Top Architects | September 2011
Shirish Beri: Shirish Beri & Associates
Born: 30th November, 1950
Firm: Shirish Beri & Associates
"It is very difficult for me to separate architecture from life. Any worthwhile architecture or design has to be life enhancing.
I believe that space is an essential ingredient of life and the true medium of architecture. While exploring the concept of space, I have always encountered an intrinsic relationship between our measurable outer space of physical action and our immeasurable inner space within our consciousness and psyche. The quality of space that we design can influence us (our inner space) in a positive or negative manner.
If this is so, then I ask myself whether my architecture can address some of my concerns in life. I ask, can I design spaces that would help in connecting us to nature? Could the quality of our spaces help in bringing us closer to each other? Can I design spaces with the pauses and silences that help us connect to ourselves? Can architecture become an expression of our human spirit, where the measurable and the immeasurable work together?"
These are the thoughts that give wing to the designs of this Kolhapur-based architect, whose work has made a distinct mark on modern Indian architecture since 1975. Beri's designs try to achieve a sense of unity and harmony with various natural and man-made elements and forces; his vast repertoire - the many homes and institutional projects he has designed - bears testimony to this strong belief in the intertwining relationship between architecture, natural elements and human life.
Before starting my own practice I was... Contemplating working for an institution like Auroville or staying on a farm in the mountains, growing potatoes and baking cakes.
My own practice started after... I joined my father's practice with its infrastructural support and with complete freedom of design and freedom to stay in the nearby mountains.
My firm believes that... We, as architects, should make at least a small improvement in the users' quality of life.
My most creatively satisfying projects... Are the houses I designed, which gave me much creative pleasure - current favourites are underway, like the Lake House on a residential scale and the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species at Hyderabad on an institutional scale.
Major turning points in my career were brought on by... Innumerable happenings, which, when appropriately confronted, lived and pondered upon, have become small and big turning points in my life, allowing a continuous evolution.
Experience has taught me that... There is always so much to learn.
Architecture (designed by someone else) that I admire is... Tadao Ando's 'Chapel on the Water', IM Pie's Louvre Pyramid, Snøhetta's Opera House in Oslo, amongst many others.
My dream project is... A truly zero-energy project built with minimum embodied energy, consuming minimum end-use energy and using maximum renewable and recycled energy.
I enjoy experimenting with... Life.
Construction materials that I love... Are all natural materials - stones, for example, are beautiful, have less embodied energy, sustain a lot of abuse and are easy to maintain.
I look up to... An architect whose work is an honest expression of his humanitarian warmth, transparent integrity and spirituality.
My biggest inspiration... Has been 'Nature' and indigenous, vernacular architecture.
I owe my success to... Honestly adhering to my values in life and architecture.
I would describe myself as... A person thoroughly in love with life, trying to enjoy every moment of my journey - be it in the guise of an architect, painter, poet, farmer, friend, husband, father, son, employer or employee.