Building your career brick by brick
CHANGING SKYLINES From churches to colleges and schools, Ranjit P John has been following his passion and seeing his sketches translate to real, solid structures
As a schoolboy, Ranjit P John was captivated by the magnificence of old traditionally constructed buildings in Kerala, which included old churches and his own alma mater, St Berchmans College. Later, making career plans, he decided there was nothing better in life than designing buildings..
Talking to engineer friends and family members about his passion, John was advised to pursue a full-fledged graduate course in architecture. After completing his pre-degree course (Class 12 equivalent) from St Berchmans High School, he moved to Delhi in 1974, joining Gandhi-Mehta and Associates, an architectural firm in the city, as a drafting assistant and simultaneously started preparing for the entrance exam of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi.
John had also signed up for sketching classes to hone his skills in drawing, an important component of the entrance exam at SPA. “We were, in the test, supposed to make free hand sketches of various objects in different shades of light. This was done to test the visualising skill of the applicants,” says John. .
After he graduated from SPA with the gold medal for the highest scores in the history of the institute back then, John started assisting SPA professors Ranjit Sabikhi and Ajoy Choudhury with designing work.
In 1985, he started his own company and till date has worked on almost 1,000 projects, which include the YMCA Campus, Greater Noida; Jesus and Mary College, Chanakyapuri; Deepalaya School, Kalkaji; Trivandrum I nter national School, Trivandrum – Junior School Park; Renaissance School, Mathura; St Michael’s Church, Gurgaon; St Martin’s Church, Delhi Cantonment; Yusuf Sadan, Connaught Place; Mother Teresa’s Deepashram, Gurgaon and Shanthigiri Ashram, Saket.
From schools, colleges, spiritual homes to old age homes, orphanages, homes for tribal people, dispensaries in rural areas, churches and ashrams, he has done it all.
While working, John says architects create conceptual sketches based on their understanding of client requirements. They need to factor in the scale and nature of the site of construction, the direction of light and even the budget for the project.
The conceptual sketch is then presented to clients. Based on their inputs, architects might re- work or modify the same. Detailed drawings are then
Following this, detailed drawings of the project are made and approvals sought from local authorities, including the municipality, chief fire officer, Airports Authority of India (if the project is in the flight path).
“While designing the project, an architect needs to keep in mind the local municipal laws, building bylaws and the national building code,” says John.
It takes about six months from conceptualisation to starting of execution depending on the project and the city. After getting the requisite approvals architects start work on projects in coordination with consultants in diverse fields such as carpentry, plumbing, and air conditioning
Architects also need to float tenders for bigger projects, analyse proportions of materials required to complete the project and approve tender applications in consultation with project owners.
It is one of the most promising sectors one can work for. If you’re good, one project always leads to another, John says.
Imagine every creation before you create it, says architect Ranjit P John. In the background is the YMCA Campus, Greater Noida, that he has designed.