Ar. Sunil Patil’s design journey spanning two decades is replete with examples of sustainable design and living. As an eco-conscious architect, he voices his concerns over undermining the importance of climate-responsive architecture in India, in a conversation with ANUJA ABRAHAM
Ar. Sunil Patil draws influence from contemporary designs, traditional crafts and sustainable building techniques to design his projects. Having founded his design studio Sunil Patil & Associates in 1994, he is renowned for premium commercial and residential projects in Pune and various other cities. SPA has completed more than 275 projects ranging from individual houses to large townships, from small shops to huge commercial complex and corporate offices. The firm is known for its innovative use of materials as well as the use of new materials and has been a pioneer in introducing new materials. Patil’s beliefs and philosophy stems from his respect for Mother Earth; he strongly propagates frugal use of resources and building as per in-situ climatic and geographical contexts.
Tell us something about yourself and your journey into design world?
My family has always been in the construction industry, so I was always interested and involved towards the process of building since childhood. I had a natural flair towards arts. Architecture being a creative part of construction, it was only natural that I opted for architecture as my profession. Having graduated from Kolhapur, I started my practice in 1994 as Sunil Patil and Associates and since then have designed many versatile projects across the country.
Who have been your mentors?
I don’t follow anybody as a mentor, but I do follow good architecture.
Describe your style of designing.
I believe that the architecture belongs to the geographical location, culture, climate and the era in which it was built. For my projects, I mostly prefer using vernacular material and ethos in a contemporary style, which is better known as The Contemporary-Vernacular Architecture
What inspires you on daily basis?
The urge for innovation inspires me to do better
Any piece of architecture or design that has left a lasting impression on your mind
The ‘Kanchanjunga Apartment’ in Mumbai designed by Charles Correa continues to be my favourite design.
How has your design philosophy evolved over time?
By instinct, man likes to be with the nature. His body, his mind responds better to the nature than manmade spaces. There is nothing better than nature that relaxes the man and keeps him healthier. Thus, I believe in creating spaces which is in ‘Harmony with the Nature.’ The architecture that we create is just as sensitive to nature as our skin is. We create spaces that have minimum intervention with nature. I have been practicing this philosophy for the last 25 years of my practice.
What is the influence of international architecture and design on the Indian scene?
I strongly believe in climate responsive architecture. Hence, I am really disappointed with the international influence of glass buildings in India which is not relevant to our climate.
Describe a project that closely follows your principles of climate-responsive architecture.
One of our projects VVIP Circuit House at Pune is a good example of climate responsive architecture. We have employed passive strategies for thermal and visual comfort along with innovative active strategies to achieve energy-efficient green building. The planning is derived from vernacular architecture – the shaded courtyard, transition spaces like passages and terraces, jaalis in form of louvre carry vernacular ethos in highly contemporary architectural style in this building. Hence, the climate, the site and time are basic parameters of design for this project leading to the contemporary vernacular architectural style
You have a bouquet of projects to your credit – public buildings, townships, apartments etc. What type of projects do you particularly enjoy the most?
I enjoy doing any project that allows me to innovate, irrespective of its scale.
How do you strike work-life balance?
I am passionate about architecture as it is an inseparable aspect of my life. But if required, I create space for both.
Share one piece of advice to the upcoming architect or designer.
Architecture is a great responsibility and one should effectively know how to strike the right balance between human aspirations and eco-system, between technology and environment. Foreseeing the current scenario, we should lay more emphasis on sustainable architecture and developing energy-efficient buildings. Climate responsive architecture should be the first parameter of design.