Video: Top Tips For Architects Working In India

Published on: 26-01-2015

Archiboo’s second talk for Architects on ‘working internationally’ focuses on India, with James Soane (Project Orange) and Malcolm Cohen (UKTI) giving their ‘top tips to approaching the Indian market and surviving‘.

Archiboo - Working in India

Amanda Baillieu, founder of Archiboo, adds commentary below the video of the recent Archiboo talk which offers an amazing insight for Architecture Practices planning on working in India.

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India: A land of extreme contrasts.

James co-founded Project Orange with Christopher Ashe in 1997. The practice has 10 years experience of working in India, tapping into India’s growing appetite for boutique hotels and restaurants that blend traditional solutions with modern techniques.

India’s young demographic – it has 105m people between the ages of 19 and 25 – is driving a fresh wave of development in India’s second tier cities, explained James Soane.

But as James was quick to point out, being successful means offering a different service than to a UK client.

This is partly because architectural education in India is engineering – led and focused on problem solving, so someone with design flair is valued -and that’s what you need to sell.

“Don’t worry about certain aspects of construction, like drawing up a Heath & Safety plan – they’re after your design”

Knowing how to present your ideas is another skills Indian architects lack and therefore another string to your bow.

“Presentation skills are key …and people who’ve trained in the UK have a very useful tool kit”

But having secured a job, how do you go about making sure the project is built the way you designed it?

Some of it is down to face-to-face decisions with your client and the other consultants- which can be very quick.

“The M&E strategy for an entire project was agreed in four hours, something which would have taken a years worth of meetings here”

But you need to be realistic.

While there are many different craft skills an architect can draw on, complicated details often come unstuck- literally in some cases- and “ painting something white” is often the most reliable finish because it will always be re-painted the following year.

There are many myths and clichés about India and it “leverages itself as a romantic fairytale vision of the world”, said James.

“But it’s also a land of extreme contrasts and for architects who want to work there, the most important lesson of all is to understand the people and how you fit in”.

Archiboo was founded by Amanda Baillieu in 2014, and is supported by Adrem and Caro Communications.