The GEN Z Series travels back home to Mumbai from the National University of Singapore. Shweta Kumari is a fifth year B. Arch student at Dr. Baliram Hiray College of Architecture, University of Mumbai. She has been inclined towards arts since her early childhood. She enthuses, “I have always been involved in problem-solving and taken calculated risks, which I believe is the proper process for designing.”
Johnny D interacts with Shweta Kumari to understand her journey into architecture and her proposed project ‘Covid Comprehensive Treatment Center’ at Aurangabad, Maharashtra in India.
Briefly describe your project.
In today’s time, the global pandemic of COVID – 19 has resulted in a surge in the medical field. Worldwide, it is required to establish specific treatment facilities to curb the heavy casualty. India is on the front foot to take up the challenge of this pandemic situation. Hence, establishing such dedicated specialized medical facilities is the need of the hour. Under this mission, it is decided by the government to build a CCTC – Covid Comprehensive Treatment Center at various places. One of these CCTCs, a 200-bed is decided to be built at Aurangabad.
The proposed design is created keeping in mind that the patients are often fearful and confused and these feelings may impede recovery. Every effort has been made to make the hospital stay comfortable and stress-free as far as possible. Views of the outdoors have been provided from every patient’s bed and at appropriate places. Spacious circulation and zoning have been emphasized accordingly.
Your childhood ambition, did you always wanted to become an architect?
I am a passion-driven person. I enjoy pursuing my education according to my interests. Since my childhood, I was interested in creating something new that is aesthetically pleasing and problem solving. This interest helped me explore the field of designing. I chose architecture as a career, where creative results are directly relative to the needs and demands of humans. Despite the fact that none of my family members are related to this field, they have been very supportive of my choice.
What does ‘architecture’ means to you?
To me, architecture is all about spaces and empathy. It is about how we design the spaces keeping in mind the end users. Architecture is supposed to make us feel something. It is a form of poetry to me, which evokes feelings in humans. Although it is very difficult to create something from scratch, architecture teaches us to think designs and how to materialize our ideas keeping in mind the technicalities of construction, society and cultural values of the context.
How has it influenced your life as an architecture student?
Architecture course has definitely given me a keen eye for the details. It has taught me that small things are the ones that matter a lot. Be it a small architectural detail or a full façade design, everything has to be taken care of as an architect. As an architecture student, we are taught a very diverse range of subjects starting from history of architecture and principles of design to structural analysis of buildings, thus broadening our horizons to a greater extent. Being an architect also gives some sense of responsibility towards the human race and environment, which should always be kept in mind while designing a project.
Which Indian or International architect has inspired you? Please specify as to why?
I have been inspired by the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. He believes that our buildings and architecture should evolve with time and his ‘Yes is More’ manifesto is a comic book, which he has created to express the importance of ‘thinking big’, treating problems as challenges and finding sources of genuine inspiration.
He describes the role of architecture in changing society as making it fit to our wishes: “When something does not fit anymore, we architects have the ability – and responsibility – to make sure that our cities do not force us to adapt to outdated leftovers from the past, but actually fit to the way we want to live”. Bjarke Ingels combines the evolutionary thoughts from Darwin and the creative power from Nietzsche to create a powerful architectural mixture, which not only looks good but also is sustainable.
How has the pandemic changed your learning process since the last two years?
The pandemic has pretty much changed my way of life forever. It has been an extremely difficult phase for almost all of us, especially architects, whose work is mostly based on practical knowledge and frequent site visits. These were put to a halt, but I am very grateful to my professors who made so much effort to make each of us understand all the practicalities virtually.
It was during the pandemic period when I joined The Landmark Design Studio, where I gained immense insights regarding the real facets of architecture. It was also during this time that I got introduced to ‘Art Therapy’ which has worked wonders for my mental health. I was able to help many others too, with it. In conclusion, it was pretty difficult to accept the changes at first, but I am glad I got to learn new things and explore more of design and technology.
What are your views on Climatic catastrophes and how architects of the future (your generation) will overcome the herculean challenge?
Climatic catastrophes can lead to change in precipitation patterns, societal collapse and increased temperature among many other additional concerns. Green design is the need of the hour as it involves design and construction practices that significantly eliminate or reduce the negative impacts of building on the environment and occupants. Green building refers to both the structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.
As architects, it is our responsibility towards society to understand that environment and development are intertwined. Therefore, it must be systematically integrated in the design process to produce environment-friendly designs, thus achieving sustainable development to protect health and well- being while also protecting the global environment and ecosystems for future generations.
Briefly write about your University and the course.
I am a fifth year student at Dr. Baliram Hiray College of Architecture, University of Mumbai. I have been involved with various art and design-driven activities. I am the Design Head at my University, where I got exposed to many new realms of designing. Architecture is not only limited to designing buildings, it is a part of our culture. It impacts people not only on a personal level, but also on a societal level. Architecture is not only arts and science, but also psychology, management and much more. It is a multidisciplinary course, which covers a wide range of subjects.
Image Courtesy: Shweta Kumari