Shilpa Gore-Shah and Pinkish Shah have always looked at design as being free from the straitjacket of labels, and their practice, S+PS Architects (which they established in 1997, post their Master’s from the University of New Mexico and work stints abroad) doesn’t accept traditional boundaries between various creative fields. They have intentionally chosen not to focus on any one particular area, say the founders of S+PS, but use their generalist training as architects to successfully operate across all these scales, bringing their own personal vision and attitude to each project that they take on.
The firm, which is greatly concerned about place-making and has stayed “small by design”, is influenced by the principals’ interest in history, pedagogy, travel and common sense. Each project is a manifestation of deliberation, contemplation and intuition: careful study and research, combined with technical knowledge and balanced by richness that results through the examination of “random and unforeseen events.” The various national and international awards, publications, lectures and exhibitions are a by-product of the above and testify to their evolving design sensibilities. Two of their recent projects, in particular, Collage House and Design.I.Y Housing, represent shifts in thinking on design and the notion of an architect as omniscient. “We are questioning the idea of the architect as Mr.Know-it-All. [One needs to know] where and when to let go, to be able to become more inclusive in the processes and making of architecture,” says Pinkish. “Both projects demonstrate this idea in very different ways, and it certainly [marks] a shift in our thinking.”
Shilpa and Pinkish’s vision for the future of their practice is governed by the importance of “doing the right things, as opposed to only doing things right.” Especially when it comes to projects that make a difference in people’s lives: mass housing, public spaces in the city, and spaces for learning. With Pinkish’s role as Dean of Academic Affairs at KRVIA, one of Mumbai’s leading architectural schools, the “difference” comes through, shaping young minds and affecting pedagogy.

Looking Back

The firm’s Collage House project has got them tremendous exposure, including being featured on the BBC-Netflix series, ‘World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’. Though not all the feedback on social media has been positive, it has brought to the fore an important discussion on waste and recycling (inspired by Mumbai’s informal settlements).

Looking forward

The architects have spent the past few months working on a large affordable housing project, which includes design of public amenities on a complex site on a slope. Both Pinkish and Shilpa hope that the project will take off soon, as it has the potential to affect the lives of a large number of people.

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