C.E.O, Creative Consortium (Interview PART-1)
Founded in 1990 by Ar. Madhu Garg, C.E.O, Creative Consortium started as a modest two employee firm. Working tirelessly with commitment, dedication and hard work towards delivering functional and aesthetically pleasing design outcomes, for the past 30 years, the firm has grown multiple folds and is recognized for its Pan-India multi-crore projects spanning a vast array of typologies like Residential, Institute campus design, Corporate offices, Hospitals, Commercial, Educational, Retail and Civic designs.
Today, Ar. Madhu Garg heads the integrated team of over 50 plus architects, engineers, consultants and technicians to deliver architectural design products which are innovative, inspiring & timeless with sensitivity to site settings and environmental performance. The core values which she focuses in evolving the designs are Core-functionality, Sustainability, Multi-functionality & Adaptability.
She is more famous for her excellence in designing Affordable Housings for all segments of society with her unique style of simplicity and truthfulness of space and form. She has always aspired to offer a beautiful environment for living that the mass communities of all groups can enjoy and afford. She strongly feels that the architecture (the building) cannot be designed in isolation. It is always in context to sun, space, air, water and verdure. These elements are of utmost importance in shaping the idea into forms besides the genuinity of materials and methods of construction to see it realize on the ground.
Madhu Garg is one of the founders and C.E.O of Creative Consortium. In 1990, she started her own private practice under the name Creative Consortium. Since then, she has never looked back in her journey which began as a modest two employee firm and transformed into one of the leading architectural and engineering firms in India with staff strength of above 50 persons in the past 25 years.
She graduated from Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA), Chandigarh with Honours in 1981. She always had a keen eye for detailing and functionality which as a student too brought her brilliant academic excellence. She is consistent and untiring, always attuned to the changing global design perspectives at National and International level and encourages her staff to stay focused and inspired. Even today, she works tirelessly with her staff design team on each project for its utmost perfection. Her employees often expressed their gratitude for immense learning opportunities under her able guidance.
She believes that creativity and innovations are both art and science. User-centrality, client’s needs and environmental sensitivity defines her approach to design.
Madhu Garg has had an exciting and challenging journey. It was her childhood dream to build her own home one day and her curiosity lead her to chase her dreams with all her efforts. Though she worked on Government based projects and then moved to the teaching field, she always felt the need to grow more and to use her innovative and creative ideas which gave birth to her firm, Creative Consortium. Her personal challenges did not stop her from leading her firm further ahead but made her stronger to face challenges. Her innovative concepts gave her recognition. The firm grew its wings all over India and into residential, commercial, institutional, retail projects etc. Even though her firm grew, her principal in working has always been the same, to be innovative in terms of designs, meet the requirements of the client, flexible designs to suit the future of architecture too, cost sensitive in nature, environment friendly at the same time.
She believes that “Less is more, small is beautiful”, this is the philosophy she has been following, especially during her initial days when she was handling small projects and was able to go into the minute details. Another beautiful philosophy that comes into picture while she was handling her work and home is that Madhu believes that, “Architecture is a living entity and Architects are like mothers, they design a building by putting their heart and soul together to create spaces to put life in them”. Being a mother herself, she feels that, “the process of creativity is similar to the process of motherhood”. In order to encourage and motivate her staff, she believes that we should accept challenging tasks and make all the efforts to succeed in them which is possible only by meticulous planning, designing and by utilising our technical skills. Madhu has done many affordable housing projects where every inch of space needs to be uitilised for the end user, she believed that “the beauty of the design is not in the complexity of the form, but it is in the simplicity and simple lines which will help us in deriving maximum benefits at minimum costs”.
There were times when it was personally very challenging for Madhu, which was when she derived the 4Cs formula which is, “to maintain our Confidence, be Committed, be Consistent and maintain Co-ordination with our team members to make it successful and result oriented”.
Madhu believes in keeping her team always motivated and encourages them through her 4Cs principal which is to maintain their Confidence, be Committed, be Consistent and maintain Co-ordination with other team members which helps them in focussing on their work. She always appreciates their small achievements. She helps her team to go in-depth and maintain focus and then evolve the details so that the outcome is effective.
Meeting client needs has been on priority for their firm, knowing the client needs is important before designing a project. The client looks for maximum functionality, durability, aesthetics, cost-effectiveness and when they work with the developers, the developer looks for maximum saleability of the project so that he can make profits and at the same time give maximum comfort to the end users.
Their firm has projects all over India, which means they have to travel to all the site locations as per their site visits schedule, during the travel she observes the way of living of people of the particular region, their culture, the climatic conditions, materials suitable and adaptable for the particular location, Madhu is very fond of reading, reading books, magazines and newsletters pertaining to architecture keeps her updated with changes in the industry.
Madhu’s work for multi-storied building projects began in 1996, few years after that she became the pioneer architect in terms of acceptance of these projects which made vertical housing projects more popular and got accepted by everyone who were earlier apprehensive of this change and she was rendering such service to all big developers and Government clients too. Being a Lady Architect in the construction industry handling huge projects was not common in those days, which was a big achievement for Madhu to break the glass ceiling.
For a project to complete, there are four stages from designing to completion stage, beginning from concept design development, tendering and documentation stage, construction and execution, the final stage which is completion of the project. Designing is indeed a vast subject and is challenging but the most challenging stage of all stages is the Tendering stage where the final look of the project is predicted by the selection of the kind of material to be used, kind of structure to be focussed on, site surroundings and sensitivity towards the environment is predicted too. The major concern is how the project can be more sustainable and eco-friendly and doesn’t harm Mother Nature. Since the tendering stage is challenging, there should be no mismatch in the design and specifications. Being a lady and a team leader in the construction industry has not been easy for Madhu, it has been very challenging which requires handling many people, visiting sites, handling contractors, but Madhu has been able to do justice to her work without considering her gender as a weakness but her strength.
Architecture and Construction industry is growing very fast, so keeping oneself updated is very important not only in terms of designing but in terms of technology. She believes that softwares available for the industry needs to be popularised and needs to be easily available and accessible. There should be co-ordination between the marketing team and the architects. Detailed description of the materials should be made available to the architects in time with detailed description and application so that the architects can use them easily in their projects.
Vendors put in a lot of efforts in innovation of the materials, they should have well-equipped representatives and equal importance should be given in providing detailed description of the materials and its application to the architects so that the materials are best utilised in the construction industry.
Professional ethics should be maintained by the turn key contractors, they should not lower their specifications, so that inputs of concept design are achieved in totality. No changes should be made during the construction stage.
Madhu believes that the 4C formula has helped her in leading projects. We should stay focused and be Committed to our client to achieve the end result, Confident that we will be able to achieve it, Consistent efforts towards a project, Co-ordination with other teams especially the design team and the team of experts to get best results. When there are many projects in hand, concentration on the stage of the project is important, so that once designing is complete, work can be delegated to other team where effective co-ordination becomes necessary.
Madhu feels that the aspiring architects should be open-minded, keep themselves updated with the changing lifestyles of people and changing technologies. They should also maintain originality in their work using their creativity, copying designs will not work as the site environment differs and the same designs will not suit every environment. She also says that designs should be focussed on the basic elements of the nature – sun, space, air, water and surroundings. These elements are the living elements for human beings and hence are the most important elements in architecture as well.
Sustainability is an important aspect today especially with the amount of consumption of natural resources that are getting consumed at a speed faster than the time they took to grow. Construction industry consumes majority of the natural resources. Madhu suggests evolving the design by following the steps which will help in a sustainable approach, which is to reduce the demand of natural resources, optimise the use of natural resources, regenerate and re-harvest the use of natural resources, see to it that there is no negative impact on our Mother Nature. Madhu feels that maintaining a healthy work life balance is also necessary, to be able to give time to our family and work as well which she has been following ever since the beginning of her career. In today’s fast moving generation, a healthy mind, body and soul are also needed to create better work instead of a busy mind which will only lead to chaos.