Startup Architecture

Curated by Asmita Patnaik.

Architecture is a very pragmatic profession – an art built on the foundation of necessity.

For many architects and students, having your own firm some day is an aspiration. To be able control the kind of projects you want to work on, to design on your own terms, to have the final say on every project does have its own ring to it.

Although this paints a pretty picture, the realities of starting a firm are far from this. Starting a firm is a slow, grueling process with challenges beyond what one can envisage or is prepared for.

The challenges do not just curtail to design prospects but extend to a lot of business challenges that, we as architecture students have not been prepared or adept to handle. Today, to be a successful design practice a lot goes into making than just a vision for architecture.

Full design control often comes at the cost of learning how to successfully handle a business and being equally or more involved in the financial and logistic aspect of the practice than the creative end that one aspires to be on. You have to be well versed with payment, cost, technology, job security, obtaining new projects, maintaining a client base, completing the project, coordinating with vendors, specialists, and everyone else involved in the project. One has to go above and beyond their role as a designer and confront the business management side of the profession. An aspect which is not the area an architect usually thrives in.

This devil’s tradeoff though comes with its own opportunities for the architect. The challenges that come with starting a practice hardly ever materialize with easy and fast rewards. Architects take almost a decade or more to establish and grow as a practice. It requires patience, grit and an adept knowledge of the business. More over starting your own practice, can initially lead to financial instability and economic turbulence. Furthermore, it is difficult to get projects without an already established portfolio.

While the stakes are higher when you are starting out as a practice, it does allow an unhinged sense of designing freedom. One can address design experimentations and explorations and develop their own design aesthetic. It also allows one to make a difference and make their own contributions to the society.

So how does one who wishes to venture out be prepared to handle the adversities? Is the dream worth the trepidations?

Let us engage with a few emerging architectural practices who have managed to successfully handle these challenges and ask them their views on the same.

In the first part, we present the views of eleven architects from India.

Sushant Verma-rat[LAB] quote

I am in complete disagreement of the use of the word ‘start-up’ in the context of architectural practices.- Ar. Sushant Jai-Amita Verma, rat[LAB]

rat[LAB] – Research in Architecture & Technology, is an independent research organization and network of designers & researchers specializing in computational design or similar technology-related domains. rat[LAB] is operated as a cloud-based organization with an international network of researchers & computational designers spread across UK, USA, Europe & Asia, and a studio in New Delhi, India, the research cell functions as a global collaborative and multidisciplinary laboratory facilitating design research that leads to novel spatial tectonics and smart built environments. -rat[LAB]

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Studio Meraki - Startup Architecture

It goes much beyond sole creativity and narrows down to pure inter-personal skills. – Shweta Kaw, Studio Meraki

Studio Meraki is a design studio led by Ar. Shweta Kaw, an architect with 12 years of experience in the industry including a successful role as a Sustainable Design Consultant in Singapore after completing her post-graduation (M.Sc. Building performance & Sustainability) from the prestigious National University of Singapore as a gold medalist.

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Studio An-V-Thot

One of the best times for any budding architect to start his/her own practice would be NOW – Ankita Sweety, Pratyoosh Chandan, Studio An-V-Thot

story of Studio An-V-Thot, a young design studio that believes in the uttermost importance of the space within & beyond rather than the built frame. Completing seven years of a successful run, this award-winning, multidisciplinary studio endeavors to design and develop an environment for stories to take birth and remain, where true feelings are captured and felt with a sense of belonging, only to resonate through time.

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“Senior professionals are crucial for a holistic and a natural growth of young practices.” – Nilesh bansal, Chaukor Studio

Continuing our dialogue; today we have Nilesh Bansal from Chaukor Studio to share his views. Along with his partner Tejeshwi Bansal, he started Chaukor Studio in the year 2012 in Noida. The studio aspires to provide regenerative design solutions. By integrating traditional formal expressions and design subtleties with modern materials and technologies, they strive to create ecologically sound and elegant building environments.

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Meghana Kulkarni Pooja Chaphalkar

“We believe that like any building, a stable foundation is a must for your practice.” – Meghana Kulkarni and Pooja Chaphalkar, M+P Architects

Today, on the subject we open the discourse with Meghana Kulkarni and Pooja Chaphalkar, principle architects and co- founders of M+P Architects, Pune. Having started a collaborative endeavor in 2013, M+P Architects have collectively as well as independently procured and materialized several design projects in a course of less than five years since their genesis.

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“Starting your own practice demands one to expand their expertise beyond their designing skill set.” – Abhinav Chaudhary, FlyYing Seeds

Having started his own practice in 2015, Abhinav provides us with insights from his day to day understanding of running his firm. FlyYing Seeds aspires to be a pragmatic practice which currently handles versatile architectural and interior projects in residential, commercial, retail, institutional and hospitality projects.

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