What began as an experiment soon laid the foundation for an inspiring practice. Manish Banker’s creative inputs for a friend’s house, particularly his suggestion that the design be approached from the inside out, not only resulted in a cozy retreat that was appreciated by his friend’s family but also landed him a project — thus laying the foundation of Tao Architecture in 1994. “My first project integrated architecture, interiors and landscape, resulting in a coherent living space, connecting the inhabitants with their natural environment, an experimental solution that would continue to evolve and mature over the coming years,” says the alumnus of Institute of Environmental Design, Gujarat, who put down roots in Pune while working with The Osho Commune International.
Banker sees architecture as a device to connect man with nature, “and ultimately with himself.” An ideology that he has successfully replicated all over the country. However, each project is unique to its context. “In Pune, the climatic conditions (are) suitable for opening out the architecture toward the landscape by incorporating transitional and adaptable spaces. However, when our clients in Jodhpur asked for a similar architectural language in their city, we (adopted) a fresh approach towards the ‘intexterior’ context, in keeping with the climatic challenges faced in Rajasthan,” he explains.
Besides positive spatial experiences, the firm lays emphasis on sustainability in terms of resource management, building operations and maintenance, and the conservation of natural environment. “We have tried to refine our approach and process to greater levels of efficiency,” shares the architect. And with clients, friends, as well as state and country-wide design associations (“our projects have been awarded by the AESA Pune, IIID and IIA”), all commending their efforts, we know that in keeping with their philosophy, they are positively transforming the built-environment in the country.
Success has been possible because “the realisation and correction of a failure” is of utmost importance to the growth of a design practice, according to the architect. “We would urge fellow designers to not make the mistake of ‘not making’ mistakes’!” He also urges peers and young students to value our design heritage, while being open to new technology, materials and methods. “Moreover, be observant of the huge knowledge bank of architecture and space psychology all around, in the form of people and their interaction with space.”

Looking Back

The ‘Nest’ residence was an exploration into materials, art, furniture and landscape, resulting in a hierarchy of various interconnected spaces, all interwoven with nature and the landscape. “In residential projects of this lavish scale, the primary goal is of achieving harmonious human-nature interaction,” discloses Banker.

Looking forward

Tao is enthused about a residential bungalow, where the entire roof is an interconnected garden dropping to the ground at strategic points, while connecting all levels of the property through nature and greenery. The project, currently halfway through completion, epitomises the firm’s design philosophy.

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