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‘My family has always inspired me to soar high’

Architect Anchal Srivastava, Alumna of AIT-SAP, says her husband and mother-in-law are her pillars of strength



Architect Anchal Srivastava boasts multiple talents. She is a researcher, urban planner, educator, designer as well as a writer. Having completed her Bachelor of Architecture from the Apeejay Institute of Technology – School of Architecture and Planning (AIT-SAP) and Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, Anchal has more than seven years of professional experience.

She has worked at Shantiniketan Build-Tech Pvt. Ltd. and its sister company SSAP as the Head Architect. Her professional journey includes working with Jabalpur Smart City Limited, Town and Country Planning Organisation, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure as well as Zeyka. At present, the Noida-based architect is  working as the Assistant Professor with Uttar Pradesh Institute of Design and Research. In a telephonic interview, she talks about her work and her family. Edited excerpts:

How did you develop interest in architecture?

I have had an interest in architecture since I was young. It’s because of my grandfather –  he used to take me to different sites and that used to be a motivation for me to become an architect. In fact, I was just seven years old when I decided that I wanted to be an architect. I had scored very good marks in my 12th boards. Initially, I was enrolled in St. Stephen’s College to pursue Chemistry Honours. But I knew that wasn’t my cup of tea. I took out my name and finally joined Apeejay. There were two major reasons to select Apeejay: First, I wanted to stay in Noida and secondly, Apeejay was among the top 20 best architecture institutes in India. 

Tell us about your fond memories from Apeejay

Throughout the five years I topped the college exam. I also received the Dr Stya Paul Award. Besides these, I used to love participating in all the HUDCO (Housing & Urban Development Corporation) and NASA (National Association of Students of Architecture) competitions. We used to go to different places for these design events and competitions from Apeejay.

Moreover, all the courses used to have hands-on workshops and I liked participating in them. One of my favourite assignments was the one we did with a canister. We had to brainstorm and design different models using canisters. It was so much fun. In fact, our classes were conducted in the courtyard (which was right in front of the main entrance). Let me tell you my faculty and seniors were very strict. But honestly I feel that’s what made us learn so much. I am still in touch with many Apeejay seniors. I remember one of our faculty members used to say this to us ‘until and unless you get your hands dirty, you cannot expect the tree to grow and give you fruit’. And it’s true!

Moreover, internships played a very  important role while I was walking my professional path. While I was in Apeejay I used to work with different firms and this is how I developed interest in sustainable designs, housing and planning, etc.    

Talk about some of the interesting projects that you have worked on while you were in Apeejay.

My thesis was selected as the best and was presented in National Institute of Advanced Studies in Architecture (NIASA). I got an opportunity to work with Laurie Baker, a renowned British-Indian architect and attend a workshop on how to use low-cost material to build spaces. AIT-SAP encourages students to go for different workshops. I remember I attended a workshop in which we learnt so much about UI (User Interface)  and UX (User Experience) designing. In fact, because of my thesis I got my first job. I have also worked as an architect-planner with Suresh Goel & Associates and APS Green Architects & Associates. 

So, how did you develop interest in working on projects related to sustainability?

I always had an interest in sustainability. My architectural thesis was on “Green and Sustainable Housing”. When I joined the Shantiniketan Buildtech Pvt. the Head Architect, I worked on an important project when they were designing the first platinum rated green buildings in Noida. That was a big achievement. After that, they made me the Chief Architect of  Shantiniketan’s sister company SAP Interiors and after one year I became the Director of the company. While I was there, I had successfully completed 127 interior projects.   

Moreover, I was living in Noida for a very long time and the air quality that I used to breathe and now  the air that my daughter is breathing – there is a massive vast; it has degraded over the years. So, my daughter became my motivation to work towards sustainability and I am looking forward to bringing a change. In addition, my job allows me to meet so many new people – understand their viewpoint, I keep reading and researching. Also, I have got over 50 articles published on different topics on various platforms.  And all of these make me fall in love with the idea of sustainability. 

How important is research when you are conceptualising a design?

AIT-SAP helped me develop excellent research skills. For instance, sustainability has three things – economic feasibility, social inclusion and environmental sensitivity. Now unless we research about the site we are working on, the geomorphology, the climatology, the wind direction, and so on, we won’t be able to design and build something that is relevant for the future and the generations ahead. Similarly, while planning a city, we need to know the trend, research about the history to perceive and forecast the future. Even in the case of a product design, the designer has to be aware of the users, the geographic where the product will be used, the age-group of the users, etc.  Hence, the habit of researching, reading and knowing about what is happening around the world are very important. Well, to be able to design for the future, in-depth research is imperative.

You live in a joint family and also have a young child. How do you strike a balance between your personal and professional life?

I am very grateful for having an amazing family. I got married when I was just 23 years old. It was in 2016. My daughter was born in the same year. But it’s all because of my mother-in-law that I have reached so far. She is a very big support in my life. There was a time I was paralysed and I had lost all hopes. But my husband and my mother-in-law never lost hope. They are like strong pillars in my life. My family has always inspired me to soar high. My mother-in-law left her career to support me; she gave me the wings to pursue different opportunities in my career.  In addition, I try to maintain a routine every day and that helps me to give my 100 per cent to my family as well as my work.  

Tips for young aspirants

  • For creative visualisation one needs to think out of the box
  • To become a good designer, one has to have a both theoretical and practical knowledge
  • It’s also important to strike a balance between personal and professional lives

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.