A few weeks after a 63-hour-long train journey filled with several brainstorming sessions and the realisation of common aspirations, Nisha Mathew and Soumitro Ghosh — alumni of CEPT, Ahmedabad — founded Mathew & Ghosh Architects in 1995. “Our first patron was my mother-in-law,” recalls Ghosh, reminiscing about the project that presented the freshly founded design endeavour their first architectural challenge. They remember it as a time of immense hands-on learning, responsibility and “nervous excitement” while working every day with the contractor and workers on site. Since then, they have consciously looked for challenging projects, irrespective of scale and typology.
Instead of becoming specialists in one design language, MGA veered towards prototyping unusual situations and coming up with divergent strategies for each new condition. As a design philosophy that has guided them through the years, one that stands out is the awareness of how the value of humanism relates strongest to architecture. They began to compare the growth of self as individuals with that of the designer in the field of architecture. Looking at the process from this fresh point of view brought them a deeper understanding over time — through the mediums of work, teaching and learning. Admirers of Rem Koolhaas, the duo honestly accept that architects can be exceptionally vulnerable due to the negligible level of control over their ambitions for a project. Finding that balance is, thus, crucial.
Armed with the necessary skills and evolved understanding, MGA has found that they are capable of contributing to the architectural wealth of the country through more than one discipline. Their work is as diverse as it is unique. From the largest brew pub in Asia to the conversion of a 125-year-old orphanage into a design store, from the National Martyrs memorial to the transformation of a 150-year-old jail into an urban park, the firm has seen challenges and opportunities across the canvas.
Thoughts and action are in constant synergy at MGA. The curiosity of finding newer techniques and testing them is fuel for the motor that keeps them going. When asked how they would describe their work, as any artist respectful of their art, the architects humbly reply, “That is for you to decipher.”

Looking Back

Ghosh insists that, since the practice charts a course of destiny unknown, each work has provided new learning opportunities. However, The House of Stories, a residential project, is a notable feat for the firm. The hierarchy of spaces and play of sunlight creates poetic transitions between the open and the intimate.

Looking forward

MGA is currently involved in designing the Museum of Art and Photography in Bengaluru, where the attempt is to bridge and balance the project’s “publicness and privacy”, and create open accessibility. “Finding an appropriate balance and negotiating that is an interesting process,” notes Ghosh.

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