As part of the Think Turf series addressing ‘Design Excellence and Best Practices’, Roca called to order an open forum, in association with ITP Media (India) Group, on November 21st, 2018 at Vice Regal, Radisson Lucknow City Center. The discussion aimed to understand the business aspects of architecture through the perspective of the working professionals themselves.
Rashmi Naicker, editor at ITP Media (India), welcomed the invitees on behalf of the organisers, touched upon the gist of the forum and opened the evening’s proceedings. Next, Vineet Saxena, regional sales manager (UP & Uttarakhand) for Roca India, took the stage to deliver a short presentation on the global presence, achievements, business areas, products and offerings that the pioneering brand has in store for the fraternity and community.
For the keynote address, Naicker introduced and invited Sangeet Sharma, principal architect at SD Sharma & Associates, Chandigarh, to the dais. Sharma, being a passionate architect and an avid writer, addresses architecture and its implications without any inhibitions. To set the tone, he introduced his latest book Castles in the Air, a satire which talks about the misadventures of the profession.

The audience pays keen attention to the engaging panel discussion.

Sharma then went on to share glimpses of some of his projects: Damcosoft IT Park at Chandigarh; Mega Boys Hostel for NIT Jalandhar; PSG Institute of Technology & Applied Science at Coimbatore; Examination block & Wadia Museum of Natural History at University of Jammu; Auditorium at Nauni University at Solan; Café cum Library block at PPHC; KMG Towers at Mohali; TIMEX Factory at Baddi, and his first project – Hostel at NIPER.
In conclusion, he highlighted, “Whether the architects are ‘born’ or ‘created’ is a continuous debate; but still, architecture is called ‘frozen poetry’. Architecture is a reflection of God and, in architecture, the feeling of fulfilment is far greater than the feeling of achievement.”
Saxena returned to the stage to felicitate Sharma for his time and insightful presentation. Commencing the main segment of the event – the panel session – Naicker invited the speakers on stage and encouraged them to break the ice by sharing experiences and stories of their first project as designers.
Following the icebreaker, she asked the architects to deliberate on how they maintain a synergy between with the number of stakeholders attached to a particular project. DS Bhui of Cosmic Designs shared his ideology inherited from iconic architect Achyut Kanvinde, saying, “I thoroughly endorse Kanvinde’s philosophy that says ‘Good luck and God’s grace can lead you to create a great building’. However, the overall experience proves that an architect does not become a leader of all stakeholders – be it engineers, contractors or governing bodies – but rather, a friend to all.”
When asked about dealing with conflicting situations with the client, wherein ethics or professional conduct are at stake, Ashok Kumar of Arch-En Design said, “Every individual firm or architect has his or her convictions. We need to be firm enough to convey the right methodology in a way that the client understands. Not all questions have a yes-or-no answer; we need to make them comprehend what is rational and right.”
Anupam Mittal of Arinem Consultancy added, “It is difficult for the architects who have recently started practising to deal firmly with the clients. But older professionals do have the power to make the right call. After all, it is our responsibility as architects to do so.”
Naicker shared a few instances of undercutting that have been occuring in the profession with respect to both private and government projects. The panelists confirmed the existence of the issue and agreed with Kumar when he said, “We need to have a standard in terms of the scale of fees. The market consists of different kinds of practices; some follow the ethics [laid down] and some do not. But the ones who undercut usually fail to sustain because of their faulty delivery. Their success is short-lived.”
When talking about the prevailing competition scenarios, Bhui raised a point, saying, “The competitions’ ‘turnover clause’ requires more than 90% of the architects to register and apply. This way, the architects are judged by the capability of their firm for doing the project, rather than [for just] designing it.”
Ajay Behl of Civil Consultants Architects responded that the ‘turnover clause’ is one condition among many others. “In competitions that hold large-scale projects, the architects need to invest before getting the benefit back. Until and unless a firm is scaled internally to undertake bigger projects, they will fail to commit and deliver rightly. Even otherwise, the younger firms can always partner with older firms and create their own path of success,” Behl concluded.
Parminder, a member of the audience shared his thoughts, saying, “The policies and standards should be revised to allow for barrier-free architecture and clause-free competitions. Otherwise, only the thriving ones will continue to thrive. The industry needs fresh designers and ideas coming from the floating lot.”
Closing the evening on this note, each of the panelists were felicitated with a token of appreciation. After a vote of thanks to the speakers, guests and attendees, the audience was invited to continue their conversations over cocktails and dinner.

 

Panel of experts

Sangeet Sharma, SD Sharma & Associates
Ashok Kumar, Arch-En Design
DS Bhui, Cosmic Designs
Ajay Behl, Civil Consultants Architects
Anupam Mittal, ARINEM Consultancy

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Eminent practising design minds from lucknow review the state and ethics of the profession

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