They say that the best way to predict the future is by designing it, and Ar Arun Prasad, Architect Planner, Arun, and Associates, has done exactly that! A young gun-based out of Coimbatore, Arun is not only passionate about his work but also very meticulous and foresighted. He has achieved a lot in the 20 years of his career. Today, his firm Arun Associates, one of the leading firms in South India, is associated with forward-thinking and path-breaking designs.
His work spans residences, commercial developments, institutions, industries, and public buildings. His small team of 25 is one of his biggest assets and has helped him with projects in South India and South Africa. Interestingly, Arun’s designs are conceptualized intuitively.
Passionate about material and technology, Arun invests a lot of time in research and constantly updating his knowledge. In fact, he has spent a lot of time understanding and experimenting with Modern Concrete Precast Technology and has been instrumental in setting up two Modern Concrete Precast plants (Teemage Precast In), one located at Kangeyam and the other in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He has designed more than 10 buildings using the Modern Concrete Precast Technology and is regarded as an expert in the technology.
Arun is also very keen on Urban Planning. He has been involved in city planning and has been helping the city corporation as a volunteer since 2006. He is also a CTAG (City Technical Advisory Group) member at JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) and the Smart City scheme. “I envision the city to be clean, with all the physical and social infrastructure in place. I also help in the rehabilitation of slums,” he says.
His current pet project is Sojourn Stays, a second home complex, in the hill station of Ooty and Coonoor. Here, he is working with the terrain to maximise the natural surroundings and make the best of the climate of the region.
With age on his side, and aided by his keen intuition, Arun is sure to become an architect to revolutionise the way we perceive design.
IN CONVERSATION WITH AR ARUN PRASAD
SG: Tell us a bit about your firm and your journey so far.
AP: The inception of the firm was in 1998. My father-in-law, a structural engineer with experience of more than 40 years, got involved in Industrial Architecture. He paved the way for me to explore the field. We started with two drafting technicians, and today we are a strong team of 30. When I began to practice, the language of architecture was classic - Spanish tiles on a sloping roof with RCC. It took us 10 years to break this shackle and evolve our own language of minimalism. Being a tier two town, we found it difficult to convince the clients in the early stages. Currently, we are handling around 50 projects across South India.
SG: Why did you choose to be an architect?
AP: You won’t believe me, but it’s something I decided on a whim. I once happened to meet my friend’s father, who was an architect, and saw his drawing boards. This was a eureka moment for me to pursue architecture, a form of art. Now when I look back, I think it was the best decision of my life!
SG: I’m sure you have worked on many projects in these 20 years of your career. But there is always a particular project which stays very close to one’s heart. Which is the most significant project you have done so far?
AP: That is a tough one. I think it would have to be my own home. Here, I had no restrictions in terms of Vastu and had the freedom to design. The project was featured as ‘Oblique House’ in a video by Buildofy. And another one would be a school at Avinashi, built using Modern Precast technology. I had the opportunity to travel with the client (Teemage Precast) to 5 countries in Europe to choose the precast concrete machinery and design the factory. The school was the first project to be built as a prototype. Construction was completed in three months at a phenomenal pace, which would normally take a year.
SG: That sounds like a lot of fun. And you clearly have a thing for concrete and technology. What do you think is your biggest USP?
AP: The patience and ability to conceptualise projects quickly. Today, ‘Speed is Design.’
SG: Well said! So, pick one, traditional architecture or modern?
AP: My take on design is about modern architecture with minimalism. Our practice takes cognizance of the multidisciplinary nature of contemporary architectural practice and fuses sensitivity with state-of-the-art technology. We contribute in reducing the carbon footprint of the buildings.
SG: What is that one quote that you swear by and why?
AP: ‘Light is God.’ My designs have always been about exploring natural light in a space that profoundly affects us, rather than adorning the space with decorations.
SG: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
AP: Elevating construction methods such as Precast and Prefab Technologies to become a dominant means of building in the modern world. I would like to get involved in precast, prefab construction where all construction activities are not in situ. This would minimize the errors as it takes place in a controlled environment with precise consumption of all used materials.
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