Sameep Padora is the principal architect and founder of Sameep Padora & Associates (sP+a), a Mumbai based architecture studio. He completed his undergraduate studies in Mumbai in 1996 followed by a Master’s Degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 2005.
“The most interesting thing is that the global and the regional don’t necessarily have to be seen in opposition. Even while working in rural India, one is embedded in networks of urbanisation and has tremendous access to knowledge systems. If we can disconnect from the superficial ‘image’ of tradition and sieve the actual values that comprise the ‘regional’ we can amplify the local and make it richer.”
“Designing and building the Maya Somaiya Library, a small library for children in rural Maharashtra was very interesting. To create an inspiring space to learn, we tried to design a landscape rather than a building, and we did this without any RCC or structural steel. We used principles ranging from the 16th Catalan Tile Vaulting system to the 1960’s engineering detail from the work of Eladio Dieste in Uruguay, to using a cutting edge form finding software plug-in made in Switzerland. This library is a result of lessons learned from time, geographic locations and history.”
“In the initial years we had to be content with largely interior retrofit commissions. Looking at the city as a repository of latent resources we connected to production process and networks that were starting to fade as the city changed from a centre of industrial production to a financial trading outpost. Like in the case of the Carpet Pavilion where carpet workmen who were adept at stitching carpet seams collaborated with us to create modules out of waste carpet, stitched together in a catenary surface expressing the weight of the material. Also we worked with Hunnarshala an organisation working with traditional building technology to evolve a load-bearing wall system of rammed stone dust for a project in rural Maharashtra.”
Advice for young architects
“Be critical and question everything; your own ideas especially. Don’t be naïve, but hold on to your idealism. Everything around you is a resource to learn from but eventually you are your own teacher.”
Reminisce the past
“The only thing I hope to do is to remind people of the values of our city’s forgotten environments which are slowly fading from our collective memories and that these are wonderful opportunities to re-imagine both our city and consequently our everyday lives.”
Founder of sPare in 2016, which is a research arm of his studio, he also organised a travelling international exhibition and wrote a book on the same, titled In the Name of Housing. Co-founder of the not-for-profit, Bandra Collective, an organisation of architects engaging with design of public spaces in the city of Mumbai, he is also a member of the Academic Councils of a number of schools, and a member of the National Technical Committee of Habitat for Humanity, India.
(This 10th edition of the TEDxGateway sees over 20+ speakers from different walks of life sharing unique ideas that make them an inspiration the world over. Over 5500 attendees are slated to attend this feast of ideas and inspiration on December 2 at DOME @ NSCI Mumbai.)