THE PER­FECT DE­SIGN

NAMITA SINGH

India Today - - COVER STORY -

“I al­ways wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent and make a name for my­self,” says Chandigarh-based em­i­nent ar­chi­tect Namita Singh, 65, who has to her credit pres­ti­gious projects in­clud­ing Asia’s big­gest naval academy in Ezhi­mala, Ker­ala. Singh, who started de­sign­ing in 1970, a time when men dom­i­nated the field, says that she was “hap­pily un­aware” of their at­ti­tude to­wards her. “I was brought up by very pro­gres­sive par­ents who al­ways in­sisted that it was merit that mat­tered, not gen­der. So, even if men didn’t take me se­ri­ously, it didn’t mat­ter to me,” she says. In­sist­ing that even af­ter so many years, ev­ery new project fas­ci­nates her, Singh, who has de­signed in­sti­tu­tional, commercial and res­i­den­tial build­ings adds, “It’s like de­liv­er­ing a baby. You just can’t imag­ine the sat­is­fac­tion an ar­chi­tect de­rives when he/she has seen on ground what was con­ceived on paper. I fall in love with each of my projects and take ev­ery one of them as a chal­lenge,” she says. Talk­ing about her pres­ti­gious naval base project, first phase of which is near com­ple­tion, Singh says, “It all started in way back in 1987 when our firm was selected af­ter an all-In­dia com­pe­ti­tion. More than 30 ar­chi­tects from across the coun­try had sub­mit­ted their bids. I would have been happy even if we got a small part of the project. We were a small firm op­er­at­ing out of a garage that time.” She says she doesn’t make mon­u­ments. “I make spa­ces for people. For me, the func­tion­al­ity of the de­sign for the end user is very im­por­tant,” she adds. The ar­chi­tect, who has been en­dowed with sev­eral awards in­clud­ing the Kalpana Chawla Ex­cel­lence award in 2009, in­sists that she doesn’t sub­mit her de­signs for award con­sid­er­a­tions any­more. “They have be­come a racket. It’s all about lob­by­ing and net­work­ing now, and not merit.” The ar­chi­tect reg­u­larly works with Wel­ham School in Dehradun and has de­signed the Dashmesh Academy in Anand­pur Sahib.

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