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Architects Take | May 2014

Art of design

Architect Manish Kumat from Indore shares some of his landmark projects.

Abhikalpan Architects is a leading architectural firm in Indore striving continuously to bring mainstream design and architecture to the city. Established by Architect Manish Kumat, a post graduate from School of Planning and Architecture Delhi, the firm has executed several projects in and around Indore that are an embodiment of Kumat's philosophy of infusing modern architecture with age old wisdom handed down over generations. Fired by an ambitious zeal and a practical approach to design and construction, Kumat is also the founder-chairman of Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID) Indore. SUMISHA GILOTRA speaks to him to learn more about his work, and showcases three distinct projects from his repertoire...

ART OF LIVING

Kumat's favourite project, The Art of Living Centre in Indore, speaks volumes about the philosophy of the founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Located in the outskirts of the city and surrounded by hills, it has a lot of green, open land around it. A sloping roof and a wide entrance with steps and mounds of greenery in front present an inviting facade. The balanced form of the building is derived from a square as it is the perfect shape for meditation and concentration. All the class rooms are square in shape.

Nurturing tradition

An entrance gate in wood in the middle of the pathway makes an interesting entry, while a terracotta mural at the entrance is a feature included by the designer in the interest of revival of the lost art and culture of the country. The artist who created this was handpicked from Nathdwara and the theme for the mural was designed to depict the education system.

Natural charm

This is a low-cost project, the cost of the project being a mere Rs 700 / sq ft. Exposed brickwork without plaster and terracotta Taylor tiles as a roofing material are used, while the planning has been done in such a way that all classrooms face the green courtyard. There is ample natural light and ventilation and a low level of dependency on artificial lighting. A big play room or an activity room at the centre of the open court is again an eye-catching feature. The two longer sides of the class rooms are of continuous glass, designed to catch the maximum green views.

  • Plot Area: 1.85 acre
  • Built up area: 41,516.21 sq ft
  • Cost: Rs 700 / sq ft

Mittal House

Designing a residence calls for giving it a personalised touch, a unique character and a warm, homely aura. Kumat brings in this warmth as well as a touch of glamour for the sprawling 2,874.64 sq ft Mittal house, which is home to a family of five.

Traditional accents

The double height living room has a beautiful dining table with silver-leafed top and legs. It has wooden bench seating. The three hanging lights on a thin wooden strip on the ceiling are the highlight in this room. The vanity near it, with a delicate wooden carving and a wooden basin placed against stone mosaic cladding on the back wall, adds an old world charm to the d├ęcor.

Detailed delight

At the staircase landing level, there is a gorgeous sleeping Buddha in golden colour. Intricate handwork like the delicate carving on the wooden bed in the master bedroom is repeated on the ceiling in the form of wooden brackets. Ample use of white and excellent planning make this house stand out as an ode to the designer's skill. With designs as thoughtful as these, Kumat keeps the torch of modern interior design burning bright in the historic city of Indore.

Why did you choose to become an architect?
In our times, there were only two major streams, Engineering and Medical. I graduated with Honours in civil engineering from Indore. Even while doing engineering, I was studying design magazines like Inside-Outside, Architecture+ Design, etc, out of inherent interest. I still have a collection of old issues dating way back to 1990's. I went to Delhi to prepare for the civil services examinations. Destiny took over and I got admission to do post-graduation from School of Planning and Architecture. While studying with architects, I found my calling.

Tell us about some of your landmark projects
We have designed the first Art of Living School in Central India at Indore. This school, on the outskirts of the city and located amidst the mountains, is designed organically to be close to nature. We have designed Symbiotec Pharma, a huge pharmaceutical company, at Pithampur SEZ, and the first ever modern tehsil in India at Jabalpur under the redensifictaion project of the Madhya Pradesh government, wherein surplus land was used to build 128 flats. We have designed the first 4D theatre, 'Storm', in Central India at C21 Mall, Indore.

Which is your favourite project?
The school designed for 'Art of Living' is close to my heart. It is developed on an area of two acres on a shoe-string budget of just two crores. It was a great challenge to fit the design within the budget constraint of the client. The school has created a precedent in terms of affordable school design; Sri Sri Ravishankar, the founder of 'Art of Living' foundation, said that it should be a role model for the entire country.

What inspires your designs?
A designer always takes inspirations from nature. I observe mundane things around me, and if they give me joy, I ask myself, why? This is a process of observation, which is always an ongoing process, and is reflected in my design. The perception of a designer is based on his interpretations of the world around him. My design philosophy tries to learn from the wisdom of the old masters and to utilise the knowledge of their timeless creations in modern day contemporary design.

What would your message to upcoming architects be?
The new system of education is creating typecasts. It is encouraging 'Cut-Copy-Paste design'. Architecture cannot follow a set format for solving complex situations. Innovation has to happen in education, encouraging students to learn by observing and appreciating originality.

A lot of glamour has entered the field, which becomes an easy distraction for the students. My message to students is that there is no substitute for hard work. Work hard towards your goal, and somewhere your dreams start getting fulfilled.

Meet the designer: Manish Kumat

Firm:Abhikalpan Architects founded in 1993.
Firm Specialisation: Architecture, interior design, project management
Design philosophy: There is no substitute for hardwork.
Philosophy towards life: Aparigrah - take only as much as you need.
Favourite architect/Designer: Geoffrey Bawa, Sanjay Mohe and Dipen Gada.

CONTACT:

Abhikalpan Architects, 6-7-8, Shantiniketan, 'Aananda' Behind Bombay Hospital, Indore-452 010.

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