Chaitra Shivaswamy

Principal Architect, Studio Bhoomi,Bangalore.(Interview PART-1)

Career Journey: A Brief (Interview Part -1)

Chaitra Shivaswamy, a Principal Architect at Studio Bhoomi, graduated from Dayananda Sagar College of Architecture, Bangalore in 2002. She joined Jaisim Fountainhead for her Internship. After completing the internship, Chaitra continued at the same firm as a junior architect. Eventually, she moved up to being a senior architect and later on became an associate with Prof.Ar.Jaisim.
She runs her small practice under the firm name, Studio Bhoomi, where she works on residential and interior projects. Apart from this, she works on hospitality and institutional projects. They have an environmentally friendly and eco-sensitive approach towards their projects.
The Best Creators approached Ar. Chaitra for interviewing her, so, newcomer architects and designers can learn from her years of experience in the industry as she pushes her boundaries and redefines architectural excellence.

Joining Jaisim Fountainhead for my Internship was the Defining Moment of my Career: Ar. Chaitra

Chaitra stated that joining Jaisim Fountainhead for her Internship was the defining moment of her career as it began with unlearning what was learnt in four and a half years of Architecture College. Everything began with a shift in perspective, the way drawings are made or materials are studied is different. In college, students can go as wild as possible on the design but on actual projects, one has to learn to work with site constraints, client requirements, boundaries and guidelines.

We have to create a Nature centric Space as an Architect: Chaitra

On asking about the initiative, she took during her professional journey; Chaitra emphasized the importance of using materials thoughtfully in creating a design-centric space since the initial stages. With this, clients would also enjoy the journey and the contractors become innovative as they start looking for newer materials to experiment with in their projects, improving the design in many other spaces

Continuing, she says it is important to instill a sense of observation or lookout for newer materials and newer trends and what can be adopted for design. There is a strong emphasis on keeping up with the latest developments in building materials and design trends.

She explained that by staying attentive to these developments, one can identify new opportunities and ideas that can be adopted or adapted for upcoming projects. This proactive approach to observation and learning helps to ensure that one remains competitive and innovative in the work, incorporating the best practices and latest advancements into designs and projects.

Chaitra’s Principles of Design

Chaitra elaborated on principles of design that she works in context with the site and the surroundings. Second, always try to get into more explosions of natural light into spaces. The foyer the porch, are small spaces but the moment one walks inside that space, it should give an expanse of space, the wow feeling, in terms of width, depth and height of it.

They try to create spacious and well-ventilated areas by using techniques like double-height spaces, fewer walls, and ample access to natural light. They focus on incorporating features that allow for cross-ventilation and fresh air flow, such as slits or openings in the design. The goal is to create spaces that are bright, airy and inspiring.

Clients always want Uniqueness in their Spaces

When TBC asked about client expectations, Chaitra mentioned that clients usually expect a unique space since the clients would have researched on designs before approaching Architects. Clients aim to create spaces that offer memorable experiences for them and their visitors and they may seek designs that stand out and are different from what is commonly seen. So Chaitra involves the clients from decision making to material selection. Their clients also become eco-sensitive by the time the project is completed.

Exhibitions and Workshops help a lot to be updated with New Designs and Trends

Chaitra said, that as a firm she and her employees attend a lot of exhibitions, workshops, seminars, talks and meetings along with social media to be updated with new trends. Many times the new material is incorporated in some of the projects. The team gets in touch with the manufacturer or the vendor and tries to get more information about it which helps them to study the material in detail. Social media is a good source but will have limited information. Attending exhibitions, workshops, and seminars, gives them the exposure with information and a chance to meet many like-minded architects and designers.

Building Material Vendors should have Product Varieties: Chaitra

Chaitra suggested that building material vendors should have product varieties in terms of dimensions, sizes, colours, and patterns. She explained with an example that if they consider a concrete block, (because that’s widely used), then vendors should manufacture those blocks either in different dimensions or some different colour because all these blocks are manufactured with the thought that it would be plastered. But as Architects, if they prefer to keep it exposed, they can finish the wall with a coat of paint but if a coloured block is available, then it does not even need that paint colour, and can be finished with a water repellant coat. Also, the builders at present prefer to build with shear walls or RCC columns because they want fast construction and is also load bearing at the same time, but if there is an alternative to change the same then it would be welcome move. That is why variety in building materials and innovation becomes important.

Newcomer Architects Should be daring (Interview Part-2)

Chaitra wants newcomer architects to be daring. Fresher Architects have to be daring. They should not shy away from learning from seniors in the office. A lot can be learnt through the study of materials. They should be willing to take on challenges. Newcomers must visit the site as often as possible because being on-site; you not only gain the confidence but also you tend to learn from the contractors, site engineers or supervisors. Because they will teach you how to start with laying the brick on the block or tying the reinforcement, etc. Every day is a learning experience. It will help newcomers to learn every aspect of architecture including drawing and on-site work. Next time the same young architects make a drawing, they will be more confident about the details.

Chaitra emphasizes that newcomers have to be more connected to the site and learn on-site work. It would be good if they could do some amount of work at the site as well to understand the approach practically.

The Cost is one of the important things that has to Change in the Architectural Industry

On asking about changes to make in the industry she stated that the ‘Cost’ is an integral part of construction and a deciding factor in the industry due to fluctuation in the material rates and in turn reflects on the estimate or the quotation that is given by the contractor at the beginning of the project. When the project gets finished about one and a half years later then the contractor would not be making as much profit.

Chaitra continued that there has to be a balance so that project budget is under check. Fluctuating costs tend to put pressure on the all the parties involved. There is a balance everybody is trying to achieve to complete the projects within budget.

Chaitra’s Thoughts on Leadership

According to Chaitra Shivaswamy, it’s difficult to lead from the front unless you are working with the team, know each one of your team members, and inspire them enough to take them along with you. If you want to be an effective leader, it’s important to work alongside your team and not just lead from the front. By doing so, you can understand their perspectives and get them motivated and excited about the work that’s being done. This way, one can ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal. Chaitra stated that true leadership involves being part of the team. This approach can lead to better collaboration, understanding, and shared commitment to the office’s visions and objectives.

Digital Platforms Should Take Initiative for Material Research

Chaitra expressed her opinion that while there are many platforms for architects to share their work and experiences through seminars and webinars, there are limited opportunities to share information about new materials and research. Such information is often only shared through exhibitions or advertisements. So, whenever a company comes with an innovation or new-gen products, it would be beneficial if the resources were shared through webinars and circulated widely to ensure everyone can make the most of them.

For example, for a printed panel recently launched, some people might see it as a shear wall, somebody might want to use it for a floor, and few might want to use it for a bench. So, the material is probably a prototype or a single entity as such but how each architect, builder, or contractor perceives is entirely up to their imagination.

So, there is a need for a common platform for newly launched products with full details of dimensions, sizes, colours, usage, and application, through which the architects, designers, contractors and the person who’s innovated the product get a platform to discuss its design, innovation and application of the product. The sales and marketing team are the ones who work for sales of the product. It’s always a person at the back end who does all the innovation, who sources the material, and does the material tests. So it is ideal to interact with the innovator. The marketing team only talks about numbers or in terms of scale while talking to an architect or a contractor, But if the thought behind the research and use of the product, the innovation is to be understood, there these platforms are a must.