Sanjay Puri Founder, Sanjay Puri Architects
Reading Fountainhead at 16 made me want to be an architect. My first job began on my 18th birthday when I joined Hafeez Contractor who instilled in me the belief that one could achieve what one wants if one tries hard enough amongst all the other knowledge that he imparted to me.
I took admission in the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai after already having visited numerous sites and making all kinds of drawings from presentation to working drawings. Through all five years of college, I continued to work and even before my college results were declared, I was made an Associate.
In 1992, I began my practice at the age of 27 working largely with real estate developers. I have deliberately kept my practice midsize with strength of 72 so that each project gets personal attention. Over a period of time, gradually a shift in focus happened and my office got commissions for hospitality and other kinds of projects. Today we are involved in over a 100 projects of all kinds including master planning, hospitality, residential, offices, retail, interior design, educational and cultural projects.
Architects that I read about in school are now friends or acquaintances and I have learnt a lot from them. In addition, participating in international competitions and conferences has allowed me to gain an insight into different aspects of architecture with vastly differing solutions and contextual responses. For instance, the World Architecture Festival being held for last nine years is amongst the most significant of the international forums I have attended. It allows one to glimpse varied architectural designs from across the world in detail.
In 2010, I became the first Indian architect to be included in the judging panel of the World Architecture Festival and since then have been a judge for six years and now I am on the advisory panel too.
Having won over a 100 international awards that include eight World Architecture Festival awards , five Chicago Athenaeum Awards, five Architizer New York Awards and others , my entire focus now is on creating a new direction for Indian architecture. These awards are global recognition of Indian architecture and have served to reinforce our belief in evolving contextual design directions. However, large or small a project is, we have to create a contextual sustainable design solution that belongs to India holistically and this is what my practice aims to work towards.
India is witnessing a quantum growth in urbanization and too many buildings that lack character are being built. The need of the hour is to pause and reflect on the status of Indian architecture. We need to create sustainable design solutions in the Indian context.