Arun Karthik, Managing Director, DesignQube, “a curated consortium” of architects and interior designers in Chennai, talks to Lakshmi Krupa about finding inspiration, new-age material, the future of the city’s design and more...
Challenge! A challenge is what inspires us. The challenge in being able to make a difference in the lifestyles of clientele across various budgets and backgrounds efficiently.
What is your favourite project, and why?
The architectural design of an office building for a light electronics company in Chennai is one of my favorites. For the first time we found a client who gave us a constraint free design capacity that helped us spread our wings to explore environment-friendly concepts over conventional concepts like Vastu.
Intentional use of glass on the building façade not just to make a corporate statement but also to explore concepts of building physics by creating a pressure difference to induce passive ventilation was the core idea. The objective was to make it work real-time at the most needed hours, decided and controlled by the prevailing solar intensity with out the use of any automation systems.
How do you strike a balance in architecture between new-age material and vernacular practices?
Evaluating the competency of new-age materials in their advantages over conventional materials, helps us strike the balance. We always compare the value additions they bring to the projects as opposed to just cosmetic appeal.
How would you like to see the city’s architecture evolve?
We would like to see a transformation in the fabric of commercial architecture where natural materials take their respect over superficial counterparts like ACP cladding and structural glazing. Chennai has a long way to go to shed its whims towards unnatural gloss and appreciate the acquired taste of harmonious compositions. The city is yet to get its skyline identity and we hope to see proportionately designed structures taking their credit.
What projects are you working on currently?
We are working on a multitude of projects across typologies and scale. To name a few – a 6 BHK residential interior in Besant Nagar, a three lakh sq. ft building-integrated solar and wind-powered group housing project in Coimbatore, a few residential development projects ranging from 3 to 18 acres, a modest cost-effective vernacular farm house in Melmaruvathur, renovation of a multi-storey hospital in Cambodia, a 5.5 acre film shooting studio in Chennai, a Balinese style terrace garden design for a celebrity’s residence, a couple of resort projects in Kothagiri, Munnar and a dozen of beach houses in ECR.
Can you tell us more about DesignQube and its people?
DesignQube is a curated consortium of young, eager, and creative yet resourceful architects and interior designers with a passion to make a bold and beautiful difference to the design fabric of the city. Our strength lies in our perspective of equality where we treat all our projects across scale and budgets with equally high importance. We’ve grown from one to 50 in a span of 3.5 years by being an ethically commercial firm who take pride in being honest in our transactions with our clients’ vendors and contractors. We are purely a consultancy firm and thus we’ve always been able to work along the financial interests of different clients without affecting the importance every project deserves.
We understand the importance of team work, glorify team spirit and also individual development. Our system helps every one of our designers to take ownership of every single project they work on with ever sustaining fervor, efforts and rewards. And since we’ve in-house experts on everything from design, visualization, engineering, project management, quality control, research and development, we’re able to deliver the best of us in the shortest time possible. We’ve constantly scaled up ourselves to meet the growing needs of the city and expect to keep doing so in the future too!