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Architects Take | April 2013

Global outlook

Prasoon Shrivastava, Director of Arkiplan International, brings home years of experience and learning gained from building landmark structures abroad...

Delhi-based firm Arkiplan International Architects is creating waves in the industry by bringing in international design experience and fusing it with Indian requirements. Their project Cyberwalk, part of an IT campus located in Manesar, Gurgaon was conferred the Best Office Development by Asia Pacific Property Awards. This firm established in Dubai in 2005 and in New Delhi in 2010 is sure one to look out for. Prasoon Shrivastava, Director, Arkiplan International began his professional career in 2002 in Jabalpur, India, as a partner at R K & Associates. During the initial years, he focused mainly on projects located in central India. He was involved in the design of many prestigious residential, commercial and institutional projects. As a firm believer of "We learn until we die", Shrivastava always ensured that professional learning is an integral part of a progressive entrepreneur. He also pursued sustainability in various forms. In 2007, he learned how to make structures with earth (soil) and the sample project executed was presented in MIT Boston, USA. He became a LEED AP from US Green Building Council in 2008 and subsequently was part of GRIHA, India's green rating system.

He joined hands with Arkiplan in 2009 to establish an exclusive consultancy for green buildings in Dubai (UAE) under the flagship of Arkiplan. Shrivastava went on to partner with Arkiplan in 2010 to establish Arkiplan International Architects in India and since then has been the active director for India operations. SUMISHA ARORA speaks to him on his experiences of working in the Middle East and India and the projects he has spearheaded.

Tell us a bit about your firm and its operations in India and Dubai.
We are a team of experienced and young professionals committed to undertaking our work with integrity and professionalism, and promise a level of excellence and commitment that will lead to long lasting partnerships with our clients. Since 2004, we have successfully executed projects worth more than four billion dollars. We are committed to leveraging the power of global insight to bring exceptional expertise to every assignment.

Arkiplan is known for contributing well-designed, imaginative solutions to complex design problems, while remaining sensitive to the environment and embracing the highest technological standards. Our intellectual curiosity and problem-solving techniques have led us to develop a wide-ranging portfolio that successfully merges high technology with humane and comfortable environments.

How does a foreign firm like yours gain approvals to work in India?
Arkiplan started the operations in India by opening the office of our Dubai company in India; however, we realised that opening a private limited company under the Registrar of Companies, India, would ease our operations. Hence, Arkiplan International Architects Private Limited was established in 2010.

What benefits does an Indian client have in hiring a firm like yours for a local project?
Many. Our quality of deliverables are as per international standards, our experience and expertise with new technology are better than those of our Indian counterparts. Knowledge of the latest global trends and techniques and our innate understanding of the local culture help us to strike the right balance with international quality deliverables. Arkiplan's strategic planning not only works on the client's present needs, but also anticipates and incorporates their possible future needs into the design process. Most importantly, we know how to deliver on time and always work in the interest of the project.

Do your projects in India have a local touch?
All our projects in India are in harmony with local context. Before we start designing a new project, we carry out a study of local areas at macro and micro level. However, we do not copy local architecture styles. Our designs are evolved around local context creating their own spatial experience, which is always end-user friendly.

What are your most prestigious projects and the ones closest to your heart?
One of the many special projects we have done in India is our first green building for the Government of India, namely, the International Centre for Environment Audit and Sustainable Development at Jaipur for the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. In Dubai, the 55-storey Latifa Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road is close to our heart as it was the first project of Arkiplan. Also, One and Only, a 7-star plus resort on Palm Jumeirah is very special, as we enjoyed the whole journey of design and construction. This is the first green building hotel in Dubai to be certified by LEED (USA).

What are the differences in working in India and the Middle East?
The Middle East construction industry is more evolved. It saw a period of spectacular boom that allowed the industry to evolve as per international standards with quality capacity to deliver and it has developed good managerial skills.

However, Indian construction industry suffers from capacity constraints, lack of trained manpower and managerial skills with performance much below international level. Though there are islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity, Indian companies must become global players by modernising, intensive training of their manpower, enhancing their turnover and change of mindset.

What is your dream project in India?
We hope that someday we can design the tallest building in India. Also, since there is a huge affordable housing deficit in India, we hope we can help our clients to bring down construction cost through efficient design and latest technology so that more and more Indians can afford to live in quality spaces.

What inspires you to design and create landmark structures?
We believe that art, architecture, culture and daily life of people unknown to us inspires to expand our creativity. We try to look at the rich abundance of the beauty of the earth that has been expressed in architecture through the centuries and then consider our place in the next expression.

Architects like Shrivastava, with their invaluable insights, expertise and a global outlook, bring fresh thoughts and healthy competition to the domestic architectural design scenario, thus providing the impetus for a positive change in the field.

CONTACT

Arkiplan International Architects, 210, DLF Tower B, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi - 110 044. Tel: 011-4645 8800.

Meet the architect: Prasoon Shrivastava

Firm: Arkiplan International Architects founded in Dubai in 2005 and in India in 2010.
Firm specialisation: Residential, commercial, healthcare and institutional, sustainable design.
Design philosophy: Our philosophy is to create contemporary sustainable designs with minimum environmental footprint.
Philosophy towards life: To meet the challenge of the present day without compromising the value and beliefs.
Favourite architect/Designer: Charles Correa, Hafeez Contractor, Norman Foster and Frank Gehry.

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