Ar. Hans Brouwer- India is a Long-term Growth Market

Hans Brouwer
Ar. Hans Brouwer has started HB Design Pte Ltd in 2004 as a single-man practice, has today, grown to a 40 man practice with projects in 9 countries. The firm, strongly feels that the real foundations of design lie in the combination of vision, sound problem-solving structure and the ability to create exceptional spatial experiences. The key thing, it believes, is to have the right intention - that is to try to be as responsible and efficient with its resources and the way its structures are used. "We entered into the Indian periphery in 2008 and since then worked on number of projects here. We see this country as a long-term growth market and are keen to be involved with visionary clients with intentions of creating exceptional architecture," says Ar. Hans Brouwer, Founder, HB Design Pte Ltd in an interview with Maria R.

Could you please tell us in brief about your architectural firm HB Design Pte Ltd, its global operations, and journey so far?

I started my professional (architectural) journey working in the office of Sir Norman Foster. In my 8 + years there, I was fortunate to be involved with and responsible for a number of world-class buildings, taking them from inception through to completion. It was a very good introduction into the professional world of design and architecture.

I started HB Design in 1995 in Hong Kong, where I grew up. Asia was booming at the time and I felt that my personal timing and professional aspirations pointed clearly towards coming back to my roots and setting up my own practice.

The journey since then has taken many twists and turns. At first, we grew quite quickly, growing to a 14 man firm within the first year. Unfortunately, I still had no real understanding of how to run my own practice. We went bust after 3 years.

I re-started HB Design in 1998 in Singapore - alone. Unfortunately, this timing coincided with the great economic downturn that started at the end of 1997. I started by working out of my apartment and taking on whatever work I could get.

I consider this time very important in my growth as an architect and professional. Since then I have always been very prudent about work- and cashflow.

Our growth from a single-man practice to what we are today started in earnest around 2004. Since then we've grown to a 40 man practice with offices in Singapore, Phuket and Bangkok with projects in 9 countries.

What architecture means to you and how do you see at the current key architectural trends?

I have always been intrigued by architecture's ability to mean different things to different people - ranging from the poetic to the pragmatic. I have always been very process driven. I like to fully understand both the inherent properties of a project (site, brief, climate, economics, etc.) and to explore what the design could be in as much breadth and depth as possible.

This design exploration process becomes "evolutionary" in nature with multiple design solutions tested over a series of rounds - good ideas prevail, while inappropriate ideas are not propagated.

Today, we live in an era of instant gratification and impulse consumption. This has also affected how architecture is processed and appreciated. I feel that there is too much emphasis on style and appearance - and not enough on content and function.

A-15 Pan Block Down

Please tell us about your Firm's design philosophy and areas of focus? Also please elaborate on your design expertise.

Architecture is a slow-growth profession. It takes time to accumulate real-life experience and the understanding that comes from seeing design transformed from idea to building. At this stage in my career I feel things are starting to come together in ways that weren't possible when I was younger.

Vision and ambition is now tempered by experience and knowledge. This leads to a design approach that is more confident and sure-handed - at the same time more grounded and relevant.

I am often asked what my area of design expertise is: residential, commercial, hospitality-- I always answer the same: good design. I feel strongly, that the real foundations of design lie in the combination of vision, sound problem-solving structure and the ability to create exceptional spatial experiences. This is not restricted by brief, programme or typology. Whether you are designing a door handle, a tower or a house, the fundamentals of design remain the same.

Please shed lights on some of the unique and most recognized projects, designed by you?

As their creator I don't like to qualify which projects are more unique or recognized. To me, each project has meaning and merit - whether they were early, small scale projects, or more recent large scale ones.

I am as proud of the delicate urban canopy project I did for the Coffee Club on Orchard Road (Singapore) as I am of The River, a 71 storey high-rise residential project in Bangkok.

whitehouse park

I try to approach each project with a view to creating something - as opposed to engineering something. This pays double dividends in that the process of design, which can all too quickly become "routine", remains fresh and explorative, whilst leading to a building that has merit and will hopefully survive the test of time.

If pressed, I would highlight the following projects as milestones in my career:
  • Whitehouse Park - a private house in Singapore featured on the cover of the book "Tropical Houses"
  • The Heights - a 52-unit hillside residential development in Phuket based on an Italian hilltown concept. This project was awarded best condo in Thailand in its day.
  • Northpoint - a twin tower, high rise beachfront condominium project; our first completed high rise project.
  • The River - Thailands tallest residential building (at 71 storeys and 256m) and one of Bangkok's largest inner city developments (over 2 million square feet). It was awarded "Southeast Asia's Best Condominium" at last year's (2012) Southeast Asia Property Awards.
  • The Gateway - a recently launched project for Tata Housing in New Delhi is a massive housing development based on a dynamic "Manhattan" skyline concept. It was recently launched as, despite India being in a slowdown period, was heavily oversubscribed.
Architecture is seldom seen without the prefix sustainable; what does sustainable architecture mean to you and how have you successfully been incorporating sustainability into your designs?

Sustainable is one of many words used in the context of ecologically responsive design. Ultimately, it's just a word and it can be easily abused and misrepresented.

The key thing, I believe, is to have the right intention - that is to try to be as responsible and efficient with our resources and the way our structures are used.

My approach to ecologically responsive design is subject to the exact same process I use for any other aspect of design. Multiple issues are explored and tested - ranging from orientation, material technology and performance. What "works" or doesn't depends on more factors than just theoretical performance. Practical concerns, budget, market forces and maintenance are just a few of the other criteria that come into play when assessing what is appropriate.

I am proud to say that we are always trying to push the envelope of the "possible" on all of our projects. This intention manifests in myriad ways depending on context, client, and project specifics.

Northpoint in Pattaya - Thailand was one of the first large-scale residential projects to adopt double-glazing for all apartment windows. The River in Bangkok - Thailand introduced water-cooled, split-unit AC systems into a residential project. President Place, our first office building in Vietnam was awarded LEED Gold certification. Marvel Edge, in Pune - India, a 40m tall groundscraper (stretching over 200m in length) has been pre-certified as LEED Platinum.

Since how long you are providing your services in India and what inspired you to enter into this region. How are you blending your architectural expertise in Indian architecture which is quite different and contemporary?

I was first approached in 2008 by Marvel Realtors from Pune. They had seen some of my work in Thailand and came to Singapore to discuss working with them in India.

This led to our first project. Since then our portfolio has grown to over 15 projects with almost 13 million square feet of real estate.

I have found the projects that we are doing to be extremely challenging, both in terms of scale and complexity. In addition to dealing with the unique aspects of building in India, there are the differences of climate, culture, and market demands.

If you are asking how our work is different in India from others in other countries, the answer also goes back to process. The solutions we seek are driven by the project specific questions we ask, therefore they are, by default "Indian" as far as we are concerned.

Marvel Edge

Please tell us something about the ongoing projects KYRA and Marvel EDGE in Pune, India and their USPs.When do you expect the projects will get completed?

Marvel Edge is nearing completion. The first tenant will be moving in towards the end of this year, so the construction completion is being phased to suit - the completion of the whole project will be sometime in 2013.

It has been a challenging project due to its size, geometry and the sophistication of the façade systems.

The curved plan, combined with the layered façade (curtain wall, terraces, solar screen) has resulted in a journey of design, detailing and fabrication. This is always the case when innovation and exploration are involved. The task of translating design into reality is another journey in and of itself - no less "design" than the creation of the architectural ideas.

Kyra has had its own challenges. Being a highrise project it is subject to significant movement under earthquake conditions. Linking the 3 towers with sky decks required considerable structural innovation.

In terms of statutory approvals, it also ran into some challenges with the 100m height being questioned. This issue now seems to be almost resolved, so we are looking forward to seeing the project go on site soon.

You designed number of projects for Pune region and have confined yourself to that city. Are you planning to move to other part of the country as well? What are your thoughts on maintaining and growing your practice?

We started out working in Pune and our growth there has been hinged entirely on one client - Marvel Realtors. Our work tends to lead to repeat clients - a product of a "satisfied client" and the developer market.

In the past 2 years, we have worked with other developers in different cities:
  • Peninsula Land in Bangalore
  • Tata Housing in New Delhi
  • Sheth Creators in Mumbai
We see India as a long-term growth market and are keen to be involved with visionary clients with intentions of creating exceptional architecture.

You have been bestowed with several recognitions and Awards; please shed some lights on your milestone achievements.

I honestly don't actively pursue or follow what awards my projects garner. Some projects have received acclaim from various professional bodies, but the most important accolade should be if the building is well received by those it was designed for.

Would you like to share any of your incidences that has changed your line of thinking and brought a new revolution in your designs?

I don't believe in revolution - it's all about evolution!

What would you recommend to a future architecture student?
  • Stay humble - remember, we provide a service.
  • Dream big, but keep your feet on the ground.
  • Learn to communicate and collaborate - they will be invaluable skillsets in your career.


Emerald Hill
Client: Lasalle Inv. Mangmnt.
Location: Singapore
Located footsteps away from Orchard Road, 111 Ermerald Hill, the project is created as an exclusive and intimate residential haven that is grounded in tradition and balance and yet strives for the best of contemporary, urban living. This development offers a comprehensive suite of recreational facilities and houses 40 exclusive luxury apartments offering sweeping views of Ochard Road and beyond.

When investigating the best design for the site a premium was placed on the ability to create an environment of space, privacy and luxury. Building position and orientation were extensively studied in order to ensure unobstructed prime views out from every unit.

The low-rise curved form fulfils the promise of uncompromised views, while at the same time creating a new landmark within the Emerald Hill district. The building was completed in 2011.

185 Rajadamri

Ext Night

Client: Raimon land
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Floor Area: 65,000 square metres

185 Rajadamri was conceived as a new benchmark for grade A+ living in Bangkok. Located in the heart of Bangkok's CBD with expansive and unassailable views across Lumpinipark and the Royal Bangkok Sports club and the property is poised to become the most sought after residential property in the city. The building was carefully designed to maximise views, and the cleverly designed floorplate allows the flexibilty to create a wide range of innovative unit types while still delivering great efficiency. A multi-million dollar sales office has recently been completed. The main building has begun construction with completion targeted in 2013.

Marvel Kyra

Kyra Updated Elevation V2

Client: Marvel Realtors
Location: Pune, India
Floor Area: 452,000 square metres
The project Marvel Kyra heightened Marvel's philosophy of premium lifestyle apartments and gives luxury a whole new meaning with 'living in the sky'. The Kyra homes are 'homes in the sky' - complete with large double-storey outdoor living decks, landscaping and a private pool that embellishes every unit.

The expansive floor sizes and the dramatic outdoor spaces give one the feeling of a large house, as opposed to an apartment. All the units face towards north or south and hence offer unobstructed views and exceptional cross-ventilation.

Multiple communal zones are housed within the towers - in the two sky boxes. Irrespective of which apartment one live in, he/she will still have the opportunity to spend quality leisure time 'up in the sky', with the lounge, gym and dining restaurant all situated in these plush sky-boxes.

"Kyra aims to exceed client expectations by not giving them what they want but by showing them what they never could have imagined they could have - a life in the sky,"- Hans.

Trends 2019

"Future of the building material industry is very optimistic, especially for safe and environment-friendly products," says Ashwin Reddy, Director, Aparna Enterprises, while giving a perspective on the construction activities in the real estate sector Demand for energy-efficient, environment-friendly, sturdy, light and safe products will continue to be strongAshwin Reddy According to industry estimates, the building material industry is currently valued at $126 billion, employing around 40... Read More ...

Architectural Voices of India by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta

Bengaluru-based author and award-winning architectural journalist, Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta brings together luminaries of the architecture fraternity, for a discourse on architecture and planning in India, its evolution, and a sharing of their journey in the field. The diverse voices of architects Karan Grover, Brinda Somaya, Hafeez Contractor, Shiv Datt Sharma, Christopher Benninger, Ravindra Bhan, Parul Zaveri and Nimish Patel, Raj Rewal, Prem Nath, Sandeep Khosla, BV Doshi, Sanjay Puri, Sonali... Read More ...

Ravi & Nupur Architects

Ravi & Nupur Architects
Ravi & Nupur Architects is a design consultation firm, established in 2009, headed by Architects Ravi & Nupur Jain, with the aim of design of built environment that prioritizes the occupant’s need & quality of life in coordination with social & natural environment.Ravi & Nupur Architects is a professional architect and interior designing firm, based in Jodhpur. The firm was established in 2009 by Ar. Ravi Jain, now principal architect, in 2009 and later joined by Ar. Nupur Patwa in 2013,... Read More ...

Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas

Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas
Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas studied at the Architecture Faculty of the Universidad Iberoamericana. He has made an enormous contribution to architectural development and style in Mexico, improving the environment and quality of life for users. His professional life, with over 30 years of experience as an architect and developer, has been highly prolific, with approximately 180 projects designed, over nine million square meters constructed, and around 2.5 million sqm developed.Sordo Madaleno has won... Read More ...

The Material Palette

Interior designers and architects are experimenting with a host of building materials, from the traditional to the most modern, to offer infinite interior design optionsCompiled by Seema Gupta Interior spaces in India have never been so uniquely designed and furnished. Along with the new products in the market, the age-old traditional time-tested and eco-friendly materials continue to find favour. According to Sachin Gupta of Beyond Designs, home decor is the best way to inject your... Read More ...

Greenbuild India

One of our main focus is preparing for the next 20+ years and sustaining LEED’s explosive growth trajectory. So, in the last few years, we have shifted our vision to prepare ourselves for the future, writes Mahesh Ramanujam, President & CEO, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI)More than 20 years ago, the USGBC started as a vision; today, it is an unparalleled community of sustainability-focused and like-minded people responsible for anchoring one of the... Read More ...

Ar. Hiren Patel

Ar. Hiren Patel
In my architectural practice since 1989, I have gone through several ups and downs, small ones and big ones... growing with every challenge... adapting to prevailing conditions to tide me through the worst crisis. This journey has taught me through wonderful experience to introspect about the intricate idiom with ease.In my quest for excellence, I have poured into my work passion, commitment, wholehearted enthusiasm, hope and my energy and I hope to maintain such a level of integrity and... Read More ...

Ar. Galal Mahmoud

Ar. Galal Mahmoud
The Sofitel Tamuda Bay's architecture and interior design were conceived by us as a smooth and seamless transition between indoors and outdoors. Moroccan culture and craftsmanship are rich in colour and texture and are highly characteristic of this Mediterranean civilization which has evolved over many centuries. The use of innovative materials and methods allowed me to reinterpret this traditional lifestyle into a contemporary language. A telling example is the use of Plexiglas to create the... Read More ...

Ar. Sanjay Arora/ Ar. Sanchit Arora, Renesa Architecture Studio

Ar. Sanjay Arora/ Ar. Sanchit Arora, Renesa Architecture Studio
Renesa Studio and architectural & interior design consulting firm based in New Delhi, is led by Sanjay Arora, Principal Architect & Founder, along with his son Sanchit Arora, Studio Head Architect. Renesa Studio has partnerships with industry leaders who include landscape specialists, contracting firms, furniture manufacturers, etc. The added benefit of these partnerships is that Renesa ensures on-time and on-budget completion of projects. Sanchit Arora holds a bachelor's degree in... Read More ...

Ar. Rajiv Khanna/ Ar. Sabeena Khanna, KIA design studio

Ar. Rajiv Khanna/ Ar. Sabeena Khanna, KIA design studio
Each project designed is unique to its site and setting, planning and purpose, having a strong sense of belonging. My designs seek inspiration from real life" Ar. Rajiv KhannaI believe in Leonardo Da Vinci's "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Besides, "Life is short so lets build stuff that matters" Ar. Sabeena KhannaKIA stands for Kreate, Inspire, and Achieve. The team at the design studio seeks inspiration from nature, which offers a varied palette of colors, shapes, forms, and... Read More ...

Ar. Prashant Chauhan/ Ar. Anu Chauhan, Zero9

Ar. Prashant Chauhan/ Ar. Anu Chauhan, Zero9
Prashant Chauhan scales beyond the boundaries of architecture to explore other design disciplines. His belief 'Design is Boundless' is at the core of his Zero9, which deals with projects in architecture, advertising, interior, and exhibition design. Winner of national and international design awards, he enjoys sharing his thoughts with aspiring architects at Rizvi College of Architecture, where he began his quest for lifelong learning. He also has a passion for travel, photography, and... Read More ...

Ar. Himanshu Patel, d6thD Design Studio

Ar. Himanshu Patel, d6thD Design Studio
"d6thD refers to the 6th dimension to "feel good". The 6th dimension is not restricted to measure the physical world but to explore the Feel Good Spaces. Any object or space can be measured in 3-D, but to feel good about it, is the 6thD. We design to let one feel good, and we are interested in exploring ways in which spaces can create experiential happiness. So we are passionate about design, but driven by ideas rather than personalities. We visualise the practice as a sheltered and... Read More ...

Michiel Hofman, Patrick Meijers and Jeroen Schipper, Orange Architects

Orange Architects
Orange Architects was established in 2010 by Michiel Hofman, Patrick Meijers and Jeroen Schipper as a multidisciplinary design firm, working in the field of architecture, interior design and urban planning. The goal is to create inspiring, powerful and rich environments in every design-scale from urban (re)-development to product design; collective housing to luxurious villas; and office planning to private interiors. The firm has been working on ambitious projects in The Netherlands, Russia... Read More ...

Ar. Mario Romano

Ar. Mario Romano
"I like materials like Aluminum and Corian that can bend and flex, and offer performance, making the home cooler in the heat and dryer in the rain. It’s not just art, it’s the expression mixed with building science. There is also the opportunity to explore lush variation, intricacy and taking the lines and directing them with out the limitations of scale or format. I want to draw the lines wherever I want to... wherever they want to... lines can attract to release... like music.. or more... Read More ...

Ar. Rajiv Khanna and Ar. Meenakshi Khanna, GRID plc

Ar. Rajeev Khanna/ Ar. Meenakshi Khanna
GRID plc is a leading International Architects & Interior firm based in New Delhi, under the Leadership of Architects RAJIV & MEENAKSHI KHANNA. Specialist in Contemporary Architecture, RAJIV KHANNA – B.ARCH. (Hons.) IIT Kharagpur' 85, has a vast experience of Project Management / Coordination and designing of Commercial spaces as well as Malls, Hotels, Resorts, and Social Cultural Project.MEENAKSHI KHANNA – B.ARCH. (Hons.) IIT Kharagpur' 88, also comes with a bundle of talent and wide... Read More ...

Access to Good Design

Shezaan Bhojani Gita Ramanan
Design Café aims to make good design accessible, quick, and affordable Award-winning architects and designers, Gita Ramanan and Shezaan Bhojani, bring more than two decades of national and international design experience to the construction industry. Design Café founded by the duo in 2011, today has a team of 45 professionals and a portfolio of over 500 completed projects across the country. These include homes, apartments, offices, restaurants, showrooms, schools, and hotels ranging from 1000... Read More ...
MGS Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

New Building Material & Construction World

New Building Material & Construction World

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week