Interview of Architect P.R.S Sivakumar, Madurai
Please tell us a bit about your design philosophy?
I do have strong design philosophies & beliefs. I always tell myself that architecture is not just another form of other arts. With other forms of art, after the art is completed, the “Patron” or the “Receiver” or the “Viewer” may like it or may not like it. If it was not liked, the sculpture need not be displayed by the patron, a painting need not be hung on the wall, a music need not be listened to. But the art of architecture deals with built forms in which people live / work / enjoy / have entertainment. And so we as architects have a greater responsibility to stay true to the fundamentals.
What has been your most defining moment so far?
My most defining moment in my professional life – the moment which gave a big boost and thrust to my career came in the year 1995, when I was called by the Senior General Manager one of the biggest & famous Hotel Giants of India for an interview. He had heard about me through one of my Corporate Clients. This Hotel Group usually engages “Branded Architects” from Bombay, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, etc or architects from abroad for their very large scale projects. I told him that till that time I had not done very high – end, sophisticated buildings and showed him my presentation drawings and detailed drawings and conceptual drawings of my award winning Architectural Thesis Project done in college and a few other sophisticated designs done in college. Impressed by them he said I should give a serious try to a new luxury rooms block next to the swimming pool. He also said that my designs have to first get approved by the president of that group at Madras (now Chennai) and later by the C.O.O. of that Group, Bombay (now Mumbai). I felt quite nervous but he gave me lot of encouragement and I was given exposure to their sophisticated designs at their famous 5-star hotels in Chennai. After that I gave alternative proposals for the new building and to my excitement and pleasant surprise, my designs were ultimately approved by the C.O.O. and the Board of Directors at Mumbai. And they gave clearance to engage me as their architect for this new building block at Madurai – with responsibilities to render Comprehensive Design Services as well as Comprehensive Supervision Services of the project. I was really excited because till then, even in larger cities, a local architect was engaged only as “Project Architect” – meaning he was not the designer but he oversaw the supervision and interpreted the designer’s drawings and co-ordinated with the designer & contractor & the management for completing the construction. But I was engaged as the primary designer and conceptualizer for architecture as well as for interior design. The project was a success to me – and later I also did renovations for some existing buildings & interiors also. But their first project was a real landmark project for me in my career. Because this Hotel Giant engaged me as their architect, other elite people in and around Madurai engaged me as their architects. These were the people who used to go to Chennai or Bangalore to engage “ Branded Architects ” from there. My architectural practice took a giant leap from thereon! Another most defining moment – but a very different one was with another Giant Hotel Group of India, again for luxury rooms project. After the designs and concepts were approved by the Board of Directors, Mumbai, I was confronted with something that I could not handle. The Hotel Group C.O.O., ( Mumbai ) who was next to the chairman, in position, had called me for a personal discussion at one of their famous 5 star Hotels at Cochin where he had come to take a holiday. I was quite excited that the C.O.O. himself had called me. I stayed there for 3 days – but it was no excitement for me. The C.O.O. wanted me to finish the entire set of Working Drawings, Structural Drawings. Construction & Tender Documents in 40 days time and call for tender on the 41st day. That was an impossible task for me with my tiny infrastructure of 5 staff. I wanted 90 days. He said he knew very well that I had only a tiny office. So he suggested that I concentrate on their project alone for those 40 days and that I would be very well compensated for the loss of productivity with my other projects!!. This “ Preaching ” went on for 2 days! During tea on the second evening, he proposed doubling of my fees!! I gave a final and stout No and decided to leave the project! I would never let down my other clients who too had total faith in me. A 40 days lapse with other projects would leave quite a few projects stranded for want of my drawings. I was not going to let down my well – wishing clients who gave me continuous projects. Finally, on the morning of the 3rd day at breakfast, the C.O.O. accepted my withdrawal and sarcastically “appreciated” me for my loyalty to my permanent clients !! This time, my refusal to such a Hotel Giant of India’s project brought tremendous good will to me from my other clients. My moral integrity stood proven at that time!
How willing are clients for Green Design today?
I will tell you my experience of my green design for a hosiery garment manufacturing unit. It was my first Green Building project – and the only one which I have done so far! The clients already had other units and they were exporting garments to Europe. This new unit was intended to supply garments to 2 of the very famous garment giants of the world who insisted that their products had to come from a green building. Had it not been for their clients’ insistence for a green certificate, they may not have gone in for a green building. Talking about Green Buildings here in South India – IMHO and as far as I know – it is only rarely someone wants to go green willingly by themselves. Because the cost of the building goes very high and also the total built-up area becomes very low with respect to the site area – depending on the type of the building. So there has to be some form of compulsion – from the consumer side – like what happened for this building or say, if it is a Hotel, it may attract more foreigners as they are now keen on Green Hotels and the like. So unless the Green Building brought more returns to the entrepreneurs, they don’t go for it. High costs prohibit Green Buildings” here in my region
Source: Zingy Homes