Ar. Snehal Shah, Snehal Shah Architects
Snehal Shah is an alumnus of CEPT University, Ahmedabad from where he completed his graduation in 1980. His thesis was supervised by B.V Doshi. He undertook postgraduate studies at the Architectural Association Graduate School in London under Royston Landau, and Robin Middleton supervised his History paper on Labrouste and Quatremere de Quincy. Subsequently he completed his RIBA Part-3 and worked with the renowned architect, Mario Botta, for several years. He returned to India in 1987 and set up his practice in Ahmedabad.
Family House, Bhat
Family House, Bhat
Ar. Shah believes in making architecture that is 'of its time', as a Gujarati proverb states, Vakhattevuvaju. History confirms that buildings appropriate to their time, place and climate, endure.
In learning to build, his architecture adopted a variety of expressions – with the constant being the will to manipulate light and ventilation to the best advantage. He studies vernacular techniques as well as learns from Indian exemplars and western architectural history. Reference from all these find their way into his buildings, along with his debt to the geometry of Louis Kahn and Mario Botta.
Ar. Shah's interest, since the beginning, is in the monumental architecture of the past – the Renaissance and subsequent periods in Europe, and also medieval architecture in western India, especially the Solanki period of the 10th-13th centuries. As an architect, he has researched medieval water architecture in western India, and his studies in that neglected field hitherto are producing remarkably insightful information.
One explanation of Ar. Shah's amazing range of projects and diversity of designs is that he has strategically located himself between the past and the future. His intense interest in architectural history, especially of western India, the region from which he hails, has sensitised him to traditional stone and timber constructional techniques, rigorous geometric codes of design, and local environmental conditions, especially the scarcity of water in an arid landscape. Ar. Shah has embarked upon an ambitious repertory of private and public buildings that testify to a unique cosmopolitan sensibility and refined aesthetic for the last over 20 years.
As Shah has always been interested in research and teaching, and he has continuously taught and published research articles. Since 1987, he has been an Honorary Professor at CEPT and in 2014 he was appointed as the Director, CEPT Library. He has lectured in Asia, Europe and the USA. His writings on the history of Indian architecture include the book "Ahmedabad", which he co-edited with George Michell. "The Water Architecture of Western India" is a forthcoming edition of UME, the precursor for which was sown in 1981 when he won the Royal Institute of British Architect (RIBA) Research Award for his investigation on the subterranean water structures of Gujarat and other parts of Western India.