I’m glad to introduce myself as a designer, writer and essentially a wanderlust traveler. If I were to sum-up my traits in three words, I’d call myself uninhibited, enthusiastic and intrepid. I grew up observing people around me and so did my love for reading their body language. An avid fan of sci-fi and mythology, I can recall spending countless afternoons getting my little hands dirty in mud and sculpting amorphous imaginary characters who’d come to life through a series of fanciful scientific experiments. Books and dogs were the only living friends till I turned nine. Then gradually, I matured into this passionate citified adult, who’s always seeking an escape from the urban ruckus in search of a quiet starry night or a campfire lit in the middle of nowhere. Coming from a generation of dropped pins on Google Maps, I’m someone who always wants to explore that unlabeled green patch in the satellite view. Someone whose backpack is always ready, with a sketchpad, some pencils, a half-read book and an iPod.
I felt being akin to art and architecture, since my schooldays itself, when I realized how madly I was drawn towards the vivid experiences generated by different spaces around me. I happened to live in a house, which was right across the street where the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara (MSU) is. Funny it may sound, but those annual displays with nude surrealist sculptures and contradicting outbursts of colors were my much-awaited surprises. In 2009, I enrolled myself into the undergrad architecture program at APIED (Institute of Environmental Design), Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat. My amazement was urged by these student routines, whereby a walk into the old town for documentation, ended up sowing a week-long flair of ideas full of design inspirations, questions and improvisations. I also learned how to devote and commit better towards amending habits like reading and writing, thanks to the really resourceful library on our campus. My growth as an architect led me into believing that purpose of architecture is to enrich lives and simplify the mundane complexities. There are ways architects deploy to make an impact, at times by being absorbed by fabric of the place, other times by offering a fresh introduction to remind the bygone. Visual disparity or homogeneity, are just two sides of a coin. I began to perceive architecture as a craft of innovation, dare-saying a world within a world, an apogee of elements of nature, culture and future.
As an architecture student, I was competent and proactive at academics and co-curriculum too. I consistently ranked among the top 10 students of my batch and participated in as many workshops and seminars. Somehow, I never liked to identify myself with a unidirectional tendency or channel, thus preferred to spice up my platter with diverse routines and activities. I did my office training (six-month internship) with Vasthukam Architects, Thrissur, Kerala. This proved to be a memorable and constructive opportunity, where I had intense encounters with the socio-cultural and progressive aspects of vernacular architecture, practiced stringently in and around Kerala. It was then, when I could relate to the densely rendered landscape from all my Geoffrey Bawa and Laurie Baker clippings; I developed a kinship with the manifestation of critical regionalism and neo vernacularism.
In between these years, I picked up few stochastic projects, where I was luckily allowed to experiment and learn. I volunteered with Pathfinder International for a USAID project funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, from February 2013 for a year. The project was targeted towards uplifting sex-workers and transgenders to achieve better reproductive health, livelihood opportunities and nurture their unplanned infants, along with creating awareness for HIV and educating the peers to sustain themselves against the political and trafficking threats. My role was to help them identify multiple places or properties within the dense red-light district of Pune City. These were then refurbished to function as Community Learning Centers (CLCs), where medical examination, vaccination programs, awareness campaigns, vocational training sessions and community gatherings can be organized. Using limited funds to achieve simple and sustainable solutions, I worked towards designing interior spaces which were flexible, dismantlable and re-usable. During my brief association with this ostracized stratum of demographics, I was moved by the impact any architect or spatial designer can create on any community. Not only could I co-relate the physical environment of such neglected squatters to the perception of people inhabiting it, but I also realized how resourceful designers can be, when it comes to social alleviation.
My undergrad course later concluded with a research thesis based on the comprehension of presence and absence in spatial realms. My inherent involvement with phenomenology and semiotics, inspired my research the dissertation, titled as ‘SPACES OF THE DEAD –Semiotic Analysis of Architecture which Connotes the Presence of the Absent’. I traveled pan India, tracing primary case studies, broadly funerary examples of architecture, to instantiate the metaphysics of absence by presence. In the August 2014, I graduated as a novice in architecture with a theoretical glut.
Currently, I’m working as an architect with SquareWorks, a Bombay based practice led by Ar. Katsushi Goto. I’ve been actively working on two residential projects since October 2016. The projects are vivid and expansive in terms of scope and detail. My previous work experience includes my 18-month teaching association with School of Environmental Design and Architecture, Navrachana University, Vadodara, as an Academic Associate. This to an extent, was an annex to the architectural education I received as an undergraduate. I’ve worked as a Contributing Editor for Art, Design and Architecture departments with Posi+tive Magazine for a brief period. I also completed a certified editorial internship with Arch 2O in 2016. Apart from these, I’m also designing booklets for a few wildlife. Over the weekends, I’m working as a Voluntary English Tutor with an agency affiliated to ETS and Pearson’s, mentoring aspiring individuals to prepare for TOEFL, IELTS and PTE.
This is all I can think, that summarizes myself. I merrily take up challenges come what may and enjoy puzzle solving. I’m never hesitant to say yes to places unexplored and people unmet. I look forward to this endeavor as yet another exciting episode in my life, whereby I’d be exposed to newer opportunities, experiences and people.