Academics and profession are two different things. It took me a lot of time to understand the profession and its need. – Sujoy Das, Inscape Design Studio

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Continuing with our story, the second participant of Startup Architecture II is Ar. Sujoy Das, Principal Landscape Architect, Inscape Design Studio. A new Landscape Studio based out of Kolkata, IDS provides master planning, landscape architecture & regional landscape planning consultancy services. At Inscape, a context responsive design which will take into account the association of the users as an intimate part of the space is of utmost priority. Moving with the belief that landscape design aims to bridge the gap between the built form and the softscape to merge the stark differences, IDs has been within a short span of time able to grab the attention of architects and clients alike with their ever intelligent interventions.

When Ar. Sujoy Das decided to join the master’s program in Landscape Architecture in School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, he had the desire of adding value to life by breathing in natural elements to the most of the unremarkable architectural projects that cluttered his city. Having completed his masters, he came back to Kolkata; starting his personal practice seemed a gradual eventuality to him. “It was a very tough decision for me at that time, but, my experience in working with the legendary landscape architect late professor Md. Shaheer and a demanding journey at SPA gave me the confidence to move ahead. As I approached many senior architects practicing in the city, I got a very positive support from most of them. Once we got the opportunity, we worked hard to ensure quality delivery, at times moving beyond the fees to make a mark for Inscape Design Studio, a specialized Landscape Design Firm that Kolkata desperately needed at that time.”

Inscape Design Studio - Startup Architecture

Talking of the challenges, he first points to the gap between Education and Profession.

Academics and profession are two different things. It took me a lot of time to understand the profession and its need.

Sujoy Das / Inscape Design Studio

He also points out to the prominent challenge of finding the right platform to start with and goes on to express his gratitude to Landscape Architect Suchandra Bardhan (Professor, Dept. of Architecture, Jadavpur University) for providing him with initial project leads and Ar. Abhishek Dutta for sparing his space and infrastructure. “With the launching pad in place, I was ready to take the leap of faith!”

In the five years of his practice he says, the biggest challenge he has encountered has been to make his clients (often practicing architects) understand the role of landscaping and the value a landscape architect can add to any project. A majority of the clients maintained a strange mentality that the scope of a landscape architect is limited to specifying plants/trees in a project with occasional paving design and outdoor art features he says, which obviously has been an exceedingly limiting misconception.

Some of the work by Inscape Design Studio:

The inherent problem of monetary exploitation he says, is one of those issues that has riddled everybody in the start of their initiative. “Initially, exploitation by the market becomes one of the most painful challenges most of the beginners have to face. And we were no exceptions. Due to the inherently creative nature of the job, once you start on any design, it is difficult to control the creative instincts. The time that will be spent on a given activity is hard to estimate and so is managing billable utilization. A lot of our efforts have remained unpaid to date for unknown reasons. But, those are what makes you mature and toughens you as you grow.”

Talking about moments of joy in the brief stint of five years, he gets lividly candid!

By the very nature of the job, architects have to create built forms with steel & concrete, however sensible to nature they may be. But in here, being a landscape architect, our duty is to enhance greenery, plant trees, bring nature back into the built environment. In a way, we are contributing to the environment for its betterment. This very fact is one of the most satisfying feels in itself. Despite challenges, it feels so satisfying seeing the spaces we envision being implemented on the ground. The plants and trees we placed in the drawing are growing, blooming on site, giving shade, providing birds and insects a ‘home’. That provides an unparalleled satisfaction.

Tough times are integral to any start. He recalls the race against time to complete and execute the Redevelopment of Nandan Rabindrasadan Campus prior to the inauguration of the Kolkata International Film Festival hosted by the Govt. of West Bengal or bringing to the public a new plaza design at Nazrul Mancha at Dhakuria, Kolkata. “We have won several prestigious competitions. Among those, the Srirampur Historic Town Square Urban Landscape design competition in association with Ar. Ashish Acharjee is a milestone project for us.” There have been quite a few moments of ecstatic joy in the journey, and he dedicates it all to his small and budding team of young architects. “But definitely, we do enjoy the journey as a whole!” he adds.

“But definitely, we do enjoy the journey as a whole!”

Sujoy Das / Inscape Design Studio

And like any successful venture, Ar. Sujoy Das plans to expand. “As of now most of our works are in West Bengal and few projects in Assam, Jharkhand, Oddisa, and Jaipur. In the coming years, we would like to spread our domain in every place throughout the country. Also as we can see now, that the execution of any design is a big challenge for the industry. Getting a good landscape contractor with a full understanding of the vision of the designer is almost impossible. Thus, we plan to train & guide a team who can fulfill this void in the coming years.”

When asked to provide the junior generations with a word of guidance, his intelligent smirk was suggestive of the fact that it is a tough world.

I would like young architects to find their true passion and then follow whatever that may be, with heart and soul, and most importantly with persistence and full faith. If you strive and exist long enough in what you love, then nothing is impossible.

Sujoy Das / Inscape Design Studio

In the coming few days, we will be publishing more stories on the upcoming design practices of the country. Watch out this space for further inspiring stories on young practices from their founders!

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