Synergy of Nature and Architecture
Interview with Sanjay Puri, an architect whose project "The Forest" made it to the shortlist of The Futureglass Prize.
Sanjay Puri is an architect renowned for his bold architecture and holistic approach, considering every detail in his project – local materials, climate, geography, and cultural peculiarities. Archdaily recognizes him as one of the 100 most influential contemporary architects, with dozens of architectural awards in his portfolio.
His project, "The Forest," made it to the shortlist of the special award, The Futureglass Prize, initiated this year by Aestech in collaboration with the World Architecture Festival. It's a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the project and the architect's relationship with glass, which is an integral part of his architecture.
Tell us about yourself. How did your journey in architecture begin?
I became interested in architecture after reading Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." That book was my first introduction to architecture. Before that, I wanted to become an artist.
Tell us the story of your project. Where did the idea come from? What inspired you?
Firstly, the local laws regarding the area determined the shape; otherwise, it would have exceeded the permissible area of the plot by nine times. We placed the facade with greenery on the south side to help regulate the building's temperature and add privacy from the buildings across.
All office spaces face north and northwest. This way, we minimized heat intake and ensured each office had a view of the Congo River. The curved shape and the use of a large amount of glass helped us bring the building as close to nature as possible.
This project was inspired by the African forest, so we aimed to create a form resembling a tree. Parabolic balconies, shaping the facade, help us achieve this. Thanks to the multi-level design, we merged open and closed spaces.
What is the role of glass in your project?
Glass plays two important roles. On one hand, it's a transparent envelope that connects the office space with nature. We also aimed for each space to have its own piece of nature and a view of the Congo.
Is using this much glass energy-efficient?
Energy efficiency is achieved through design. Open and closed external decks shield excessive heat while still providing a source of natural light.
What are the key advantages and challenges of working with glass?
The key advantages of working with glass are the interaction with space and ample natural light. It allows people to enjoy the landscape views. The only drawback is increased heat, but modern solutions can mitigate this issue.
Do you believe there's a compromise between aesthetics and practicality? What do you find more important?
Both are crucial, so there should be a certain compromise. However, I lean slightly towards practicality.
What modern technologies would you like to implement in your future projects?
Glass with transparent solar panels that generate energy. Also, glass that is capable of dimming or brightening as needed, for a more gentle and comfortable illumination.
Name three favorite materials. Why did you choose them?
1. Glass, as it interacts beautifully with space.
2. Cob and bamboo because they are durable materials.
3. Lime plaster, which has an organic composition and reduces heat intake.
Share your top three favorite projects.
1. The Norddeutsche Bank Hannover by Behnisch &Behnisch.
2. The Cinema Complex, Dresden by Coop Himmelblau
3. The Sveti Stefan Aman Hotel by Denniston Architects
Can one building make a city better?
Absolutely, think about the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. One building had a colossal impact on the city's economy and made it globally renowned.
What should modern architecture discard to become the architecture of the future?
It should become more sustainable, reducing the number of resources used and employing more natural or eco-friendly materials.
What advice would you give to young architects?
The most important thing is your knowledge and willingness to learn, to be able to engage with aesthetic architecture and to gain practical skills.