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A firm with a formula

Aabhas Sharma  |  New Delhi 

Architecture studio Morphogenesis is looking at new ways to combine efficiency with sustainability.
Sustainability is the keyword for all the work that Delhi-based Morphogenesis studio has been doing or has done in the past.
Actually, calling it a Delhi-based architecture firm doesn't give the whole picture, for it will soon be launching its overseas operations in London and Doha.
And with projects being done across the country "" from cities like Siliguri to Amarnath in Kashmir "" Morphogenesis is now looking at giving something back to the fraternity. "We will soon be launching an architecture academy in Delhi," informs Manit Rastogi, the firm's managing director.
Rastogi feels that there is a severe shortage of talent and points out that this is due to the kind of teaching that existing architectural schools provide. "The idea was there in place for quite some time and the first academic session will commence next year."
Coming back to the issue of sustainability, Rastogi explains, "Before taking up any project, we look at four sustainable factors "" economic, environmental, social and cultural." The use of materials which take up less energy and help in correcting solar radiations allows the firm to be environmentally sustainable.
For instance, the 75,000 sq ft BPTP Park in Gurgaon allows a lot of natural daylight to come in and hence helps in conserving energy. Attention is paid to details such as the drainage system in different areas and proper research is conducted to find out the history of the site.
Rastogi feels that most architects in India try to ape Western styles while designing a corporate office or, for that matter, any residential complex.
"We are not in America where a CEO might sit with the common employee. Here the big boss has to have a huge cabin with sofas and thus there is a bit of a social divide." It is areas like these which Morphogenesis tries to focus on. "We still have huge cabins but make sure that they aren't isolated from the rest of the employees."
In fact, even residential homes are being designed in such a manner that people hardly interact with neighbours. "The flats are so far off from each other that people don't socialise much, unlike in the past."
The economics of any project is the key to its successful design and Rastogi says that by bringing down the operational costs, they look to maintain economic sustainability.
One thing that the firm is dead against is the idea of concept designs and it is something which, in Rastogi's words, "we have never practiced and would never do so". A lot of architects tend to get concept designs made from countries and use it in India.
"The idea of the front-end being handled by us and the back-end by someone else never appeals as it takes away the essence of the culture of the place you are designing."
The use of materials such as glass, steel, mud and wood is pretty common to most of Morphogenesis's designs, but Rastogi says that a lot of emphasis is laid on research.
As for recent work that Morphogenesis has been doing, Rastogi says they have just completed a complete township in Siliguri, spanning 50,000 sq ft.
What about the overseas offices? "Well, we dwelled on the idea for some time as we had been regularly invited to start operations in other countries. But with our own school coming up, we thought it was the right time."
The architecture school is something which the firm is really committed to, as one can make out when Rastogi talks about it. "The idea is to adopt a three-pronged strategy for the school: academics, research and then practice."
A lot of people opting to go abroad for degrees in architecture, something which even Rastogi did about 10 years ago, was quite a common practice in the past "" Rastogi attributes this to the lack of work floating around at that point of time.
But now, with the incredible real estate boom happening all across the country and new projects coming up almost every day, the opportunity for growth is immense. What about sustainability for the school? "We know it is going to be a no-profit situation for quite some time "" but it is something which we really wanted to do."
From a garage setup 10 years ago to overseas offices and their own architectural school, it seems like the firm has worked out its own sustainability formula!

First Published: Sat, May 26 2007. 00:00 IST