“We draw, we make, we think, we act” – this is the ideology that leads RLDA, a design studio established in 1997 in New Delhi. Founded by Rahoul B. Singh, the firm also has at its helm Lakshmi Chand Singh and Gautam Chima. Over the years RLDA has successfully completed a number of projects for the retail, hospitality, commercial and residential sectors.
The diverse and committed team ensures that each project is the result of a multidisciplinary approach. Critically examining and questioning the variables that have a direct impact on the quality of the designs and the environments they shape, has become a hallmark of the practice.
Through a combination of traditional and digital techniques of construction and assembly, RLDA’s projects exude a high level of both conceptual resolution and constructional detailing.
The essence of architecture these days is defined by an unending series of iterations, be them made by writers, critics or the members of the architectural fraternity at large.
As urbanisation is on a veritable rampage, there lies an important question ahead all of us. Cities are bound to grow, you need no soothsayer to tell you that, but how can we make sure that they grow sustainably and – what’s more – even-handedly?
To get to the bottom of such important questions, we present here an interview with team, RLDA.
For RLDA, what is architecture?
For RLDA architecture is a culturally situated and situating discipline. It is one that is engaged with by the simultaneous acts of drawing, making and thinking. The process begins with the representation of intent and the construction of an argument; it culminates in the material reality of its intent and the appropriation or inhabitation of it by people. The architecture, must act with responsibility towards the physical environment within which it is situated and the cultural environment wherein it resides.
What’s an emerging trend that you think will make the sustainability world sit up and think?
Sustainability, in and by itself does not represent neither an end nor the zenith. Increasingly, successful projects are the result of the confluence of a number of factors, of which sustainability is one part. Culture, historic building traditions, a vision of the future, and the adeptness of the architect in his or her metier all play a critical part.
Collectively, they create a trampoline like effect which ultimately propels a project onto a historical stage. The interweaving of sustainability and culture into an agent of change is a trend that will start to define an increasing number of projects in the future.
Tell us about that one idea that has fascinated you recently?
We have two! The first idea that has recently captured our imagination has to do with the pictorial organisation of space in both Mughal miniature painting and fifteenth century Persian carpets of the Safavid dynasty.
The second is the manner in which we can create high performance buildings by using a very limited palette of architectural elements.
In recent projects, both of these have had a profound influence in creating humane and highly effective spaces that embody within them high levels of performance and sustainable criteria.
Was there a mentor who really inspired you or a time and place where you realised you were headed down the creative road that you’re on now?
We were fortunate to have had a good education and in the course of that and our travels to have met some fascinating people.
A historian had a profound influence on our work by illustrating the multiple manners in which one can interpret architectural history and its translation into twentieth century architecture.
Just as the power of the idea associated with the architecture of Corbusiers Capitol complex in Chandigarh can’t help but move you when you visit it, so does the image of the Hagia Sophia when it was first built. Both of these were early influences but like all great architecture, still continue to fascinate and inspire!
How do you manage to adhere to your desired style of architecture in this turbulent environment?
We don’t have a house style and so that is not really a problem for us! Our projects are the result of a process that involves drawing, making and thinking. This results in projects that are specific to their locale, their people and their climate. The process helps situate projects within current cultural production while grounding them within the specificities of their place.
Where do you think architecture is headed and what would your advice be to a budding Indian architect?
Architecture is increasingly going to be more and more people and place centric. Importantly, it’s also going to be more collaborative and increasingly multidisciplinary. People are going to want more from their buildings and habitats.
The mere attainment of functional objectives will not be sufficient; architecture increasingly in the future will be a tool for social empowerment, one that is grounded in its specific physical and cultural context.
For architects entering the profession and even for seasoned architects, it is imperative that we constantly engage with the acts of drawing, making and thinking!
Compiled By Mala Bajaj