Founders of emerging multi-disciplinary practice Studio Symbiosis Amit and Britta Gupta talk about cross-culture practice and the importance of practising at different scales.
30 April, 2018
Founded in 2010, Studio Symbiosis is an emerging multi-disciplinary practice based in three cities internationally that seamlessly entwines the fields of architecture, landscape and geology through often fluid, dynamic forms. Felicia Toh caught up with studio founders Amit and Britta Gupta at the recent Young Designer Award (AYDA) in Kuala Lumpur and asked them to share more about their studio.
What was the inspiration behind your practice’s name?
Symbiosis in nature refers to a mutually beneficial relationship between organisms. This symbiosis is reflected in our architecture within the building, where various elements of form, function, structure and services are integrated into one balanced state, creating a symbiosis.
We believe that our architecture and design should not only be sustainable but also benefit the surroundings and integrate in the urban fabric, thereby creating a symbiosis. Our studio was founded in 2010 and was started in Germany and then we opened our branch offices in UK and India.
Having been educated in the AA London, practised internationally at Zaha Hadid architects and now being based in India, Germany and the UK, how are the practice contexts different and do you find that it influences your view of architecture?
We have three offices located in London, Stuttgart and New Delhi. The choice of these three locations was due to where we are from and where the practice started. This diversity gives us opportunities to work in different parts of the world.
The Indian office gave us access to the booming economy of Southeast Asia and larger scale projects in this region. The context of the practice is not affected by where it is located, though the design parameters change based on where the project is located and so does the design.
The more we look at different cultures, the more we realize the similarities in these cultures. The needs and requirements of people are quite similar. It’s very important for us to understand the individual – who they are and what their specific requirements are- and then reflect it within the context.
What do you aspire to do differently at Studio Symbiosis?
Our design philosophy is to create integrated design solutions imbibing amalgamated, efﬁcient, robust and sustainable designs leading to performative architecture. We seek to create environmentally sensitive buildings that respond to the global context as well as the local context. We are always looking to create performance-based architecture that has an inherent meaning. The formal expression is secondary for us, though we believe that form is a reflection of the personality of the designer and it echoes in the design.
Congratulations on being named the WAF 2017 finalist for Punjab Kesari HQ. What inspired your design and served as a starting point for your exploration?
The design exploration for Punjab Kesari HQ started with a very simple design idea: there is no artificial light within the office, reducing heat gain and thereby creating a sustainable building that truly reflects what a contemporary office should be, located within the harsh climatic conditions of New Delhi.
What are some key design features of the Punjab Kesari headquarters?
Punjab Kesari Headquarters is designed as a fusion of traditional Indian architecture and contemporary office space. The main objective is to reduce heat gain and optimize façade opening ratio, ensuring no artificial lighting is required on a typical day. An animated façade is designed as an outcome of different façade openness ratios, depending on its orientation.
Our inspiration was to translate a traditional Indian façade pattern by using digital simulations through iterative processes, resulting in a responsive built form. This traditional “Jali” screen creates a sense of belonging culturally. We were able to achieve a lux level of 500 within the building, ensuring that artificial lighting is not required within the building on most days.
A hexagonal pattern was developed into varying façade porosity patterns, generating different light conditions within the building. This resulting pattern morphs from 81 per cent opacity on the North facade to 27% opacity on the South facade, with an intermediate opacity of 54 per cent on East and 62 per cent on West facade respectively.
In your recent AYDA keynote presentation, you mentioned the importance of practising at different scales, from the Smart Lounger furniture piece to large buildings. Why is practising at a range of scales pertinent?
It’s very important for us that we don’t limit ourselves to one scale or building type. Working on different scales generates a creative energy within the studio that allows us to constantly evolve as a design practice. One day we are designing a 100 sqm pavilion, and the next, a 1200 acre masterplan. It gives us a sense of freedom. Also, working on different scales helps us to test and explore design ideas quickly. A product may be finished within a couple of months, as compared to a building or a master plan that might take four years to complete.
The design ideology of creating sustainable and performance-based designs can be explored in smaller scale products or projects at a faster pace, and as an office, we can access and apply the learning to the bigger scale projects as well.
Seeing as both of you are architects and partners in and out of office, what is the process of your collaboration like?
Not to jinx it, but from the first day we started the office, both of us have been working seamlessly. At times we exchange drawings or 3D models halfway and work on what the other person was working on. It is something that either works or does not work. In our case, we were really fortunate as it’s been really fun to work together on each design. We try to keep the personal and professional spheres compartmentalized, as it is important that we also have a personal life and it’s not about the office all the time. However, it is easier said than done.
What are some of the upcoming or recently completed projects by your office we can look forward to?
We have just signed on some very interesting projects. We are working on a villa in Arizona, two train stations in India, the biggest Eco Park in India, to name a few. Also, the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Ahmedabad is slated to open in a couple of months.
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