A chat with con­ser­va­tion architect Dr. Benny Kuri­akose

The Ideal Home and Garden - - Contents - IMPRESSIONS: BENOY SEBASTIAN

A name syn­ony­mous with ar­chi­tec­tural con­ser­va­tion and cost-ef­fec­tive ar­chi­tec­ture, Dr. Benny Kuri­akose’s ad­her­ence to the univer­sal prin­ci­ples of ar­chi­tec­ture is no­tice­able in his work, be it in­di­vid­ual houses, re­sorts or in­sti­tu­tional projects

How did you get into ar­chi­tec­ture?

It was an ac­ci­den­tal meet­ing with Lau­rie Baker that brought me into ar­chi­tec­ture. Once I started as an ap­pren­tice with him, I was learn­ing about dif­fer­ent as­pects of ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign. I would say that I learned the ba­sic les­sons of ar­chi­tec­ture from him. When I de­signed build­ings dur­ing the ini­tial phase of my ca­reer, I would show the de­signs to him, and he would sug­gest some changes. Dur­ing the first few years of my prac­tice, I strictly used to fol­low the Baker style, but, later on I de­cided to break away from

it. I started think­ing about in­no­vat­ing on my own, and to­day, the world is wit­ness to my var­ied works.

What kind of projects are your forte?

I am known more for projects like Dak­shi­na­chi­tra or Muziris Her­itage Project, which are once in a life­time projects. About 50 per cent of the projects that I do are con­ser­va­tion based ones, although I also spe­cialise in res­i­dences, re­sorts and in­sti­tu­tions. I think my forte is in do­ing projects, which are out of the box. All the projects that I un­der­take look very dif­fer­ent. There was a time when as an architect, I never used to do in­te­ri­ors, apart­ments, com­mer­cial com­plexes, etc. How­ever, now I do main­stream projects that ul­ti­mately have the power to change the face of the city.

Your favourite project?

All the projects that I have done till date are very close to my heart. There have been projects where I have taken a lot of time to fin­ish them, and even to­day, I am emo­tion­ally at­tached to them. In­sti­tute of Pal­lia­tive Medicine, Muziris Her­itage Project are my favourites.

The suc­cess of any project is a com­bi­na­tion of the client, the architect, the con­trac­tor and the crafts­men.”

Where do you de­rive your in­spi­ra­tion from?

The client’s brief is im­por­tant for me. I want each project to be dif­fer­ent, and I want each one of them to be my best project. I do a lot of re­search be­fore start­ing a new project. Some of my architect friends ask me how I am get­ting these dif­fer­ent types of projects. My an­swer is sim­ple - it is you as an architect, and your ideas, which make the project dif­fer­ent. The suc­cess of any project is a com­bi­na­tion of the client, the architect, the con­trac­tor and the crafts­men.

What has been your big­gest achieve­ment so far?

I de­signed the In­sti­tute of Pal­lia­tive Medicine in Cali­cut. There are in-pa­tients, so it is de­signed like a hospi­tal. Although the build­ing was opened for pub­lic, there was still some work to be com­pleted. Dur­ing one of my rou­tine vis­its, I asked one of the res­i­dent pa­tient - Do you like the hospi­tal? The cancer pa­tient’s an­swer was that half his ill­ness van­ished when he reached the place. If your de­sign is good, then the users will think about you. Tarangam­abdi hous­ing scheme for the fish­er­men and Muziris Her­itage Project, are two projects that I am proud of.

What is your ul­ti­mate goal, and what do you want to be re­mem­bered for?

De­sign is very pow­er­ful. I want to be re­mem­bered for what I do. If my de­sign is rel­e­vant in the fu­ture, then peo­ple will re­mem­ber me.

Dr. Benny Kuri­akose

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