As practitioners and teachers, both Manisha Agarwal and Shantanu Poredi, co-founders and principal architects of MO-OF/Mobile Offices, believe that the future of design depends on the symbiotic relationship between academia and architectural practice. Their own grounding is thanks to CEPT, Ahmedabad, the foundation on which Agarwal and Poredi started their studio in 2001, after completing their masters at Cornell, New York, and Architectural Association, London, respectively.
Their practice began with aplomb, with the duo winning a national open competition to master plan and construct the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya campus in Wardha, a 212-acre site envisioned to accomodate 3,000 students, complete with housing for them, the faculty and staff. As the firm grew, they continued to participate in competitions regularly and engaged with varied genres of work. As the time cycle of architectural projects is much longer, MO-OF found the opportunity to simultaneously work on art installations/exhibitions and interior projects at multiple scales. The firm today has completed projects in various program categories such as educational campus, hospitality, residential communities, offices, exhibitions and healthcare across the country.
Since initiation, MO-OF has strived to engage with the communities they have designed for, thus allowing the cultural and topographical contexts create the framework for the architectural expression. The primary issues they focus on addressing through their design include social, cultural and environmental sustainability — thus ushering explorations that transform building types and typologies. “Our work stems from the debate on the evolving cities and the potential it offers a designer. It can be categorised as ‘contextual in nature’ as it draws reference from the immediate site surroundings and the specificities of the climate that define the articulation of the built form.”
As aspiration for the near future, Agarwal and Poredi look forward to contributing to the country’s housing and infrastructure needs. Developing a knowledge base for affordable housing and super-specialty health care, they feel confident they can disseminate their ideas for the upcoming habitats. Also, since they are both passionate about transforming the education scenario in the country, they envisage the firm playing an active role in bridging the gap between academic theory and professional practice.

Looking Back

The School of Planning and Architecture at Vijayawada is MO-OF’s most significant and largest project till date. The firm was successful in delivering a high-density built program on a humane scale. This exercise also helped them question and brainstorm on the ideal teaching and learning environments for architectural design.

Looking forward

MO-OF is most looking forward to the upcoming Bombay International School project. It will help convert a traditional educational environment into a contemporary networked learning environment, which is more immersive and flexible.

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