He may be internationally renowned thanks to his unparalleled winning streak at global design awards in different parts of the world, but Sanjay Puri commenced his practice in 1992 with a 54-acre township called Vasant Nagari in Vasai, a far-flung suburb of India’s financial capital. “It was a lucky break, as it involved master planning, details of 4,000 apartments, schools, club, shopping areas and other facilities,” recalls Puri. “At that time, the only concern was to create an environment like no other in Mumbai with this project.”
A graduate of architecture from Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture, Puri holds the lessons learnt in the very first two years dear, and they still direct his design approach. For inspiration, he turns to any project that has created a new vocabulary of space, as also historic traditional buildings. His mentor, he maintains, is Hafeez Contractor — with whom he worked through five years of college and four years after graduating.
Since Sanjay Puri Architects (SPA) started with a large residential township of 22,00,000sq-ft, they soon bagged several other residential projects in the city. The learning came in many ways. It taught them the key aspects of residential layouts and what people desire from a home as well as a layout. They also learnt how services had to be integrated and what configurations create large landscaped spaces, among other important lessons.
Today, SPA has over 40 million sq-ft in various typologies of architectural projects under its belt. The firm has worked in over 40 Indian cities so far, and each location has allowed them to create a contextual response to the climate, tradition and other local factors. They have designed housing projects of all kinds — from 300-acre layouts with 15,000 apartments to individual buildings and homes. Other projects include hotels, entertainment centres, schools, office buildings, retail malls, temples, clubs, art galleries and cinema complexes.
Over a period of time, the consciousness towards sustainability and context has increased manifold and the firm’s designs have become more meaningful. The principal of SPA is proud that each of their projects is driven by the need to create a strong contextual response and evolve a new experience of spaces. They are deliberately doing fewer projects at this time than in the past, with an increased focus on sustainability and generating energy-efficient architecture that does not draw parallels with anything created prior to them.
Puri hopes that the continuity in this approach will contribute to an architecture that is rooted in India and simultaneously unique. Based on his formidable experience, he urges fellow architects not to give in to commercial needs of clients, but to focus on creating good design.

Looking Back

Puri handpicks an entertainment centre in Lonavala, Chrome Hotel in Kolkata, The Courtyard House in Beawar, The Streets in Mathura, and Ishatvam 9 in Ranchi – because each of these award-winning projects was dramatically different from the work the firm had done before.

Looking forward

SPA is enthused about completing a wine resort in Nasik, a hotel in Ranchi, a school in Rajasthan, and another school in Raipur. “All four projects are unique in the perception of spaces within them,” explains Puri, whose dream project, not yet realised, is a 100-acre development in Montenegro.

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