When your lineage is as noteworthy as Naresh V Narasimhan’s, your architectural journey is bound to leave a significant impact — both on you as a person and on society as a whole. Narasimhan’s father PK Venkataramanan established his practice in 1969 — an era between post-independence and globalisation, when attempts were being made to create a design identity for the nation. While very few architectural practices were enthused by this mission, Venkataramanan Associates (VA) was keen on meeting this
challenge head-on. “We have always believed in combining
aesthetic modernity [rooted] within the complex cultural context
of India, with a utilitarian focus on the functioning of a building,”
What started out as a small office — with its early work in real estate and scientific institutions widening its reach, has now transformed into a 180-person firm servicing reputed clients from several of India’s largest corporates and Fortune 500 companies. Their portfolio spans multiple sectors and geographies, ranging from complex research and development facilities, manufacturing units and IT parks, to public institutions and real estate. Over the years, they have created several benchmarks for the above-mentioned typologies in India. No matter the scale or type, Narasimhan says their intention is to realise more than a building — “we aim to create a place, a destination.” Aspects such as lifecycle design, energy conservation, recycling of resources, usage of locally available materials, and space management help them reach that destination.
Narasimhan and his team believe that, as architects, they have a responsibility towards envisioning and designing their cities. “However, considering the challenges involved in solving urban problems, we are [making] a Sisyphean attempt to transform chaotic urban infrastructure [and make it more] people friendly,” he adds. But this hasn’t prevented the studio from taking on several urban projects that help create liveable cities, among them the Church Street Redevelopment Project, MOD Institute and Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF).
For this graduate from Manipal Institute of Technology (with a Project and Appraisal Management degree from Harvard University) designing Indian cities is of utmost importance. “There is a need for architects to engage in broad conversations with the cityscape,” he says, adding that architects now understand the significance of sourcing relevant materials found within a certain radius distance if a project has to remain sustainable. “This outlook, coupled with eco-friendly construction processes, can [help] weave in sustainability [in the initial stages of the] project. And finally, architects should learn business management.” Continuing education, he says, is imperative and not a choice anymore.

Looking Back

VA made a breakthrough with a multi-million dollar R&D facility in Bengaluru for General Electric. The John F Welch Technology Centre catapulted them onto the global arena and established their credentials to take on large R&D and commercial projects.

Looking Forward

Currently, Bengaluru-based VA is designing a highly confidential research centre for a global major. “Fuelled by the acceleration of technology and material science, this design is set to change the face of R&D facility design,” says Narasimhan.

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