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‘3 tips on how to design & plan the perfect building’

The alumnus of Apeejay Institute of Technology – School of Architecture & Planning, says that he learnt skills from some of the best faculty at this institute



One would expect that a person who has done his Master’s in Planning from IIT-Kharagpur would end up working at a high-profile architecture firm in one of the metro cities. But no, Misbahuddin Ansari, after completing his graduation at Apeejay Institute of Technology – School of Architecture & Planning (AIT-SAP) and master’s, decided to go back to his hometown in Kushinagar and open his firm – Tetrahedron Architects.

“I always wanted to be an architect. Kushinagar is a small town in Uttar Pradesh and till I set up my practice in 2016, it had no architects. All the houses were built without consulting one and those who wanted to hire one would call an architect from outside the town. I was clear in my mind what I wanted to do,” Ansari said, who has a staff of eight and employs freelancers on a project basis today.

In a candid interview, he talks about the challenges he faced in trying to set up his practice and among other things.

How and why did you choose to study at AIT-SAP?

Once I passed class XII, I knew what my goal was – to become an architect. For this, I sat for the Uttar Pradesh Common Entrance Test and had the option of studying at the Government College of Architecture in Lucknow and AIT-SAP. During the counseling session, I chose AIT-SAP. I had heard that the institute had great faculty; I was also told that it was one of the oldest institutes at Knowledge Park I.  Even the visiting faculty was excellent. We were taught by people like Professor Agnihotri, Ashutosh sir, Vijay Garg sir, Hemraj Chahal sir (unfortunately, he is no more), and several other experienced industry people who had well-established practices in Delhi.

How were your college days?

They were fun-filled. When I saw the campus (the old one) I fell in love with it. It is such a beautiful building. The campus was so close to nature and for a person studying architecture, nothing could be more motivating than studying in a beautifully designed building. Even though the building was low-rise, its octagonal and hexagonal courtyards were fascinating. The faculty, peers from different parts of the country and the building drew me here.

What were some of the challenges in setting up your practice?

There was one very big challenge. People in my hometown had never heard of the term ‘architecture’ or what an ‘architect’ was. I would go from door to door explaining what the work entailed. The four years were spent spreading awareness. During this time, I spent money from my pocket – paying salaries to employees. But today, we are on track and getting plenty of work. I am empanelled with Bihar Tourism Department. Recently I was awarded the revitalisation project. There are several other projects that my firm is working on.

 What is more fascinating – the restoration or building something new?

When I started my firm, most of the work that I got at the beginning was that of restoration. Kushinagar has some very old buildings – some date back to the early 1900s. These buildings had several columns as was the norm of the buildings back then. Renovating them was fascinating and challenging. It tested all my knowledge.

People want Vastu homes. Does this clash with the concept of architecture?

Both Vastu and architecture are backed by Science. But architecture also teaches you to let your creativity soar and design with a free mind. You can’t put riders in one’s imagination. Vastu put roadblocks. I am from the Purvanchal area and people here are extremely religious and want everything to be done according to Vastu Shastra. This is a tough ask from an architect since the client has already put a rider. But I managed to follow the principle of Vastu and the design element of architecture.  

What are your favourite buildings?

I love the designs by Sanjay Puri. The design of his buildings is so different and fascinating. He has designed so many buildings and each one is better than the other. Another brilliant building is the Turning Torso by Santiago Calatrava. I love his work because he is an architect and a structural engineer.

Three tips to keep in mind while designing.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to never forget the basics. Use technology but don’t forget about how to draw the design manually. This is because one can always hire a person who is proficient with technology. But an architect must know his design. Second, an architect must know the material to be used in the construction given that there are so many options available today. Third, an architect should know the environment – the elements of nature – where the building has to be made.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to never forget the basics. Use technology but don’t forget about how to draw the design manually

Misbahuddin Ansari, Founder, Tetrahedron Architects in Kushinagar  

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

Poetic गुफ्तगू – With हुमेरा खान @poetsofDelhi