Posted inHot 100 HOT 100 - 2017


Parul Zaveri & Nimish Patel
Parul Zaveri & Nimish Patel
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The roots
All of seven years old, Parul Zaveri watched her house being built in Ahmedabad, a keen observer of the process of discussion and designing. This, coupled with travels to villages, places of historic and religious significance as well as newer developments of art deco and modern architectural styles, got her interested in built forms. For Nimish Patel, architecture was not a clear option – but inspired by parents and maternal grandparents who were nationalists, a career which had the potential to make a definitive and responsible contribution towards society, in general, was!

The nurturing
Patel received his diploma in Architecture from CEPT, Ahmedabad (1972) and has studied at the MIT, Cambridge, USA, with specialisation in Urban Settlement Design in Developing Countries (1973-76). “At CEPT, Prof BV Doshi opened our eyes, removed our fears and goaded us to ask the question ‘Why not’. At MIT, Prof Horacio Caminos urged us to ask the question ‘Why’ to keep us grounded.” Thus, the boundaries of Patel’s conduct are defined by these two questions.

Also a diploma holder in Architecture from CEPT (1978), Zaveri carried out a part of her studies in specific course works in planning at MIT, Cambridge (USA) in 1975-76.  She then worked with visionary architect Paolo Soleri in Arizona, USA. “We learnt to think in an unconventional way, looking at all-encompassing life and not through a narrow vision of architecture alone,” she says, adding that it was CEPT’s Prof Neil Bareily who taught her to understand the needs of clients through their lifestyle and respond to that within given constraints.

The fruits
Abhikram – ‘initiation’ in Sanskrit – was established in 1979, with an aim of exploring design directions and processes which make the built environment functionally, psychologically, environmentally and spiritually more contextual and more comfortable. “In the initial stages, we didn’t know which direction our office would take, but we knew which direction it would not take,” say the architects who are inspired by nature, traditional knowledge and wisdom, crafts and craftspersons, free thinkers and people with commitments to their fields. In 1987, they added two streams to the practice: “of conserving cultural heritage of our regions; and making new buildings using traditional materials, technologies, processes, crafts and craftspersons.” They are now diversifying more into an advisory role in settlement planning, conservation, settlements architecture and sustainable interior design practices.

The turning points
Policies of Conservation of Udaipur City for INTACH, The Oberoi Udaivilas, Digantar Rural School, Amber Haveli, Torrent Research Centre, Balprasoon Classroom, Udaipur Palace Complex’s site planning, restoration, renovation and interiors are cited as milestones, “because each one of them has initiated a new direction with its design methodologies, processes and desirable as well as responsible consequences.”

The destination
Patel dreams of designing and building a self-contained and self-sufficient residential unit, in settlements like Dharavi, which would accommodate all the needs of its residents in a sustainable manner. Zaveri also dreams of self-sufficiency – but for clusters of villages to reduce migration, using traditional knowledge and wisdom in all aspects of life. In the meantime, they will continue sharing their lessons with students and young professionals, besides offering advisory consultancy to projects…

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