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September 6, 2017

Announcing our new website

Leading Design Architecture Studio is pleased to announce the launch of our new website. You can now find us at www.leadingdesign.in

I also take this opportunity to announce that this blog will be continued on http://www.leadingdesign.in/blog address. 

Thanking you all for the continued support.

We invite you to explore our new website, where you can check out a portfolio of our selected works, learn about our firm, update on our news and career opportunities, and link to our other social media portals. If you like to receive additional information about us or discuss how we can help you or your project and for any questions, suggestions, feedback or comments, please e mail us.
We take this time to thank all our clients who had given us the opportunity and support to design the projects on display and the continuing support of well wishers.
We hope you enjoy exploring our new website!

February 14, 2016

The purpose of Art

....... is to inform and delight.

When we think about art (and art in its plurality), there are only a few artists who have serious impact in everyday life. Milton Glaser is one among them.

He is one of the most celebrated graphic designers in the United States. His work is easy to spot in a lineup -- it's simple, direct and clear, while leaping over conceptual boundaries, so that his work connects directly to the viewer like a happy virus. His best-known work may be the I [heart] N Y logo -- an image so ubiquitous, it's hard to believe there was a time when it didn't exist.

All through his career, he didn’t trust styles and was clearly against the institutionalization of design.

July 18, 2015

TRAVEL: Seagram Building, New York

Seagram Building (1954-58)
Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Location: 375 Park Avenue, New York City

"Take the beautiful tower made of bronze that was erected in New York. It is a bronze lady, incomparable in beauty, but you know she has corsets for fifteen stories because the wind bracing is not seen. That which makes it an object against the wind which can be beautifully expressed, just like nature expresses the difference between the moss and the reed. The base of the building should be wider than the top, and the columns which are on top dancing like fairies, and the columns below growing like mad, dont have the same dimensions because they are not the same thing. This story if told from realization of form would make a tower more expressive of the forces. Even if it begins in its first attempts in design to be ugly it would be led to beauty by the statement of the form."

Louis Kahn
Original text from "Voice of america - Louis Kahn. Recorded November 19, 1960"

June 27, 2015

The power of an idea

Nothing is as exciting as an idea.

The power of an idea is the driving force for many design professionals. The contemporary architectural scene is shifting more towards idea-centric designs from the popular form-centric ones. 
But not everyday that you will witness a barrage of ideas..!

It was during mid May that I got a chance to visit the exhibition HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation featuring the recent works by BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group in the Great Hall inside Washington DC's National Building Museum. 

"I had taught myself that my work had to be fresh, different, seemingly outrageous. From then on, I understood that nothing is as exciting as an idea."  George Lois

The Hot to Cold exhibition gives a comprehensive overview of their recent work across the globe, ranging from the hottest to the coldest climates and hosts 60 models of conceptual and completed buildings, for BIG's first ever exhibition in North America. Criticised by many as utopian, the firm's works bring forward an alternate way of thinking. Each idea seed presented has the potential to grow up and flower on its own; not necessarily in the particular project.

August 11, 2014

The brave act.

Take a while, and think for a minute. All the important decisions you took in your life;

Football team

Do you regret about any decisions? Do you regret of not being brave enough to take the right decision instead of the easy one?

If you are given a chance to redo all, will you be doing the same again? You may be able to retrieve the lost opportunities, build up the lost relationships, avoid dead ends, start doing what u love and are still passionate about...

Now, fast forward to 20 years ahead.

What are we doing now to not regret then?
Are we taking right and brave decisions or are we flowing with the tide avoiding hard act?

June 6, 2014

Golden Temple Entrance Plaza project

A visit to the holiest Sikh shrine in the world will not be the same again. The experience will be enriched by the much awaited entrance plaza which is about to get completed. 

The entrance plaza is a befitting solution to the urban chaos existed at the entrance which attracts over 1 lakh visitors on the week days alone.

An international design competition was called for by Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board to redesign the entrance plaza of Golden Temple in Amritsar. Entries poured in from all over the world and after much deliberation, Punjab Government selected the design by Delhi based Architectural firm, Design Associates Inc., and rightly so.

The design proposal aims to address the shortcomings of the current structure whilst creating an urban focus. The architect explains the salient features of the proposal:

December 4, 2013

Astronaut Pens: Not every solution is simple

"During the space race back in the 1960's, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA went to work. At a cost of $1.5 million they developed the "Astronaut Pen". Some of you may remember. It enjoyed minor success on the commercial market.

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a pencil."

Fantastic story, right? Except that's not what happened. NASA originally used pencils in space but pencils tend to give off things that float in zero-g (broken leads, graphite dust, shavings) and are flammable. So they looked for another solution. Independent of NASA, the Fisher Pen Company began development of a pen that could be used under extreme conditions and they succeded.
As architects, we always try to emphasise the importance of simplifying our design solutions. Simplicity has its own advantages. But not every situation deserves a simple solution. 

September 14, 2013

10 Things that a creative professional should never tell a client

I was tempted to have the title as '10 Things that an architect should never tell a client'.! Not always that you happen to read an article on a different profession and wonder how aptly it describes yours. 

Couldn't resist sharing the article titled '10 Things that a photographer should never tell a client' on the December 2012 edition of Better Photography magazine, because each line was relevant to architecture profession as well. Just exchange the specifics and see how it starts making sense.!

August 2, 2013

Are you replaceable

   as an architect?

   as an employee?

   as an artist?

   as an employer?

   as a manager?

   as a mother?

   as a husband?

If so, most likely you will get replaced in near future (maybe except for the personal relationships.!!). And you have no right to complain!

For a client an architect may not only be the designer; but also a mentor, friend, technical and financial adviser, negotiator, innovator, artist and also one who care to share the journey. Her role becomes irreplaceable once client find real value other than the mundane details. Though design quality is still the single most differentiator, it is unfortunate that more often, client may not be equipped to fairly judge the quality of design alone.


April 18, 2013

What we forget when we design for public

Designing for public is always a challenge.

Be it a railway station, a cashier desk in a bank, a scooter parking area, a public library, a round-about in a busy street, or a pub, we cannot judge the design until it is used by the intended users for a specific period of time. Its very easy for designers to get carried away by the opportunity of creating something which is noticed by a large spectrum of users. We often try to "design" it such that it stands out and calls for attention.

Seth Godin observes the process of designing public interfaces in general in his blog.

First, do no harm--three rules for public interfaces

When we think of design, we usually imagine things that are chosen because they are designed. Vases or comic books or architecture...
It turns out, though, that most of what we make or design is actually aimed at a public that is there for something else. The design is important, but the design is not the point. Call it "public design"...
Public design is for individuals who have to fill out our tax form, interact with our website or check into our hotel room despite the way it's designed, not because of it.

March 29, 2013

Lulu Mall, Cochin: World of more happiness?

Surprisingly, it was 'nostalgic' for one of my NRI friend to check in to the Lulu hyper market in the recently opened Lulu shopping mall. This was the first time I heard about the feeling in a reverse situation!

Touted as the largest shopping mall in India, it stores enough of surprises and indulgences for one of the most consumerist society in the country.

Our studio was very much excited about the event not only because of the sheer chance to experience the mega mall, but because of the opening of the Mantra boutique showroom inside the mall, which was designed by us.

The mall was opened to public with much fanfare on 10th of March.

January 20, 2013

Client is always right

well, in almost all cases..!

Client is right even though he is wrong...

At one point of time every design professional realize that arguing with a client is not the way to prove a point. You may win over logic, but most of the times client will not take the advice. The case stands strong when the client in question has a very strong ego.

The subjective issues gets harder to get convinced as the fine line between logic and aesthetics mostly is a matter of better taste.

History teaches us that there is no any constant right. An absolute right today can be (and most surely) be wrong tomorrow. Your right choices are way different from the ones made a hundred years ago. A right choice in one geographic area/social fabric may not be right in another; examples galore. The glass boxes may be the right choice in a cold climate but can bring disastrous results in a hotter climate if not thoughtfully detailed. Similar is the case with different movements in art and architecture followed blindly during its times.

December 14, 2012

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012: Art vs Containing space

Planned on the lines of  Venice Biennale, Kochi-Muziris Biennale has started in Cochin with much fanfare on 12-12-12. The Biennale being a first of its kind event in India, was expected to offer unparalleled and  novel experience for both art lovers and connoisseurs.

Apart from the love for art, I had a great interest in the event primarily because of the context of its settings. Most of the installations are in and around Fortcochin and Mattancherry except for Durbar Hall. The raw power of the spaces itself provides artists enough challenge to match with the tension it creates. The spaces are magnificent and overwhelming, to say the least. It was a joyful act to watch the internationally acclaimed artists expressing themselves and claiming the attention it deserves. Some of the artists, like Sun Xun from China, left a very strong impact with their work. They constantly challenged our notions of art.


December 11, 2012

Be a Connoisseur

Masters of any art form has been invariably connoisseurs of their field.

A connoisseur is defined by dictionary as a person with special knowledge or appreciation of a field, esp in the arts.

You can find many analogies for the observation. Take the field of music, photography, fine art, motion pictures or wine tasting for that matter.

Being a connoisseur automatically equip the creator to critically judge her work during the process itself. She thus knows where the work stands in comparison to the works of masters and most importantly, under varying contexts. She can appreciate the subtleties without getting carried away.


A connoisseur in the field of architecture need not be a great architect. But without failing, all great architects are famously connoisseurs of their craft. They could easily differentiate between a quality space and a merely ‘wrapped space’ with perfect aplomb. They will be fast in acknowledging an original work. Moreover, they rarely need a critic to judge their own creations and strive for authentic, remarkable works all through their careers. 

November 22, 2012

The Sydney Opera House: Classic case history of failure of design competition?

Google in 'Sydney' and you will find Sydney opera house as one of the first image results.

Its not uncommon that a city gets synonymous with its architectural icon. One cannot undermine the importance of such an icon on the urban fabric.

Sydney Opera House is the result of a design competition.

Design competitions are always exciting.

It shows how a similar brief gets varied responses from talented designers. It also give chances for the newcomers(except when they prefer to invite!). But most importantly, invariably, we expect something remarkable to get built, which makes it real exciting.

[Design for NAMOC Museum by selected architects which include Zaha, Gehry, Safdie, OMA, UNStudio]

The post "Are you in the wrapper business?" worries about architecture community giving more merit and importance to wrappers than its content. Not many competitions end up in disappointments though. But there are cases which, if observed closely can give valuable lessons for future.


Lets hear about this from an engineer (one of the most prolific in that!). In his classic 'The Evolution of Useful things', Henry Petroski takes the case of the architectural icon.

October 29, 2012

Are you in the wrapper business?

We all are familiar with wrappers. It comes in all forms.

There is a chance that you recognize a product mostly by the wrapping. You may want to disagree. But, honestly, many a time you buy the wrapper and not the product.

You paid Rs 300 for the music CD that you bought last week. Now, it is very unlikely that you will pay that amount to just few songs once the labeled CD and its beautiful cover is removed. You may still take the music, but you may not buy it.

You are most likely to open and read through a document arrived on your desk in a FedEx envelop than one received through mail though the content could be perfectly conveyed through a mail. A FedEx envelope has made the document look more important.

Surely, the wrapping has done the difference.


October 19, 2012

Revisiting Le Corbusier’s MOA building

World has just celebrated 125th birthday of one of the most influential architect of the 20th century, Le Corbusier. This reminded me of my visit to the much famous Millowner's Association Building in Ahmedabad a few years back.

There are few cities in the world that can claim more than three buildings by Le Corbusier, and Ahmedabad is one of them(after Paris, Chandigarh and La Chaux-de-Fonds), with the Museum, the Millowners Association Building, and the Sarabhai and Shodhan houses to its credit. Such major commissions, all initiated during Le Corbusier’s first visit to the city, attest to Ahmedabad’s intellectual climate and economic prosperity unrivalled in India for a city of its size.

A comparative visual study by Peter Serenyi, comparing the Hall of Public Audiences, Red Fort and the Assembly building, Chandigarh hinting on the inspirations of the architect for his public buildings.

Since its founding by Sultan Ahmed, Shah of Gujrat in 1411 AD, Ahmedabad had been a city of commerce and industry centred around textiles. Long before the advent of modern era, the leading citizens of Ahmedabad were businessmen rather than landowner’s or men in the service of a court. This enabled the Ahmedabadis to take up the British on their own terms, and offer them stiff competition by mechanising the city’s textile industry. The close knit group of Jain families who have valued cooperation rather than competition  among themselves were the back bone of the textile industry there. Surottam Hutheesing, nephew of Mr Lalbhai- one of the prominent among these mill owners was responsible for commissioning Corbusier to build the association’s new headquarters.


October 7, 2012

Automation: Designing for a smarter world?

Are we getting more and more addicted towards technology? Are our daily chores getting more and more automated? 

"Three scenarios likely to be possible in the future:

  • "No," says the refrigerator. "Not eggs again. Not until your weight comes down, and your cholesterol levels are lower. Scale tells me you still have to lose about five pounds, and the clinic keeps pinging me about your cholesterol. This is  for your own good, you know."
  • "I just checked your appointments diary in your smart phone," says the automobile as you get into the car after a day's work. "You have free time, so I've programmed that scenic route with those curves you like so much instead of the highway - I know you'll enjoy driving it. Oh, and I've picked your favorite music to go with it."
  • "Hey," says your house one morning as you prepare to leave. "What's the rush? I took out the garbage. Won't you even say thank you? And can we talk about that nice new controller I've been showing you picture of? It would make me much more efficient, and you know, the Jones's house already has one."
[source: NTU Intelligent Robot & Automation Lab (EN/TW)]

Do you trust your house to know what is best for you? Do you want the kitchen to talk to your bathroom scale, or perhaps to have your toilet to run an automatic urinalysis, sharing the results with your medical clinic? And how, anyway, would the kitchen really know what you are eating/ How would the kitchen know that the butter, eggs, and cream taken out of the refrigerator were for you, rather than for some other member of the household, or for a visitor, or maybe even for a school project?"


September 18, 2012

‘Komet’: Kochi Metro- Chance for world class rapid rail stations

Prime minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the Kochi Metro rail project (aptly abbreviated as ‘KOMET’) a few days back. 

Dr. Singh said the Central support for the 25-km Kochi project, estimated at Rs. 5,180 crore, would be around Rs. 1,000 crore. Kochi would be the eighth city in India to have a Metro network.

As an architect, I am more interested in the built spaces for the project than its ubiquitous political controversies. Here is a chance for Kochi to build world class rapid rail stations, as is the case with many recent metros of similar class and scale.


I have been fortunate to be a part of the team [Mott MacDonald  and Mackellar Architecture (U.K)] who designed the much famed underground stations of Delhi Metro including Connaught Place, New Delhi, Old Delhi, Central Secrateriat, Patel Chowk etc. and to further explore the design considerations for Rapid Rail stations as part of my Masters’ Thesis from IIT Roorkee. Since the building typology is a bit unfamiliar to many, I thought to share a few experiences of mine. (Believe me, I cannot do justice with a post since this is as complex a topic for even a Post Graduate thesis. See! J )

September 10, 2012

Ornamentation vs Intensification

I presuppose that what I am going to say is known to all of my fellow professionals (read 'architects'). But since I constantly meet with the necessity of explaining the same to students as well as many of my team members, I thought it will be useful to write about it.

Arriving at details and detail patterns for a particular project is very rewarding as the whole design itself. One should always understand the reason behind each detail - whether it is appropriate, aesthetically pleasing, easy to build or needed at all. Most of the time, designers seem to be caught in a dilemma of using ‘ornamental’ patterns. Many find it pleasing to eye and many discard it as superfluous and surface deep.

The real problem is when one doesn’t understand the difference between ‘ornamentation’ and ‘intensification’ or confuse between the two and take decisions.