Meet the winners of Asia Young Designer Awards 2019

Winners of the Asia Young Designer Awards 2019 explain how to build sustainable urban infrastructure, without disrupting the fundamental ecosystem

Published - February 03, 2020 04:08 pm IST

Mihir Desai and Purvi Tank have qualified for the Asia Young Designer Awards 2020

Mihir Desai and Purvi Tank have qualified for the Asia Young Designer Awards 2020

How many of us know of the many ecosystems that lie hidden in our localities? How does one define ‘home’? What is the relevance of the Russian practice of building dachas or holiday homes? Recently, at the Asia Young Designer Awards 2019 by Nippon Paints, as many as 2,000 students across the country participated in an attempt to transform the future of built environments.

These are among the many questions that popped up, lining along the theme of ‘Forward: A Sustainable Future’. The winners, Mihir Desai (Architecture) and Purvi Tank (Interior design), who have qualified for the Asia Young Designer Awards 2020, to be held in Vietnam between March 11 and 14, speak to MetroPlus about their ideas.

Latent gems

Mihir’s background and interest lie in finding solutions to urban issues that deal with ecosystems and how land-based reserves tend to endanger them. Currently working as a consultant and researcher with Tata Institute, Mumbai, Mihir who lives in Goregaon, came up with this idea in early 2017. “I have been staying here for 25 years. Still, I didn’t know anything about the different ecosystems that surround the location until very recently. This very thought that none of us knew about the forest, mangroves and wetlands despite being here for so long, was a key entering point for me,” says the 25-year-old. He was also keen on how a city can produce citizens with no awareness on their immediate reality.

Mihir’s background and interest lie in finding solutions to urban issues

Mihir’s background and interest lie in finding solutions to urban issues

The reason why this is so is because most of these ecosystems barely have any access to residents. They are either under State-ownership or private ownership and almost always remain barricaded. “My project titled Land X Architecture, essentially looks at the very idea of first understanding how we can draw these patches on to an urban landscape through maps. The relationship between people and the landscape will be explicit on the map,” says Mihir, adding that in the developmental plan of Goregaon, these ecosystems do not even surface.

“When you draw the map of a landscape without portraying its existing realities, when it comes to a planner, they propose anything they want to without knowing the existing conditions.” Even while developing this idea, Mihir felt that his perspective is limited only to design. This led him to take up a course in Marine Biology — now he is able to rethink his project in a redefined way. “Earlier in my work, the non-human/animal aspect was missing which I later incorporated,” says Mihir.

Land X Architecture, thus, is a map, which can show us a way to practise and create equitable access to sustainable architecture, under the context of global climate change.

A place called home

Purvi Tank, on the other hand, tries to derive a balance between living with Nature in a community-oriented set-up. She always finds herself on an eternal search for ‘home’. The project titled ‘Dacha in the city: SML & XL, is devised from the perspective of millennials who are involved in shifting jobs.

Purvi Tank focuses on community-oriented set-up

Purvi Tank focuses on community-oriented set-up

“We are always travelling as students in an urban setting. Right now, I live in isolation. If I am a social person, what kind of housing can I look for, was a question that bothered me. In this day and age, a lot of young people have mental health problems that come from social isolation. How can integration happen?,” says Purvi (26), adding that the idea took form in four to five months, right after her graduation.

To formalise the idea, she took the social and housing conditions of Russia as point of comparison. On further research, she chanced upon the dacha concept in Russia: essentially a ‘weekend house’. Added to this, was Russians’ penchant towards co-living or community housing. Considering base as ‘volume’ instead of the area, the design gives a resident the opportunity to live in a house beyond just a flat plane. “What could be the ideal setting — an intermediary. I concentrate on that. My idea can be used as a guideline to improve existing set-ups,” she adds.

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