Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Storyteller of Architect’s Narrative

An architect with immense love for steel, as he believes that this material enables the designer to explore his creative mind in the true sense which one can see in his outstanding works.
The man of the hour, Ar. Kalhan Mattoo, Principal, Planet 3 Studios, is here to narrate architect’s journey right from challenges and how do they turn every encounter into an opportunity. Read to know more…


How did you decide to be an architect? Who were the people/incidents that influenced your decision?
Arundhati Roy was my influence. I was about 15, when I watched a movie with my Grandpa that eventually became a cult classic. Secretly, I think my Grandpa was equally smitten, but then I had the choice to pursue her suggested promise of a liberal, open, creative world, and therefore, chose architecture.

What do you think are the most important skills to succeed in architecture?
Being fool hardly to an extent. The very fact that one chooses a profession as these discounts any great analytical ability to chart a viable career path. The best skill, therefore, would be one to spin all the myriad, disconnected, sometimes coupled determinants, that defines us every day into a coherent narrative, ideological or otherwise while keeping clients and accruals sustainable.

Do you believe it is possible for an architectural project to have an impact on people’s habits, behavior and expectations?
Yes, but not to the extent Architects would have you believe. The spaces that we inhabit, places where we work, play and maybe pray – all fall within the realm of human nurture. It matters quite a bit, but, more to the sensitized left leaning elite, who subscribe more to nurture than nature as the definitive answer for all that is good or bad with the human lot.

To what extent do you think construction materials can support a complex concept of design made up of many variables, from human to landscape, from anthropological to environmental?
Materials are tangible, immediate and clearly much important in defining the quality of a spatial environment. Materials are expressive, and as such work as passive storytellers to the Architect’s narrative. That narrative could have multiple anchors, some as well mentioned above.

Can steel play a role in all this?
Yes again. It’s a great natural material. Architecturally, expressive and structurally sound. Always a favorite child to most architects.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge when it comes to designing for environmental sustainability?
Environmentalists. Greens. Bleeding hearts do gooders who have appointed themselves as custodians of Mother Earth and more. They are sanctimonious, preachy and often talk down to all those who may hold an alternate view. With potent agendas to direct and control others to convert to their world view, their manner is increasingly tending towards shades of fascism. Designing is like solving a multi variable equation, sustainability is an important consideration, but not the only one. In any case climate change has a nonlinear dynamic to it, has always changed and will continue to do so. I believe we are overplaying our role here and sometimes imposing unsustainable constraints. I fear a backlash in the near future, both from practitioners and clients alike.

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today?
I have always lived by the dictum – ‘If life offers lemons, make Caipiroska!’. Our profession is a tipped over truck with lemons all over. Architects have to reinvent themselves now more than ever before. Find new purpose, if you like, for our existence. When the best projects are awarded by Government agencies at 0.26 per cent fees, when most of the new Urban Development is mandated to vague business consulting or finance entities, when PMC firms have commodified architect ‘vendor services’ and when antiquated building codes and deliberately obscure systems of approval thwart creative expression, and finally, the financial illiteracy and lack of understanding of the business/commercial imperative of large complex projects, marginalizes our role – it’s time for a reboot.

How would you define your responsibility as an architect?
Sincerely, I believe that responsibility encompasses everything from site selection, business case analysis, program development, concept to details, project implementation strategy, coordinating the whole wide world of stakeholders, support on marketing and even finance. Moving away from the Pandit+Dakshina model to having genuine skin in the game.

What role do you see for technology in design in the coming days?
Necessary admission, I remain a technophile. It’s not just in building technology and construction techniques that significant change is imminent, it’s more fundamentally in the very processes that we employ to design and engineer. I have done whole projects without drawing a line, no premeditation, just definition of relevant parameters. Computational design coupled with data analytics will challenge any current notions of the practice of design in ways that we can’t fully comprehend right now.

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