Breathe In History with Colonial Homes

Many of us prefer Colonial style architecture when it comes to building our homes in our choice. It could be our ‘colonial past influence’ where we were introduced by the British and their architecture type like Indo-Saracenic revival architecture and era of Neo-classical architecture of India.


Colonial architecture is clean, precise and inspired by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Britishers used them frequently, roughly in 17th Century and took their architectures overseas where they created a balance between traditions from home and adaptations in a new land.
French Colonial Architecture
French Colonial homes were predominantly built in the South, they feature higher ceilings for ventilation purposes. This typically include tall windows (called French Windows) on the main and second floor, other characteristic like a raised ‘basement,’ a wide porch (known as the galerie), a brick chimney, exterior stairs, second-floor porch that is often accessible through French doors.

British Colonial Architecture
This type of architecture was defined by a high devotion to symmetry, especially the facade. This symmetry was generally achieved through the placement of doors and windows in the two stories of well-to-do houses. Wood and brick were the most common building materials, largely due to the availability of these materials more than anything else.

Dutch Colonial Architecture
Dutch houses also very frequently featured paired chimneys, one at each end of the rectangular house. They were also noted for the use of a Dutch door, which has a top half that opens while the bottom half stays shut. Usually made up of stone or brick.

Major Characteristics:

Symmetrical Design
One of the most notable features of Colonial-style homes is its symmetrical structure. Most structures are square or rectangular in shape with brick or clapboard siding. The most common designs include either two stories or one and a half with dormers.


Pitched Roof
Early Colonial style homes were designed with a steeply pitched roof to shed heavy loads of snow. This characteristic survives today and is one of the most recognizable features of Colonial style architecture.

Decorative Entrance Ways
The entrance way of many Colonial style homes is adorned

with a pediment, which forms a decorative crown and may be extended to create a covered porch. Others may be embellished with classical columns or two-story pilasters.

Balanced Window Placement
Most homes feature a window on each side of the entry way and three to five windows on the second floor. The windows are most often multi-paned, double-hung with shutters.

Morphing into the New: Morphogenesis

Morphogenesis is one of India’s leading award-winning Architecture and Urban Design practices. It prides itself for reinterpreting India’s architectural roots and consistently employs passive design solutions for a unique contextual language. Its work encompasses a range of typologies across Architecture, Interiors and Landscape Urbanism…



Morphogenesis, as the name suggests, is not your everyday architecture firm that is built around a single idea or practice or, the ideology of the founders. The name Morphogenesis as it essentially means refers to the origins and development of form in response to nature which includes process, and structure. Set up in 1996 by Manit Rastogi and his wife and partner, Sonali, built the firm with a shared vision of defining a new emergent Indian architecture. The core ethos of the company is a very bottom-up approach of pursuing process whereby the product would be an outcome of that process. The firm firmly believes that not pursuing a definitive style or to be identified by the work or ideology of the founders but a result of the process that they were pursuing.

Manit studied architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi from 1986, while his earlier formative years were spent in Africa and England. Belonging to a family of Engineers, mostly from the reputed IITs, his interest in architecture comes as no surprise. He says in an interview, “I think it just sort of happens, like a generational thing. The expectation is that you would be an engineer and mine was definitely not to be one.

I cannot really say that I went to architecture school because I am one of those people who always wanted to be an architect but I always wanted to make things. I was contemplating Genetic Engineering at one point- Generics more than anything else. But architecture was something that was very close.”
His father is a civil engineer and during his career, spent his work life in building roads, bridges and highways. For Manit, the choice of architecture came more as a choice based on his experiences, knowing and observing his family. He added, “Architecture was sort of that one profession that allowed me the potential to build something and at the same time let me be the generalist across the board. Hence it was architecture. I then gave the entrance and joined SPA.”

After completing their Architecture studies from SPA, Delhi, Sonali and Manit proceeded to spend a long stint at The Architectural Association, London where Manit pursued his interest in the study of nature, evolution and design processes in association with John Frazer. He also acquired a degree in energy and Environment Studies with Simos Yannas. Sonali studied Housing and Urbanism with

George Fiori and at ‘The Design Lab’ with Jeff Kipnis. Bringing together their bouquet of interests Morphogenesis was born with a vision to contribute to the definition of sustainable architecture for modern India. It was during those formative years in London when Sonali and Manit were completing their Masters, that they both first felt the absence of “India” in the global architectural circuit. While it was exciting for them to attend public lectures, the lack of mention of Indian Architecture was pinching. She recollected – it was in that moment when the entrepreneurial instinct first stung them and the desire to tell the world about their perception of ‘futuristic architecture’ triggered- and, thus, Morphogenesis came into existence in 1996, when the two returned to India.

Sonali is ardently interested in the materiality and craft in architecture and is deeply invested in the detail of building. A strong proponent of the arts, she is also a founder member of Manthan, a platform for creative individuals who seek to share, discuss, engage with and evolve concepts and ideologies. A Fellow of the IIA (Indian Institute of Architects) and the RSA (Royal Society of Arts, UK), she also extends her impact on the built environment as council member of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission.


According to the Founders, they have tried their best to maintain the core ethos of Morphogenesis as they had wished when they first started out. They add that as much of their focus is on the process of design, they spend even more time on the process of how they work now. Manit adds, “There are 4-5 things that determine how our working processes function.

Some of the firm’s early work included teaching, helping people organise exhibitions and so on. They had an exhibition in Norway at Galleri Rom and then at the RIBA in London in their initial years.

Mahit adds, “Between teachings and the early days of practice, we got our first project which was a small, 400 square feet interior project. That project sort of did well with a few little things which seemed clever at the time, but probably not and someone saw that. Before we knew it we were participating in our first competition in our first year of practice which was the Apollo Tyres Corporate Office.

There were five very established firms that were shortlisted, from mid to large size firms across India and we were sort of by then just four-person firm that participated in the bid. That was a great, fun exercise and I still do not know how they gave us that project.

It was a reasonably large project at that time and a lakh and a half square feet to give to a start-up practice! I think what they saw in our work at the time was what excited them and all credit goes to the Board of Apollo Tyres as they had the faith that someone who has never built anything more than a 400 square feet interior would deliver a 1,00,000 square feet building and achieve all that we had pledged.”

Needless to say that it was a good break for the new firm especially with a reputed brand like Apollo and of course, they gave it their very best. They did many firsts with this building at that time. Firstly, they deconstructed the idea of the office as a singular building, broke it up into multiple parts, built a type of mini city, brought in everything that they knew about passive design, orientations, courtyards, terrace gardens, 100 percent day lighting, linked all the building services to human occupancy etc.

In a way they were the first to working on building intelligence but linked to human occupancy that had to do a lot of coding at that time. He says, “Probably it is quite common to do these things, but the various bits of technologies did not talk to each other.

So the card access technology did not talk to the chiller plant, which did not talk to the lighting system, which did not talk to the fire alarm! Nothing was talking to each other and we had to write protocols to do this which is generally not an architect’s job and I guess should not be but it was great fun. We started that building in ’97 and finished it in ’99. By ’99 March in 15 months flat, all done- full interiors, everything, won an IA award for it, never looked back.”

At Morphogenesis, learning is an integral part of the experience. The Founders feel that when people leave, whether they leave after a year or after 20 years – this must have been the best learning experience of their life and that is the environment that they constantly strive to create and work towards.

According to the Founders, they have tried their best to maintain the core ethos of Morphogenesis as they had wished when they first started out. They add that as much of their focus is on the process of design, they spend even more time on the process of how they work now. Manit adds, “There are 4-5 things that determine how our working processes function. And we have got names for these processes. The first process is ‘First Time Right’. It essentially means that no architect in this firm, from the time you have finished your 4th or 5th year and you come in as a trainee or as a first year; should be made to do the same thing twice because the instructions were incorrect. It is a very rigorous process of first getting all the information, getting your research right, working out what the metrics are for the success of the project, and then everyone in the team works towards that. The objectives are clear. And the winning team is the one where everyone can sense the way it should be at the right point in time and therefore you pre-empt everything. That is ‘First Time Right’.”

The second principle that they pursue is ‘Jack of All and Master of One’. Here, the team is exposed to everything and then they begin to pick something that they are interested in and then they become a ‘Master of One’. They also have to write and publish research papers on that idea so that this thought spreads to everyone else. This helps architects to cope and they can learn from a successful hospitality project and apply it to an affordable housing projector to a master planning project. The firm believes that there are bits and pieces that fit everywhere and it is that ‘connecting the dots’ that sort of leads to a holistic growth.

Then the third principle is ‘Train to Re-place’ which every organisation can learn from. Manit explains, “As you move through the years, you only move up the ladder so to speak if you can train the person below you to take your place.

And that we found was important so that no one hoards information, and information is not used as means of part. Everyone’s culture here is to make sure that whoever they are working with, they are enabling them to be able to take their place, only then will they be able to take someone else’s. It is a learning cycle which is our ‘Train to Place’ program and then we have the ‘Publish or Perish’.”He says, “In our firm as a piece of advice to anyone who joins it – ‘Doing good work is not about managing your own competency. It is about managing everyone else’s incompetency.’ So you should understand that everyone that is doing work here may not be doing their job and you have to work with that and through that deliver excellence and you will get it right.”

Over the past two decades, the firm has evolved into a vibrant cross-disciplinary team comprised of Architects, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects, Urban Designers, 3D Visualizers and Researchers, with diverse backgrounds and specializations from universities the world over. With offices in Delhi and Bangalore, their work spans across India, SAARC Countries and South Africa.

Morphogenesis has been ranked yet again for the sixth time running, among the Top 100 Architectural Design Firms worldwide in the definitive WA100 2017 list, UK. The practice is the recipient of over 80 awards which include being India’s first WAF award winners, 5 IIA Awards to its credit, and 2014 Laureates of the Singapore Institute of Architects Getz Award. Its work has featured in over 600 publications, both International and National. Sonali and Manit Rastogi have co-authored an architectural monograph released in March 2017; ‘Morphogenesis: The Indian Perspective, The Global Context’ published by Images Australia under their Master Architect Series.

In 2009, Morphogenesis became the first Indian practice to win a World Architecture Festival (WAF) Award and the Laureates of Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) Getz Award in 2014 for their work.

Some of their clients include Ascendas Singbridge, Tata Housing, TRIL, Mahindra Lifespaces, Maker, Adani Realty, Piramal Fund Mgmt, Ambuja Neotia, TRUMP, Bharti Land, Infosys, Wipro, ITC, BSE, Zydus Cadila, The British Council, Micromax, RP-SG, Ascott, Starwood, Lalit, ITC Hotels, Somerset and IHG.

Manit adds that the firm was set up with the idea that it perpetuate beyond its founders which is why it was named Morphogenesis to begin with. But for that to happen, he feels that practices all around must learn, and architectural practices in particular must learn not only to create buildings but to create environments that bring in talent, nurture talent, and grow talent. More we see the number of schools increase, more the number of students of architecture are graduating. He feels that it is useless to see why everyone in their field must go out and setup a practice to face again the rigmarole that has already been set up.

At Morphogenesis, learning is an integral part of the experience. The Founders feel that when people leave, whether they leave after a year or after 20 years – this must have been the best learning experience of their life and that is the environment that they constantly strive to create and work towards.

In conclusion Manit adds, “Morphogenesis is an incubation centre. It has to be. It is the ‘Old Bold Ateliers’ that lead the school of architecture like The Apprentice. And the apprentice eventually becomes the Master and that cycle and that process has to continue.

Ceilings That Create a Modern Twist to Home Architecture

Ceilings are often used to hide roof construction. They have been favourite places for decoration from the earliest times: either by painting the flat surface, by emphasizing the structural members of roof, or by treating it as a field for an overall pattern of relief…


In modern architecture ceilings may be divided into two major classes—the suspended (or hung) ceiling and the exposed ceiling. With ceilings hung at some distance below the structural members, some architects have sought to conceal great amounts of mechanical and electrical equipment, such as electrical conduits, air-conditioning ducts, water pipes, sewage lines, and lighting fixtures. Most suspended ceilings use a lightweight metal grid suspended from the structure by wires or rods to support plasterboard sheets or acoustical tiles.

Exposed Ceiling
Beams, trusses or system piping are revealed in an exposed ceiling. Wooden beams and trusses found in original construction of older homes lend a sense of history to a room. Fabricated beams made to look like wood can also be attached to a ceiling. Exposed system elements, such as duct work and piping, give a modernist, loft ambiance to a room, creating an open and industrial feel.

Tray Ceiling
A tray ceiling begins as a normal ceiling. The drama begins when it rises, most often in the center of the room, creating a recess of at least 6 inches. Tray ceilings can also be dropped, becoming a floating false ceiling.

Coffered Ceiling
Similar to a tray ceiling, a coffered ceiling has several recesses covering the entire ceiling surface. Often lined with decorative molding, coffered ceilings add strength to the room’s construction. Coffers add height and depth to the feel of a room.

Vaulted Ceilings
An architectural design element, a vaulted ceiling peaks at the center of a room, or follows the roof line. An off-side vault, or a simple angle running upwards to the roof line also adds drama to a room. Skylights and paint enhance the vault.

Barrel Vault
Originating in Roman architecture, a barrel vault looks like a barrel that’s cut in half and tacked to the ceiling. Found in major rooms of a home or down a long hallway, barrel vaults in natural stone or brick are dramatic. A stark, modernist look for a barrel vault is created with lightly toned or white paint.

Domed Ceiling
Unlike a barrel vault, a domed ceiling opens up a specific area of a room. Often found in tight hallways or above a sweeping staircase, the dome is a blank canvas for a mural. Creative inset lighting or a cascading chandelier adds to the cachet of the dome.

Cove Ceilings
A coved ceiling curves up from the four main walls of a room and leads to the actual ceiling. Coving is applied as a molding attached between the wall and ceiling or is incorporated into the architecture of the room. Usually painted white to match the floor molding, a dramatic effect is achieved with paint or texture. Coves are also found as arches separating one living space from another.

Up and Close with Design Architect Shabnam Gupta

In a world of celebrity homes and contemporary design in India, a name oft stands out – Shabnam Gupta. Her brand The Orange Lane today is one of the most recognised design firms that conjures up visual wonders in urban designs whilst maintaining its inspiration from nature and from the rich cultural diversity of India. From urban residential to weekend countryside homes, and from lifestyle stores to hospitality projects, her canvas of work encompasses a wide spectrum. Urban Vaastu explores…


Celebrity designer and architect, Shabnam Gupta founded her pet architecture and interior design firm, The Orange Lane over a decade and a half ago in 2003 in Mumbai. Today, she is well-known in the Indian design and interior circles for her bursts of colours and textures and, a unique contemporary design palette.

After graduating in interior design from L.S. Raheja College of Architecture, she honed her skills in various architectural and design projects by working with architect Tushar Desai before setting up her own practice. Before setting up The Orange Lane, Shabnam had set up a popular furniture and retail brand, Peacock Life in 2011 offering an affordable range of designer furniture and decor products, and bespoke design services.

The store offers a collection of earthy, recycled and environment-friendly products that reflect the aesthetic of both the old and the new.Under her able leadership and creative direction, the brand grew steadily in stature to become a prestigious name in the realm of interior design.

Shabnam Gupta makes use of spaces to tell stories. She has an artist’s imagination, and a visionary’s eyes to articulate narratives through beautiful design.

Known for her versatile accents, Shabnam Gupta has been involved in more than 150 plus projects in India across genres – from hospitality and homes to retail design and commercial offices. Over the years, Shabnam Gupta has carved a niche for herself, drawing inspiration mostly from Indian culture blended with Indian sensibilities and idiosyncratic elements. All her experiences in life till date have added on to her creativity and inspired Gupta to appreciate and celebrate the simple things in life – emotions, people, nature and travel.

Growing up, Shabnam has many memories of her travels in and around India. Her parents, both media professionals, exposed her to the outdoors and nature during their professional and personal pursuits that has surely left an indelible mark in her imagination and allowed her to blossom into the fine professional she is today. She feels that destiny really played a great part in paving the creative route for her.

She adds, “My father wanted me to take up Home Science but I quit within the first week and enrolled myself in design school. So, as they say, I didn’t choose the design life, it chose me!” She reminisces that she was quite a rebel growing up and felt that at some point, her father was quite apprehensive that she wouldn’t turn out to be the lady that he thought she should be.Over the years, her most valuable lessons have come to her from her parents who have also been her mentors.

Like all parents, they have ensured that their daughter was grounded and accepted the realities of life, which they would have known and faced in their active lifetime. “They have always taught me to be disciplined and not get swayed or carried away in any phase of life. From my practise, I have learnt that nothing happens because of a single person in my profession, and it is foolish to think that you are solely responsible for how far you have come.”

From designing celebrity homes and private residences across the country to top hotels, restaurants and bars in the city, she has left no stone unturned in setting very high standards in interior design. Obviously her work has been much appreciated and very well received by everyone which has led to Shabnam amassing a bulletin-worthy of awards and accolades. Her design can be best described as a balanced intermingling of indoor and outdoor elements, elaborate walls with murals along with a drizzle of rare furniture pieces that are unique to her projects and styles. She says that “there is no math. I go with the flow and believe that each space will demand its design for us – and it generally does.” She was listed among the ‘7 Interior Designers & Architects To Watch Out For’ by Forbes India in 2010 and the Elle Club 2012, The IID National Awards for Best Hospitality Project in 2012, the International Property Award in the Residential and Hospitality categories in 2014, the AD50 2017 Award for the 50 most influential architects and interior designers and her works have been published in the coffee table book’s 50 Most Beautiful Homes in India. She also won the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2016-17 for designing Parineeti Chopra’s residence.


She was also featured in one of the country’s first home makeover shows.
With several stellar projects under her name, Shabnam acquired the reputation of being an ace designer with a rare gift of creating visual delights for the spaces she designed. Her forte lies in putting together contrasting elements of design – colours, textures, furniture and decor – and balancing them beautifully with a contemporary appeal.

Shabnam is known to conjure up visual wonders. She is recognised for her personally tailored, client specific interiors that use bursts of colours, textures and other unique elements within a contemporary design palette. Her designs are known to exude energy, vibrancy, and spirit in a delicate but subtle way. “Our design philosophy,” she adds, “runs on understanding the client’s needs and wants, after which we translate them into design reality.

If it comes to a point where a client is being unreasonable, we make sure we get real close to what they imagine and start off from there. Most of the time, the outcome is a better depiction of what they imagined. Being innovative is key.”

Today, The Orange Lane not only acts like a design consultant but it also provides complete turnkey design solutions. Across the properties, Gupta makes it a point to adhere to a specific set of rules. She says, “The process (of interior designing) starts off with listening in carefully to what the client needs. We take their vision further with our design sensibilities and in the process experiment with varied materials, design styles and concepts till we find the right balance between both. In the end, every project is a result of client’s love for design – their needs combined with our signature style.”


Design Motto: Shabnam Gupta, the principal designer of interior and architectural design firm ‘The Orange Lane’, believes in creating captivating visual narratives through her designs.

Philosophy: “We try to declutter and retain as much of the original form. You need to be sensitive to what the space demands.”

Favourite Buildings: Geoffrey Bawa’s Heritance Kandalama, and Lunuganga Estate. “Every project of his is a point of inspiration.”

Influences: Geoffrey Bawa, Frank Lloyd Wright, Takashi Sugimoto

Materials: Concrete, stone, wood and metal, in their raw forms.

Star Projects: Celebrity homes include film producer and director Aditya Chopra’s bungalow in Mumbai, Rani Mukherjee, Parineeti Chopra, Irfan Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Raveena Tandon’s residences, film maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Office and so on. Beyond Bollywood, Shabnam has designed art curator and gallery owner Ashish Balram Nagpal’s house in Alibaug, Mumbai’s fine dining restaurant The Sassy Spoon, the office of CNBC TV18 and the Pepperfry Studio to name a few. She has worked for a series of well-known projects in Mumbai that have been noticed and appreciated by a vast spectrum of people. They include Outlets of The Bar Stock Exchange in Mumbai and Bengaluru, Social in Pune, a University in Chandigarh, The Intercontinental Mumbai’s in-house restaurants, game salon SMAAASH, the hip and colorful Bombay Bronx in Cumbala Hill, Mumbai or the vibrant Big Nasty in Khar, Mumbai are two of her many projects.

She firmly believes that “one’s journey in life is a continuous process. It is the journey that matters and not the final destination. Success for different people has different meanings. I am fortunate to be getting the kind of work that gives me the creative freedom and satisfaction to do what I want to do. Personally I do not take these tags seriously at all. I believe that I am a learner and the day I stop learning that will be the end of my creative hunger. More than anything else, the journey so far has taught me to be a calmer person. In our line of work where you have to interact with so many different teams including your own, it teaches you how to handle human relations. Sometimes I joke our job is half of that of a psychiatrist.”


A Naukettu inspired homes making a comeback

Coloured by sepia-toned memories and a strong sense of nostalgia, getting ‘back to our roots’ is in vogue. This heightened longing for the good old days has been instrumental in bringing back many classical architectural styles, and one of them is the nalukettu veedu in Kerala…


NALUKETTU means four blocks and a typical house built in this fashion would be divided into a north, south, east, and west block. The naalukettu was a typical feature of the Kerala tharavadu tradition, where joint families lived together for generations with a patriarch and matriarch overseeing all their affairs. At the centre of the house is a nadumuttam, which is an open courtyard that served as the focal point of interactions between the family as well as various household activities and festivities. The larger and wealthier families had ettukettu or, the rarer, pathinaarukettu houses featured eight and 16 blocks with two and four courtyards respectively. All of these houses were built following the principles of ancient thachu shastra or the science of carpentry and developed during the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when the Nairs and Namboodiris

dominated the society with their power and wealth. These aristocratic families who prided on their lineage and the name of their tharavadu would build extensive naalukettu homes that would feature a grove with a snake mound to facilitate the popular worship of snakes, a basil leaves plant installation made of stone or brick, and even a pond for the exclusive use of the family. Naalukettus can be sprawling, entirely built on the ground floor or can go up to three storeys high.

Typically made of teak wood or the wood from wild jackfruit trees, brick, and mud, these houses had superior ventilation and lighting that kept the house well lit and aerated at all times. A padippura is a distinguishing feature

atop a naalukettu gate consisting of an elaborate, temple-like gopuram. The entrance to the house would have a verandah designed to receive visitors. Inside, the nadumuttam is surrounded by rooms on all sides like the ara, a special room meant to store valuables. Granaries, cattle sheds, kitchen and utility, dining halls, bathrooms, bedrooms, puja rooms, wells and other purpose-built spaces filled all the corners of a naalukettu. Another feature that showcases the technical ingenuity of these complex yet very thoughtful structures is the roof. Gabled windows on the top of all naalukettus ensured cross-ventilation at all times and let in enough light into the attic while extended rafters gave ample protection from the heavy rains that are characteristic to Kerala.


Naalukettus faded into oblivion as socio-cultural changes swept over Kerala. Education gained prominence, and more women began migrating from a life led entirely inside sooty kitchens to the outside world of work and independence. Nuclear families evolved with men and women settling down wherever work took them resulting in the break-up of the joint family system. Soon, naalukettus housed only the elders in the family and the upkeep of such large properties became near impossible. With the demand for elaborate homes dying, architects lost the special skill sets required for building these traditional houses.
Today, only a few of the original naalukettus remain mostly in the form of museums or heritage homestays.
Modern constructions now sport some features of the naalukettu style of architecture like the sloping roof, a small verandah supported by tall pillars, and a mini courtyard in the middle. Used by not only houses but also restaurants, ayurvedic spas and other establishments that are traditional to Kerala, the naalukettu design is now seeing a massive reprise. It is not uncommon to see naalukettu houses for sale in cities and real estate agencies advertising low-cost naalukettu houses to customers. And although not as glorious and rambling as the older naalukettu houses, they are a treat to the eyes.

Building Modern Indian Aesthetics – The Purple Ink Studio

The Purple Ink Studio was started in Bengaluru with the different ideas of two individuals who strongly believed in their respective design concepts which believes in constantly exploring the parameters of design and blurring the boundaries between architecture, landscape and sustainability. The Studio is working on experiments which are based in the present day scenario (as prototypes) which when multiplied, would breed into a series of ‘Eco-cities’, set in the future. These experiments focus on the ‘Kilometer Zero’ concept, which strives to generate locally everything that is necessary for our living…”


O-founded by Akshay Heranjal and Aditi Pai Heranjal, Bengaluru-based The Purple Ink Studio is a young architectural practice which believes in constantly exploring the parameters of design and blurring the boundaries between architecture, landscape and sustainability. The underlying focus of the studio is to integrate architectural theories using hybrid techniques to develop a new breed of regenerative architecture. The Purple Ink Studio is a multidisciplinary practice that believes in an integrated approach to design – which while being complex, stems from an innate focus on regenerative theories and moves beyond digital techniques.
The Purple Ink Studio is a multiple award winning practice which was started in 2011 by Akshay and Aditi, wherein the firm today has evolved as a confluence of two distinct architectural backgrounds – one being extremely rational, aesthetic yet responsive and the other being based on strong responses to nature and inclusion of natural elements in the design. The studio believes in constantly exploring the parameters of design and blurring the boundaries between architecture, landscape, and sustainability to create a contemporary design which resonates with its context.
Akshay Heranjal is the Principal Architect at The Purple Ink Studio. He graduated with honors from BVBCET, Hubli. Training as an apprentice with Ar. Karan Grover in Baroda gave him an opportunity to understand green technologies at close quarters, and gave him adequate exposure to LEED/IGBC certified projects. After the internship, he joined sP+a, a young practice headed by Ar. Sameep Padora, where he stretched his repertoire into core designing. He later worked with Sanjay Puri Architects, and got experience in handling several large scale projects of different magnitudes and typologies. While Ar. Akshay says that architecture happened to him by accident, his years spent working alongside three influential Indian architects (all with very different design philosophies) powerfully influenced him. He adds, “All of them helped me mould myself into what I am today, as a person and as an architect. That also helped shaped the firm’s approach. The work we do stems from diverse contexts that we connect with, which respond to the regional framework and setting. That is just the beginning of the process. There are so many more layers.”
Aditi Pai Heranjal heads the Landscape + Sustainability division at ‘The Purple Ink Studio’. She took her Bachelor’s degree from Gogte Institute of Technology, Belgaum and followed it up with a Masters in Landscape Architecture from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. She trained as an intern with Integrated Design (InDe), Bengaluru headed by Landscape architect, Mohan Rao. She later continued working with him as an Associate Architect and worked on various environmental design projects involving landscape design and sustainability.
Akshay and Aditi’s cumulative educational background and diverse professional experience lends the practice an emphatic edge. “We both very strongly believe in our design concepts” explains Ar. Akshay.

The Purple Ink Studio brings you a contemporary expression of design emerged from the urban context with finesse and poise


“One of us is extremely rational, aesthetic yet responsive while the other is strongly influenced by their responses towards nature and the inclusion of natural elements in the design,” he adds. It is this contrast that adds a unique dimension to each of their projects, he feels. Each of our projects goes through this rigorous process of design development and evolution with very careful consideration of the context and limitations, making each one very special in its own way, they say. Adding value to the practice is

Associate Architect Nishita Bhatia, and a young, enthusiastic team comprising architects, interior designers and allied professionals! The constant effort to engage in ‘regenerative architecture’ focused on conservation and performance through a conscious reduction of the environmental impacts of a built structure, kindles their commitment to sustainability. The studio is working on prototypes which when multiplied, would breed into a series of ‘Eco-cities’ set in the future.


These experiments focus on the ‘Kilometer Zero’ concept, which strives to generate locally everything that is necessary for living.
The design team works closely on each program. Every site that is selected for their projects hold a strong theoretical context. In addition to this, the firm believes in developing an integrated approach which is complex, progressive and constantly engaging in the practices of ‘Regenerative Architecture’. Through its body of work, the studio is focusing on the ‘Kilometer Zero’ concept that is necessary for its existence. These experiments which are based in the present day scenario would work as a prototype which when multiplied would give rise to a series of ‘Eco-cities’ set in the future. Since its inception in 2011, The Purple Ink Studio has won 4 International Awards, 3 Indian Awards and has also been nominated for 5 Indian Awards thereby earning themselves tremendous recognition in the field of Architecture and Design.
Living by the maxim – “The will to live differently needs to start somewhere. There is a constant need to re-look at growth that affects the social and regional patterns of a city.

It is imperative to look at strategies that help us use less and produce more. It’s crucial to be Sustainable by Design…. by Life!” – The Purple Ink Studio has spread its presence across varied project typologies, in the four major verticals – Architecture, Interiors, Landscape and Sustainability.
From the refurbishment of a single-screen theatre in Rajkot, Gujarat to a luxury apartment for a Dubai-based businessman; from a school in Hubli to a spa in Bengaluru the practice reinvents its ideology wonderfully well, across diverse projects – to suit the context and brief!
Akshay provides insight on the opportunities and obstacles that come with starting your own firm and reveals how he resolved the trepidations that comes along with establishing your own practice. He says, “I personally believe that there is no specific time for starting your own practice, but what does matter is the experience and understanding that you can derive from your mentors while working under them. I believe I was privileged to have worked with three different architecture masters or ‘gurus’ – Karan Grover, Sameep Padora and Sanjay Puri;

all of whom have moulded the design aesthetics and the ideologies that I hold today.”
The Studio won the most coveted ‘Best Practice in India of 2016’ award from TRENDS EXCELLENCE AWARDS for Architecture & Design and have also been listed in the PERSPECTIVE 40under40 ASIA and as the Top 50 Next Gen Architects who will shape India, amongst other numerous National & International Honors.
To conclude, Akshay adds, “To do well, it is important to be rigorous when you are learning. Do not look at your current workspace as just a stepping stone for when you start your own practice. Do not work through it superficially. Invest in your workspace. You need to gather enough knowledge and experience before you can start on your own. Devote all your time and energy into learning and grasping as much as you can about design strategies and running a practice because as the principal architect of a new firm, you will have to undertake every role and responsibility necessary for managing your practice.”


ABOUT DESIGN: Axis Vanam is designed as an exclusive apartment that connects with greens at every level. Each apartment has an extended private garden blurring the line between the outdoor and indoors. The community living is enriched by including the productive greens at the ground floors that encourages residents to growing they own food and imbibe a lifestyle much closer to nature.


ABOUT DESIGN: ABOUT DESIGN: The modest space of 650 sqft is celebrated with an accentuated idea of the arched windows with drapery of the by-gone era which is represented in the most quintessential form, the “Arch”. The strong geometry of an arch articulated in a modern dialog creates the setting for a dramatically themed display. The challenge however was to utilize the space to its full potential in terms of the exhibits. The design was hence planned to juxtapose the elements on display with the interior layout making it a seamless.

ABOUT DESIGN: An integrated design approach was followed to evaluate and maximize the energy reductions of the building. Solar studies and simulations were used to generate data regarding daylighting, shadow analysis, rainfall pattern and shading systems. These studies, along with lighting analysis, were critical to generate the load calculations and sizing and selection of all the Mechanical Systems.