As early as 1988, Jaigopal G Rao started out on his own, passionately influenced by his interactions with Laurie Baker. His venture quickly evolved as an NGO pioneering sustainable development — a number of architects and engineers joined him and it became a ‘design-build’ group. This group broke away to create a number of now well-known groups, prominent among them Inspiration, headed by Jaigopal and his partner and wife, Latha R Jaigopal. “While the core idea still remains, the approach is now better defined and details better refined,” discloses Jaigopal.
Inspiration has proved its mettle with projects in Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and their home-state Kerala. The firm has an interdisciplinary strength in planning, architectural design, structural design, utilities design, interiors, landscape, project management, crafts and artisanal skills. Their in-house capabilities are augmented by an extensive network of eminent professionals from all over the country and abroad in a wide range of subjects — from total water management, renewable energy, bamboo construction, adaptive restoration of heritage buildings and environs, etc.
“Moving forward, we hope to trend pioneering participative and inclusive projects in the sector of sustainable built environment in varied locations and contexts,” says Latha. “We shall also continue bettering our core area of expertise in ‘design-build’ which, in context of bigger projects, would be by setting standards through small pilot interventions…” And what kind of mistakes would they urge fellow architects and/or designers to avoid within the sustainable genre? “Avoid looking at sustainable development superficially — and avoid making it a mere fad.”

Looking Back

Swa Swara, a high-end yoga retreat and spa in Gokarna, North Karnataka, brought Inspiration a number of accolades. It proved that simple local materials (laterite, coconut thatch, red oxide and terracotta), implemented with superior artisanal skills and scientific methods, can help create world-class living spaces.

Looking forward

Inspiration is working with the decision makers and community of the town of Alappuzha in coastal Kerala (Alleppey) to rejuvenate the canal network through an approach integrating water management, storm water drainage, sanitation, solid and liquid waste management, and needs of the deprived sections of the population.

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