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Passionate about drawing as a child, this Apeejay Kharghar alumnus is now an established architect who builds data centres

Chris Thomas Charles, Apeejay Kharghar alumnus and a project architect, thanks his teachers for playing a critical role in developing and nurturing his creativity ·

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Chris Thomas Charles, an Apeejay Kharghar alumnus (batch of 2006), is a project architect at AEKOM Engineering Company. In an interview, Chris describes the steps he took to become an architect, what his work entails and some life lessons for students. Edited Excerpts:

Please tell us a bit about your work profile.
Currently, I am designing multiple types of buildings including data centers which is a new form of building that is gaining popularity in India. I am also designing a few commercial buildings in Mumbai and Pune. In the field of data centres, I am working across the nation. I lead a team of around three-four people. We deal in the tasks of delivering and designing the concept, managing clients and finances, and making sure that the project is executed smoothly, right from its conception to the final stage.

What was the inspiration behind choosing to become an architect? Did you decide on it during your school years?
Yes. I was well known for my drawing and sketching skills in school. I was always motivated by my teachers to sketch more, develop the art and pursue a field that is artistic and creative. I had also won the second position in the Best Child Artist award given by the state of Maharashtra when I was in class 8. That was the moment when the inspiration to be an architect touched me. Also, my father is a civil engineer, and he encouraged me to be an architect.

Could you mention the steps you took to become an architect?
In class 9, I appeared for the intermediate drawing exam at school. This is a certification exam where one qualifies on the basis of one’s drawing and creative skills. The student then gets a certain grade based on their creative abilities. This exam adds to one’s professional and creative approach and prepares him for the next set of steps to become an architect.

After the class 10 exams, I opted for the Non-Medical stream, for science and math are crucial for becoming an architect. Architecture involves physics and a lot of physics-related calculations. After my class 12 exams, I wrote multiple entrance exams including the National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA). I applied to IIT for architecture courses and to other prestigious institutions as well. Eventually, I gave the MH-CET Maharashtra Common entrance test and chose Sir JJ College of Architecture in Mumbai. After this, I got an internship and worked with some private architects. I worked with them for a year and a half, designing hotels, luxury villas and resorts in Mumbai. Then I applied for a one-year architecture course in Cardiff, Wales, where I pursued a master’s degree in Urban Design there. After this, I worked for six months with many British architects in the UK and then I came back to India and joined an architecture firm.

What are some of your best memories from your school days?
The best memories are mainly of sneaking out of the classes sometimes to play sports. We would not even observe the lunch break but use it to play table tennis, carrom and badminton. I participated in numerous inter-school badminton competitions. That was the most fun part of my school life. I remember how my friends and I often played mischief. It feels great to recollect these memories today. We were always looking forward to a teacher being absent so that we could devote the time to sports.

I was also the prefect of the Topaz house for some four-five years. I won a few awards in sports and the sketch artist award which I mentioned above.

What life lessons would you like to share with the students of Apeejay Kharghar?
I would say have fun and respect the teachers because they impart education and put social sense into you. I believe that having respect for the teachers is a prime thing to inculcate as students. Also, I would say, take things a little lightly at times. Do not take undue pressure and make sure that you have a good balance between education and sports. Enjoy!

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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