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Wienerberger Building Material Solutions

“Sustainable Architecture is Nothing But Sensible Architecture”

By: Piyusha Bokil

Tell us about your practice and design approach?

At EXS, our design solutions are well-formed after churning of ideas which target positive outcome for everyone involved. Our concepts are firmly rooted in principles of Context, Clarity & Creativity. We do not believe in following trends, instead, we first focus on expectations & then deliver above and beyond the same with timeless creativity. Out of the box solutions are then just a byproduct of our thought & work process.

We have a track record of nil to single revision on the design as we understand our client requirements very well & then deliver solutions. Explaining our design principles further:

Context: The site, client aspirations, financial viability all form an integrated context of a project. We strive to get a clear context at the initial stage. Steps involve study of: site opportunities, zoning, financial requirements, functional requirements, expected project outcome, and geography analysis. The summary of these forms a strong foundation on which the project can be further designed, thus, maximising the benefits for our clients.

Clarity: This signifies our way of thinking and planning. It is this quality which makes our projects stand out in the competitive field of design. The stage involves clear space planning with which we drive projects irrespective of their size. We achieve this clarity through numerous iterations, possibilities & contextual requirements. The outcome is a well laid out plan optimising space to the maximum. Our projects are known to give excellent returns on space because of this sieving process to attain clarity.

Architectural Design

Creativity: Lastly, the associated imagery is created with great care & fluent design language. The outcome of first two aspects are extruded in thinking & formation to attain designed spaces which are unique to each project, but with a global appeal. We do not believe in following trends, instead, we first focus on expectations & then deliver above & beyond the same with timeless creativity. Out of the box solutions are then just a byproduct of these processes which gradually culminate together.

What are the milestones you have achieved to date?

Sustainable Architectural DesignOver more than a decade, I have collected varied design stories to share and achievements to cherish & build on. I have been a point person on many successful built forms defining a city. Small apartments to multi use towers, villas to masterplans, clinics to large hospitals, cafes to resorts, saloons to wellness centers, offices to commercial towers.

I believe every project is a story waiting to be told and our life stories become intertwined with it. We grow with the initiatives we take, inspire others through our failures & successes, and learn by demonstrating something to others. The size and shape of the design does not matter, the journey is always enjoyable. I would say my early milestone was the gold medal from Pune University in architecture. It is always encouraging to prove meritorious in a field you are passionate about. The very next year I received the NDTV national level award for exploratory project focusing on self learning spaces with a design inspired by fractal geometry.

As I started working with Plural, our designed projects were shortlisted at the MENA region healthcare awards and I received much appreciation from the management for my design sensibilities. Four years later, I got an offer to work with one of the most renowned architecture and design firms in Dubai and head their masterplan & residential projects as project lead with well-known developers. One of my initial projects-Wellness center in Al Ain was nominated for the next landmark competition in Italy. It was just a month before pandemic hit UAE, I decided to take the plunge as Design partner with EXS Design. Being passionate about design education, I founded EXS Coach me to ensure foundational design knowledge for all.

Interior Design

I can proudly say, since the past year, EXS has seen rapid growth in their portfolio across various all design verticals-residential, Commercial, F&B, Healthcare, Wellness with excellent client portfolio & testimonials.

In short, my achievements can be summarized:

  • National level NDTV award in for exploratory science center design
  • University gold medalist in architecture
  • Track record to nil revision on the design since we analyse & understand client requirements very well.
  • Excellent client testimonials & word of mouth as both-design coaching & design service
  • Design coaching testimonial video: https:// youtu.be/rK06pJN_NFs

What inspired you to become an architect?

Sensible Architecture

My love for the built form sparked during visits to design studios back home, in India. My grandparents stayed in Solapur and there was a small architect’s studio opposite to their place. During school holidays, I used to spend time there and see various structures being built from paper to site. It was a very immersive and exciting experience as a child. I knew then that I wanted to be an architect and contribute with my knowledge in creating better spaces for all.

Could you please talk about your projects featuring very innovative and different kinds of façade and fenestration designs (in the Middle East)?

Architectural Design by EXS DesignArchitecture being the collaborative profession it is, façade and design are not removed from each other. Careful façade design is integral to careful design. Every project we design, we strive to make it relevant to its site. One of the recent ones which I can share is House of shade and shadow in Abu Dhabi. This client approached us with a request – “we want a house which holds our traditional grounds but is modern at the same time. A home many generations can use!

At the same time, we want our children to be able to enjoy it but would like to keep an eye on them.” The site based in Abu Dhabi was a corner one. We decided to plan the access away from the hustle bustle of the main road. We were mindful of the challenges a future expansion project involves-mainly the lack of co-relation between the old and new. To solve this, we came up with a grid and rotated it diagonal to maximize the plot utility. As simple as it may sound, the grid started becoming too restrictive and we over layed another one. And voila! We were now close to the perfect outdoor open space proportion!

Sustainable Architecture

All throughout, we kept in mind the key visual connectivity with kids the parents required. An overlooking balcony from master bedroom kept an eye on the kids’ room balcony below, while, another balcony from the master suite overlooked the shaded C-shaped courtyard. Sustainable design is ingrained in our philosophy and we planned the pool & entrance feature strategically to have light, cooling breeze throughout the house with a large ‘jaali’ element. This house was, thus, envisioned as ‘a canvas for living’. With settings aiding in highlighting large identity elements and avoiding visual clutter, this home was designed to ‘grow’ along with the people living in it.

As an architect what sustainability means to you?

For me, sustainable architecture is nothing but sensible architecture. Nothing less, nothing more than that.

How do you go about choosing the material of the façade and cladding?

Architecture

Our design process is very intuitive. It is not a straight line but a circle process where we imagine complete life cycle of a building or design. Selection of façade materials is an important milestone which can make or break the design. We look at aesthetics, of course, but also focus on technical aspects like the weather resistance, maintenance feasibility, installation process and availability. Ultimately, we generally assemble all the façade materials together to freeze the material selections.

According to you, where is the architectural segment is heading in the Middle East?

ArchitectureWith the residential sector gaining traction due to the pandemic, varied personal choices have resulted in a healthy competition of ideas in the Middle East. Sustainability had always been a buzz word, but I can see that more number of people are now trying to understand the real value of design along with it. Older materials are now being explored with modern ways. This will result in newer possibilities for our design sector. The Expo happening in October will increase trade and associated industries like hospitality, transport, residential and even offices will see a major demand for design.

What are the major challenges in the architectural segment in the Middle East?

Meeting financial and aesthetic expectations while keeping in-line with the rapid growth timeline are one of the major challenges for architects. Designing a structure and building a structure are becoming two different activities and they shouldn’t be seen that way. Educating the client of good practices is of paramount importance to safeguard quality in the region.

What opportunities do you see for the architects in the region?

ArchitectureArchitecture is an all-encompassing field. Requiring talent & skill of many aspects like interior design, landscaping, décor, building services, MEP, structure, way finding, waste management, lighting design, project management, history, geography, urban design and even psychology to name a few. Thus, qualified architects have a lot of room to explore & specialize in their area of interest.

What are your views on the future façade and fenestration technologies as well as materials?

Being sensitive to the geography and addressing world issues would be a logical criteria for a successful fenestration technology. I would say achieving a good aesthetics is lesser of our troubles here. More R&D should be done on non-invasive, productive technologies while drawing inspirations from vernacular materials.

What is your advice for young and upcoming architects?

There is an imbalance in current ratio of newcomers to jobs in our field. This is resulting in lesser to nil paying employment opportunities. However, I would advise new comers to train themselves well before entering into practice. This will safeguard their skills as well as prospective projects. Understand how you can help and what your strengths are before pursuing design career in a certain direction.

Piyusha Bokil

Design Partner

Piyusha Bokil is the design partner at EXS Design, founder of EXS coach me. Small apartments to multi-use towers, villas to masterplans, clinics to large hospitals, cafes to resorts, saloons to wellness centers, offices to commercial towers - she has more than a decade of experience as project lead across all scales. Her project stories generally start with a strong concept & multi-level thought process involving solutions that create something meaningful-functionally & aesthetically. Each detail is then a contribution to making the final product a manifestation of the enhanced original idea. Educating people about what architects, designers do has also always been a part of her passion & she pursues it through design coaching alongside leading creative projects in Middle East & India.

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