In architecture, success is measured based on a firm’s vision and growth — more projects, more locations, more personnel. But not for Lijo.Reny.architects. They are taking a whole different route to success. But a quick trip down memory lane will help put their future plans in context. Architects Reny Lijo and Lijo Jos — graduates from Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Karnataka, and BVBCET, Karnataka, respectively — founded their practice in 2005, in Kerala, where the ground reality of architecture differed from what they wanted to offer. “For a very long time it was traditional architecture, and for a brief period it was pseudo-traditional. Now, we are breaking free from the shackles and exploring architecture of different magnitude and dimensions,” says Jos.
While they have worked on varied typologies, the residential segment remains their favourite. “It is one of the toughest. Desspite having the same set of requirements, the site, climatology and the client’s lifestyle will be different for each site,” explains Jos. These complexities are handled in innovative ways, by creating designs that are a complete departure from generic Kerala architecture, even as they remain extremely responsive to the local context. This approach has made Lio.Reny.architects an influential practice in the state, and younger practices keenly follow their work. The two approach this reality with a sense of responsibility as opposed to a sign of fame.
Their design philosophy hasn’t changed much, but one thing has evolved — their understanding of a successful quality practice. When they started off, they took up every project that came their way, handling almost 40 projects a year. But that’s going to change. “Rather than [our] philosophy, the way we work has changed. We have started putting more time in less number of projects in order to increase the quality of the projects,” says Lijo, who has now decided to work on four projects a year — and eventually bring it down to one or two a year.
“We have been trying to distill the quality of our work since the beginning. It’s like this decoction — we want to get rid of excesses in architecture, and refine our practice. In the process, we are also trying to push the boundaries of the way architecture is practised in Kerala,” says Lijo, who believes he needs to practise for another 15 years or so before he can offer any constructive advice to the fraternity.

Looking Back

One of the significant projects to impact the practice was The Walls and Vaults residence. Previous projects did bring recognition for them, but this project also brought them critical acclaim. Their work took different direction following this, mention the architects.

Looking forward

The studio has about four ongoing residential projects in Kerala, where they continue to explore a new architecture language that is context-and-client specific. The Dappled Light House is one of the most complicated projects from the lot they are eagerly waiting to complete this year.

 

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