People | Deblina Chatterjee

Godrej Interio Talk the Walk with Architect Dean D’Cruz

Updated On : 13 Jun 2021
Architect Dean D’Cruz talked about sustainable architecture, product design, and market economy in Godrej Interio’s Talk the Walk.
Godrej Interio Talk the Walk with Architect Dean D’Cruz

On this episode of Godrej Interio’s Talk the Walk featured Dean D’Cruz, architect and founder of Mozaic. Dean believed in thinking out of the box for his work that will be sustainable and, of course, eco-friendly. He thought that you don’t always need to build something huge to bring a change in society or to make a point. Here’s what the architect and environmental activist had to say.

Dean thought that it’s important for the architects that their plans work very well for each project. Then he spoke about sustainability - if you make something low-cost, then it automatically becomes sustainable for you. The actual cost was of the materials that were being used for the construction, and if we used low-cost products which were eco-friendly, then it would automatically become sustainable.

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On this point, he was asked how is this possible to not build something big at all. So, he shared a story about a church which didn’t have much space. He gave the idea of dividing the time for the village people to attend church prayers - one part would come at 9’o clock and the other at 10’o clock. So, instead of doubling the size, they should divide the time. Hence, according to Dean, you had to think out of the box.

But we still need to construct buildings to address certain issues?

On being asked this, he answered, “It’s not about building houses. It’s about reducing, minimizing and recycling carbon footprints to bring communities close to each other. Just like we are making nuclear families nowadays, which are demolishing the concept of joint families. This is actually taking us away from each other. So, we should restore it by having them close to each other rather than taking them distant by building something.”

But how is it possible in our urban lives?

There are so many rich communities in different parts of the country with diversified and rich culture. So, we have to bring them together with, of course, an interactive space so that they can communicate with each other.

What kinds of interactive spaces?

These are places where people can interact with each other in an informal manner. For example, a bus stop should not be designed in a straight line, rather it should be curvilinear so that people can have eye-contact and greet each other. With the starting of small conversations, people can actually be gathered together which can bring a huge social change.

Does that mean social change from the ground up?

Actually, by doing this, people can make decisions on their own discussing with each other on something. So, then politicians or any other persons who have the upper hand, cannot manipulate them. We have to make spaces where people can interact and make a difference.

Has architecture toed the concept of market economy in vogue?

When people think about market economy, they visualize a formalized sector with malls, liquor shops, restaurants. Whereas, India has always been an informal sector of entrepreneurship where people are selling their own creations and leading a happy life. So, we should actually promote that.

Architecture is not just about buildings… What’s your take on that?

Yes of course, architecture is not just about building or designing a building. It’s about creating a solution to the problem that you are dealing with. And it’s actually great to be innovative in solutions. If we are asked to design or build a school or hospital, we make standard templates without questioning anything.

How do you challenge the templates while designing the buildings?

So, when you have to build something, you have to understand what the owners want and expect and you have to understand their perspective. You have to have a sensitivity to their issues and do a little research on it. And all this can be done with compassion.

At macro level, you solve social problems. But at micro levels, what do you learn from your interest in product design?

I like the development process of the product design. The designs, colours, patterns etc. all seem nice but there is a lot of research behind it. So, you have to be conscious and cannot make any mistake.

Sustainable architecture is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. What do you think?

In Southeast Asia, a lot of hybrid architecture is done. They use steel or other concrete material for main framing and fill it in with other materials. So, it gives a fresh look and when it’s degrading, then you can add some craft-based stuff to it. So, every time you give a new look to it. So, in this way, you can construct a building quickly and use the dying crafts of our country in it as well.

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