Harish Gupta in conversation with Pallavi Paul.
A Q&A with Harish Gupta, architectural intern at Aishwarya Tipnis Architects.
This week we are looking to raise awareness of the different ways into a professional practice with an aim to become a more inclusive profession. An architectural internship combines academic learning at university with practical experience gained from work, which helps the student to have an all rounded qualification.
Harish Gupta joined us six months ago as an intern. We asked him about life as an intern at Studio ATA, and how he juggles work and study.
Tell us about your decision to do an internship at a boutique studio instead of the traditional large scale architectural firm.
I decided to pick a firm for my internship, which was doing different kind of work instead of a traditional architectural firm. In college, due to the lack of exposure about a branch of sustainable architecture I wanted to learn more. I have always been fascinated by the context, character, identity, the history of a place or a city and how its historic relevance has impacted the cities and its structure today. I wanted to learn about the old structures, older construction methods and materials which aren’t regularly seen or used in traditional architectural firms.
What is the most exciting project you have worked on so far?
Since starting at Studio ATA six months ago, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of interesting projects. All the projects for me have been new, challenging but yet very inspiring as well. The most exciting project for me has been the restoration & adaptive reuse for one of the oldest residential schools of India.This is a mixed-used educational building project in the foothills of the Himalayas. I personally loved working on this project because I got to visit, study and engage with the site at least three times, I even played in the snow for the first time in my life. It being one of the oldest schools and still to be functioning I got to experience the different types of spaces required for the school and how the school functions. I got an opportunity to be involved in the design decision workshop & meeting the decision makers to be introduced to a design process of a professional architectural practice.
Did you face any challenges while implementing the theoretical knowledge into a practical scenario?
In regards to the theoretical knowledge, in a studio practice I got to connect with the actual market, various vendors and consultants involved in the architectural building process. This gave me information on the materials, system and technologies we are using and their value. The market experience exposed me to what all is new and what are the alternative to some of the more inaccessible materials we are familiar to be using in traditional building technology.
What was your perception of the Studio culture?
Before starting the internship i was a little apprehensive of the work environment at a professional firm and i wasn’t sure if i would survive the six months of internship. But, the studio culture and the work vibe at Studio ATA is very chill. The studio has an open environment where everyone gets to interact with everyone there is no seniority or hierarchy, everyone is very helpful and collaborative. I never felt stressed at work even though we sometimes had very tight deadlines, it was always entertaining and fun to work with everyone in the studio. I will definitely miss working with everyone in the studio.
What are your take away from working at Studio ATA?
The last six months have been an adventurous ride, I was one of the lucky few of my batch to have had exposure to site work and not just desk work. My peers were very jealous that I was traveling from one weather, one landscape to another. I enjoyed the snow and eating my heart out at the food street of Old Delhi. I now know how to work on a site and what all is required before you start designing, by learning under the supervision of the seniors at the firm. One of the vital lessons I have learned is to follow a stepped methodology to achieve creative solutions. I am glad I got a chance to learn how to work in details, and the importance of detail oriented design for a good space. The last few weeks of the internship which came at the time of the Lockdown, I have learned the importance of time organization & work planning. I am now able to do productive work from home due to a good work plan which has helped me increase my speed and has increased the focus on my work.
Do you have any tips for people who are considering an internship at a conservation architectural firm?
I would recommend the internship to anyone but one has to be very hard working, there is a lot of site work involved that one has to take in consideration. In working with old building or structures one cannot assume any details. I found myself constantly struggling with what I learned in college to what the real situation was. I must say I learned more about timber joinery and windows at the firm than I did in sitting in class. My lessons learned would be to manage your time efficiently as the deadlines for work and very different from university deadlines. It is important to have honesty, dedication and clarity towards your task in hand. Working a 9-5 job can be stressful so it was wonderful that I was able to maintain a balance and have some time over the weekends to unwind!