“Don’t judge a task by its scale – whatever the work, it requires to be approached with complete integrity and dedication” – Arch. Anil Chavda.
Arch. Anil Chavda, the Founder and Principal, is an alumni of the esteemed J.J. School of Architecture (Mumbai), having graduated as an Architect in the year 1980.
Early on, in his career he was involved in various projects in the exhibition design sector, after which he steadily moved into various other sectors.Thereafter, in 1985, he founded and consistently fueled the growth of Anil Chavda & Associates, which has now become a much respected and sought after practice. His commitment to the firm and its clients is evident through his accessibility and strong leadership, which has resulted in long lasting relationships with clients and his staff alike.
Following is the conversation we had with Mr. Chavda, regarding Architecture & Design –
Q: You are a well-known & renowned name in today’s Indian Architectural panorama – can you share a little bit about your foray into the architectural world after your student life and your establishment thereafter?
A: I have always had an artistic inclination since childhood and have a deep interest in forms, colors, textures and aesthetics. As a child, my artwork was sent for International Exhibitions and while growing up I had an earnest interest in developing my art and fulfilling my creative vocations. This eventually led to enrolment in JJ School of Arts, Mumbai, which was a perfect background to further develop my love for art into three-dimensional spaces, as an Architect. As with any educational experience, my time at JJ, gave me the requisite knowledge and my apprenticeship at a well-known architectural practice, allowed me to gain enough understanding to finally step into the world of Architecture and to bring my own perspective to it.
In fact, I have always had a clear idea about my sense of design and I was keen on bringing that instinct to the Architectural field, as I felt I had a fresh outlook, which was different to what was being practiced at the time. So I embarked on the journey and in 1985, founded my practice with a staff of 3 in Mumbai, India. By 1989, we had successfully completed 15 international exhibitions and had done numerous projects across Mumbai. In 1990, we had the opportunity to design a large Police Training Center in Meghalaya, which was a challenging project for my team and gave us immense confidence in our work, when we successfully completed the project.
Thereafter we did work for the Sunny Super Sound office owned by the Deol family and we continue to have a long-standing work relationship with their office, having been involved in various projects with their office. Similarly, wecontinued with our growth by executing projects for renowned names in the Film industry throughout the first half of the 90’s. As a firm,we were slowlygrowing and gaining strength and it was my deliberate decision to enter the corporate sector, as it would give us exposure to a larger scale of projects.
In 1995, we bagged our first Corporate project for HDFC Bank & since then we have been a big part of their Infrastructure Setup and have designed innumerable projects for them across multiple locations all over India. We have also done standardization for Bank IT Center& Training Center Projects. Our teams have worked hand-in-hand, in establishing design standards and branch design details that are currently being followed by all their empanelled designers andtruly it has been a long and fruitful relationship.This relationship alsoculminated in the designing of many private residential projects for HDFC Bank Management and we continue to do such projects.
Aside from HDFC Bank, our team has designed for other banking & financial developments for clients like Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, BhartiAxa, NSE,& DCB Bank. Till date we have been doing work for banking sector from designing ATM setups to large corporate back-offices and no matter the scale of the project we approach every work with the same kind of dedication and honesty.
Besides Banking, we have also done Projects like the prestigious Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Patalgang in Raigad, which was also a very challenging project for our team and was well appreciated by all involved. In 2005, we have designed and standardized the first Over-the-Counter Center for Reliance India Mobile in Mumbai and it was a pilot project which was used as a standard for their other projects. By 2007, our staff had grown to around 15 employees including architects, designers and management and thereafter we moved to our new studio set up which is currently our Mumbai Head-Office. Currently,we have an increased workforce working across multiple offices in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Telangana, Goa and Gujarat.
Q: How do you feel when you look back at your journey and projects?
A: As an Architect, I’ve always been on the look-out for projects that allow for a scope of growth and satisfy my creative aspirations.Since the establishment of ACA, our team has been involved in sectors like Hospitality, Industrial, Banking and Commerce, Mixed-Use, Educational, Institutional Buildings, Residential Developments, Brand Building and Infrastructure Planning. We have also executed several International projects in West and South Asia.Our firm also currently has a well-known presence in Sri Lanka due to the ongoing Hospitality and Private Villa Projects that we are involved in. Overall, my journey has been quite rewarding and I believe that we will keep reaching new milestones due to our creativity, persistence and hard work.
Q: India is a country of variety in culture, tradition and architecture. What are your inspirations that you blend in your creativity?
A: Where India is concerned, it is a huge influence in my sense of design. It is perhaps easy to make trendy designs but very challenging to make timeless designs and for each project. I always let the brief and background of the site – including its location, topography and cultural background -inspire my design decisions. I believe that simplicity is more difficult to achieve than complexity. Designing with restrain and a balanced use ofcolours, textures and forms that fit into the buildings cultural background is very important to me.
Q: What are some of your achievements that make you proud?
A: As such, every well-executed and well-appreciated project is a moment of pride for me. For an Architect, it is immensely satisfying when we are able to bring a client’s vision to reality.
Q: What are some of the recognitions and accolades that have been given to you and how do you feel about that recognition?
A: I’m not a person who is very fazed by awards and accolades, as I feel that every project, which comes to life,is in itself,a reward. But yes, there is a certain sense of honor when your work is appreciated on a larger platform. Recognition gives an artist the confidence to keep working in the same direction. For our work for standardizing Currency Chest designs, we were acknowledged by the Reserve Bank of India. We have been featured in India’s 100 best Architecture by Aztec. And our latest Architectural and Design work has been featured in renowned design magazines like Inside-Out & Design Matrix Magazine. Besides this every client has given us tremendous appreciation and support for which I’m grateful.
Q: What are some of the unique initiatives you have participated in, as an Architect?
A: We had been supportive of Hon’ble PM ShriModiji’sSwachh Bharat Abhiyan and when there was an opportunity to design the prototype toilet to be built for a rural area – by HDFC Bank, we brought our design understanding to this project. Specifically since designing toilets in rural areas brings its own set of challenges. This prototype was approved and has now become a standardized design for rural development projects. In the same vein, we have also designed a water conservation project for the Shiv Sena Office – for another rural area and once again, due to the unique nature of the project, it was a memorable experience. We are, in fact, now working in the direction of taking on infrastructure and development projects across Maharashtra and Goa and are geared to expand in these sectors.
Q: Looking at the world stage, how well does India perform, in terms of Architecture?
A: I believe that, India’s Architectural scene had not been very diverse or experimental in the earlier days, with people having a fixed idea about good architecture.Clientswere not exploring a lot, in terms of creativity, it was very formulaic. But with the exposure of Indian Architects to world architecture and also the lifting of unnecessary red-tapethe Architectural Landscape of India is poised to create its identity on the world stage.
Q: What are the challenges for young Architects in the field?
A: Architecture as a practice suffers a little in India because again, people don’t want to experiment with creative thinking. Young architects, often struggle in practice because clients have a set idea of what good architecture looks like and therefore it can be difficult to get a break in the market. But if a young architect works with conviction and understanding, nothing is achievable.
Q: How satisfied are you about your journey?
A: I always feel – Don’t judge a task by its scale – whatever the work, it requires to be approached with complete integrity and dedication. If you keep this thought in mind, every creative journey becomes rewarding. Regarding my own journey, like I previously said, I’m still continuing on it. And no matter the ups and downs in this journey – when I finally deliver a project that the client is happy with, the amount of joy felt cannot quite be described and put into words.