wondered why. It brought new wisdom to me. Another landscaping major was a township undertaken for a spiritual sect.
I realised that was the right approach to design; all the dots connected well. Apart from this, my fondness for art remains an integrated part of the projects we undertake. Now we are exploring urban and town planning (projects),” reveals the architect who values work process greatly. “It has to be honest even if you fail in design,” he says.
While the architect says he is still in the learning stage, there is one thing he’d like to teach design students of today: “Do only the best. I love giving keynote presentations on this aspect,” says the founder of HPA. There’s something else the leader of “a small but sensitive practice” would like to share with the design fraternity. “Never take any project as unwanted. Take criticism as a way to learn. People may criticise your work but don’t let that get you down. Be courageous, come out of the Third World mentally and do international work with absolute pride in Indian regionality.”

Looking Back

Small apartment projects have given Patel more satisfaction than sprawling villas, as they have had a larger impact on society and future generations. For example, the architect included a social kitchen and a garage band space in housing projects in the hope of motivating a child to become a musician or a master chef.

Looking forward

The architect is greatly excited about a community centre project that he and his team are currently working on in France, an assignment that, he tells us, is “full of positive vibes.”

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