Parul Zaveri and Nimish Patel founded Abhikram in October 1979, with no rigid idea of the direction the practice ought to take. The initial years were about exploring multiple design directions as long as they made the built environment functionally, psychologically, environmentally and spiritually contextual and comfortable for all — a dhyeya (goal) Abhikram holds sacred till date. They believe that the strength of Indian architecture lies is in its variety, and confining themselves to a particular ‘style’ of building only reduces possibilities. “Since our practice was based on dhyeya, convictions and beliefs, we were unable to approach anyone to seek projects. We waited for them to come to us,”say the founders. And while in the beginning they worked on a few residences, they believe that creativity has no boundaries, not even of scale. It is driven by a desire for a responsible outcome — to make the space comfortable for end users. They also maintain that they derive more pleasure from the process of learning when it came from practice, rather than if it was achieved in the confines of a classroom.
While their core beliefs were clear right from the beginning, what evolved, as Abhikram grew, was the understanding of its applications. From the smallest classroom to the largest mall in Udaipur, the use of passive cooling systems, adaptive reuse, heritage conservation, and access to contextual and traditional materials and crafts afforded richness to the resultant product. Such a project did not just find cultural favour, but also turned out to be more cost-effective financially.
With 39 years of architectural practice to back them, Zaveri (an alumnus and visiting faculty of CEPT, Ahmedabad) and Patel (an alumnus of CEPT, Ahmedabad and MIT, Cambridge) continue to strive towards contextually relevant architecture. With their design approaches and solutions, Abhikram encourages the use of traditional knowledge in construction techniques and contemporary crafts and design, thus making the architectural inserts culturally, socially and economically sustainable — and in effect, contributing to the sustainability of the immediate neighbourhoods.
As their contribution to their contemporaries, Abhikram intends to lead by example in avoiding excess use of design elements that are unsustainable, maintaining electrical and mechanical energies to optimum needs, and reducing wastage in construction. Parallel to their hectic and passionate architectural practice, they endeavour to spread awareness about sustainable design at macro and micro levels, and regularly conduct seminars and workshops.

Looking Back

Bagore ki Haveli in Udaipur is one of Abhikram’s favourite heritage conservation projects. The Cosmoville row houses in Ahmedabad, on the other hand, called for innovative approach in addressing the end user’s need for comfort and achieving better sales for their clients.

Looking forward

Of the few projects Abhikram is currently involved in, they are looking forward to their work on the Fort Barwara Resort, at Chauth ka Barwara, near Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. This conservation and adaptive reuse project will be operated by Six Senses.

 

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