Ar. Brinda Chinnappa Somaya, Somaya and Kalappa Consultants
"The Architect's role is that of guardian- his is the conscience of the built and un-built environment." Ar. Brinda Somaya
Ar. Brinda Somaya is an architect not only in designing but also in Speaking. Having a very close relationship and deep love for architecture and historical monuments since childhood fascinated Ar. Brinda Somaya to aspire to become an archaeologist, but later at the age of 13, she got the clear vision of her desire to become an architect. She also traveled around the world and got tremendous exposure to the ancient and contemporary arts and architecture. Her love for reading also helped her a lot to understand different civilizations, traditions, cultures and geographies. In her journey to become a famous architect, she has always been supported by her family who have helped her a make her dream come true.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University, Master of Arts and Honorary Doctorate from Smith College in Northampton, MA. USA. Ar. Somaya along with her sister Kalappa founded Somaya and Kalappa Consultants in 1978 with a belief that development and progress must proceed without straining the cultural and historic environment. The sustainability is woven in the firm's designs since inception when it was not a buzz word as today.
Spearheaded by Ar. Somaya for over three decades, Somaya and Kalappa is today a full service architectural firm offering each client a combination of imaginative design, expertise, and intense involvement. She believes in delivering high quality solutions, maintaining a balance between location, environment, functional & social requirements, budget, creativity, innovation, aesthetic issues and most importantly professionalism.
Ar. Somaya's conviction is that 'the Architect's role is that of guardian - his is the conscience of the built and un-built environment.' So an architect should understand the client requirement clearly and prior to start working on the projects he/she should visit the site to study the context, climate geography and conscience of the environment at length. Moreover, as detailing is also vital in architecture, every minute detail regarding the space, materials, etc should be carefully crafted. She believes that as every new project comes with new challenges so it is wise that one should think innovatively and differently for each project.
Being an architect and urban conservationist, Ar. Somaya has merged architecture, conservation, and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses and rehabilitation of a village impacted by an earthquake, to the restoration of an 18th Century cathedral. She emphasizes time and again that her involvement in conservation is neither self indulgent nor reverential, but an intelligent meshing of the old and new to develop an architectural firm that serves the present.
Considering the existing population of the country, she is of the opinion that we should accept the emerging trend of skyscrapers with a focused approach on the environment sustainability. Vindicating with an example she said, just as the Indus valley civilization did, we should first build infrastructure and then the buildings.
Ar. Somaya has won numerous personal and professional awards through the years including a special mention in the International Union of Architects (UIA) Vassilis Sgoutas Prize for the Bhuj Village project in 2008. Being involved in progressive conservation, such as the restoration and renovation of the Cathedral and John Connon Schools and the St Thomas Cathedral, she was awarded with a UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award (2004). She has also received awards for master-planning and building design including Tata Consultancy Services, Banyan Park, Mumbai; Nalanda International School, Vadodara; Zensar Technologies, Pune etc. Moreover, she was the first woman to win the peer-evaluated Wienerberger Golden Architect Award (2007) for lifetime achievement. In 2013, she was chosen in the 100 Global Public Interest Design persons working at the intersection of design and service globally. Recently, she received Mumbai Women of the Decade Achievers Award from the Honorable Chief Minister of Maharashtra for Excellence in Architecture & Urban Conservation. Her other achievements include that she has been a member of the Committee of Environmental Impact Assessment of New Construction Projects for the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Indian government; a member of the Mumbai Urban Heritage Conservation Committee; a member of the board of the International Archives of Women in Architecture (USA); and is a founding trustee of the HECAR Foundation.
Ar. Somaya thinks that for being successful in life one should be passionate about whatever he/she is doing. We do not worry about competition as it brings challenges and where there is a challenge, it inspires one to think innovatively and out of the box concepts and solutions.