Ar. Pavitra Sriprakash, Shilpa Architects Planners Designers
"Architecture to me is clean and simple with a focus on efficiency of space, energy and cost. Architecture must respect its location and context without which it cannot be relevant to the future. Sustainability, Technology and the future of Architecture rely on our ability to stay connected with each other in our built and natural environments. I believe that as long as a site, by virtue of its landform, movement of wind and water and cultural location forms the basis of the design – each project will be a unique architecture of its own – for the people and the ecosystem it is in."
Growing up exposed to the arts and architecture of India has prepared Ar. Pavitra Sriprakash for being in this profession. According to her, "The role of an architect is one of the great responsibilities as the spaces we create can last a lifetime. I remain inspired by creating these spaces that are easy to implement and socially & environment-friendly. I enjoy dabbling with a palette of the best and most unique traditional methods of construction, and incorporating them in new and contemporary ways that will lead to their preservation."
Shedding lights on her journey in the architectural and design world, she says, "When my mother, Sheila Sri Prakash started her practice in 1979, it was a home-office. I practically grew up under her drafting table. I used to pick up material samples and work them into my own ‘mixed media' – canvas, water colours, acrylic painting base with 3D bits glued on to it! By the time I was in 7th Grade of school, I had learnt AutoCAD and used to spend summers working on small architectural details in her studio."
"My specialisation was in the field of Urban Design from Columbia University in New York City. My first few Urban Planning projects were based in the Burroughs of Queens and Upper Manhattan. Harlem was going through tremendous changes and there was a lot of commercial interest in its development. The city was reeling under the aftermath of 9/11 and there were many families moving into the Brownstones in Harlem. The biggest challenge I faced was to understand the issues of a community – one that had traditionally been in the neighbourhood for several decades and their dealing with change. There were several stakeholders with various interests that were very difficult to tackle through the medium of Architecture and Urban Design. As a young architect I quickly learned that the balance between the requirements of the client and creativity is a huge challenge that needs to be managed."
On her design inspiration & influences, she says, "My architecture is definitely influenced by geography and sustainability. Using spaces that extend out into the open with the usage of courtyards and sloping roofs are respectful of our tropical location. I have a great deal of respect for traditional Indian styles of architecture. There is so much to learn from the vast types of architecture that have been part of the rich history of the country – ranging from luxurious palaces to the complex urban tenements that form so much of the Indian cities today. I am inspired by the way Rem Koolhas handles his space and volume while the techniques of Laurie Baker are inspirational from a material and architectural detail aspect."
Through the study of temple architecture and my involvement with the Archaeological Society of India, I gained exposure to the works of ancient kings and their great structures in the temples of Tanjavur and Mamalla. The Pandya architecture of Mamallapuram (south of Chennai, India) is believed to be the seaport through which the Dravidian influences crossed the sea to the rest of South East Asia. This impact of Dravidian culture is one that still exists today through food and architecture and is visible in parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia– it is truly inspiring for me as an architect. It reinforces my conviction that designs that are born in India can have a world-wide impact especially in today's globalised scenario!