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‘From being a mischievous student to receiving the coveted Dr. Stya Paul Award, I owe everything to my faculty at AIT-SAP’ 

Alumnus of AIT-SAP, Aakash Srivastava says Apeejay gave me a lot of opportunities to experiment

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Resident of Noida, Aakash Srivastava’s dream was to become an aeronautical engineer. However, as luck would have it, today the alumnus of Apeejay Institute of Technology – School of Architecture and Planning (AITSAP) is an architectural and design consultant. Akash believes, “Architecture and design shouldn’t be delineated as separate professions. In fact, these need to go hand-in-hand.” With more than 10 years of experience, he has been a visiting professor at School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad and Design Village in Noida and has taught on various subjects including interior design, architectural theory, collaborative design and multi-disciplinary design movement and so on. The 34-year-old architect and designer is also the first Indian to be conferred with the international fellowship by the Domaine De Boisbuchet, an international research center for design and architecture. In a telephonic conversation, Akash talks about his delightful journey he had experienced while he was at Apeejay. Edited excerpts: 

Why did you opt to become an architect? 

It was by chance that while I was filling up the forms for engineering examinations, I unknowingly ended up applying for B Arch instead of B Tech. I gave the exams and scored a good merit rank. And hence, Apeejay happened.  I thought why not give it a shot and experience the field which is so creative and is also driven by a bit of technological aspect. That’s how I landed up becoming an architect and a designer. 

What are your best memories from AITSAP?

Apeejay has been the most important step towards the journey of my professional life.  The faculty at AIT-SAP played a huge role in my overall growth as a student – as a human being. They were very supportive right from day one. I was the class representative and hence, I was expected to be more sincere and obedient as a student. But I was one of the most mischievous of the lot. Certainly not an ideal student for any faculty member. (Laughs). However, I appreciate the way my faculty at Apeejay nurtured me to become what I am today. Besides, my seniors also played a significant role in my career growth.  

Another best memory from the college days was that I used to take up a lot of activities for National Architecture Students Association. I spent a big chunk of my time in designing activities. The shift in my career happened right after the third year when I went for my internship programme. I happened to go to Pune and work with one of India’s highly decorated architects, Christopher Charles Benninger. He is the Great Master Architect of India. After coming back, in my portfolio submission, I scored the highest marks. Subsequently, in the fourth year, I received the Dr. Stya Paul award. This was only because of my teachers who had that trust in me and imbibed such kind of values. So from being a mischievous student to receiving the coveted Dr. Stya Paul Award, I owe everything to my faculty at Apeejay.  

Apeejay also gave me a lot of opportunities to experiment. I made life-long friends and got my gurus and mentors who stood beside me at every step that I took. 

Two key learnings from AIT-SAP?

  • A collaborative approach towards work or a problem
  • The importance of humility and how being humble is critical for professional and personal growth 

How do you think the pandemic impacted the architecture and design field?

In all positivity, I haven’t taken the pandemic as a problematic situation – it  rather has been more like an awakening phase for me. Being in the architecture and design field, it gave us a lot of opportunities to chip in new ideas. I think we started paying more attention to existing spaces, things around us – our environment. Well, we started thinking beyond our four walls. So, I would say the whole architecture and design community catalysed in a way  to improve the quality of life.  For example, the pandemic has changed perceptions – our  clients have started demanding spaces which are more airy, have more plants and natural light. Today, people are preferring minimalist interiors. Social distancing is leading to designing spaces that are open. So, the pandemic has induced several changes. It has made the architecture and design community think about how public spaces can be redesigned or reinvented. I would say pandemic or epidemic have always played a pivotal role in architecture.

Do you see automation playing a role in architecture and design? 

Of course ! Technology has been accepted as an inseparable part of our lives and automation of things is bound to happen. Right from automated doors at the airport, check-in systems in the metro stations to automated kiosks and now sensorial or face recognition systems in offices – these are automated systems installed in an infrastructure. In fact,  we are headed towards a future where everything can be controlled via a mobile app using your fingertips. 

Your word of advice for Apeejay students

  • One should not stop experimenting
  • Step out of your comfort zone and take chances 

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.

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