CP Kukreja Architects / Managing Principal
Harvard-educated Dikshu C. Kukreja is the Managing Principal of CP Kukreja Architects, one of the world’s largest architecture and urban design firms and ranked amongst the top 100 design firms in the world. Dikshu Kukreja is a noted expert on urban and environmental issues and has worked as an advisor with state and national authorities on various issues. He has been selected as the ‘Young Icon of the Decade’, ‘Best Citizen of India’, ‘Face of 21st Century Architecture in India’, and featured in ‘Who’s Who of Asia’. Most recently, Kukreja was seen on ‘Tale of Two Cities’, a revolutionary talk show on WION, where he brings conversations around cities and urbanisation to the mainstream.
Tell us about your definition of a good design?
A good design is a responsible design – one that responds to the context and meets the user’s functional requirements. With its design, a building should respond to the local climate conditions, cultures, and geographical setting. With the challenges of urbanisation and the looming threat of climate change, our buildings also need to be designed sustainably. It should be an interdisciplinary approach that creates holistic solutions by integrating architecture and engineering to build ecologically responsible cities.
Tell us a little about your background. How did you develop a passion for design?
Architecture and design have been a part of my subconscious since childhood. After pursuing my Bachelors in Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, I went to Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in the US. My passion for making a difference in the built environment through design led me to pursue a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard University. Once I had gathered substantial experience in the US, I returned to my country (India) to join my father’s practice, C.P. Kukreja Architects in New Delhi, where we continue to work towards a better built environment.
What is your own guiding design principle?
When I begin work on a project with my team, we observe the physical, cultural and social adjacencies of the site. The learnings from this are used to challenge the brief to create ingenious design solutions that not only directly address the brief but go above and beyond to also respond to the immediate context. We proudly say that we are ‘A Global Design Practice That Celebrates Local Context’. We recognise the value and wisdom of vernacular design principles and derive from them to use passive design techniques to create comfortable indoor environments. Additionally, by using cutting edge tools and technology, we optimise our designs for high performance and minimal environmental impact.
How do you feel design has evolved over the past years and how do you see it evolving in the future?
Design has progressed exponentially over the past few years. From a very manually driven design and construction industry, we have moved to embrace new age materials, technologies and processes. With the arrival of technologies like BIM and AI in design, a whole new dimension has emerged, which will change the face of the design industry in unprecedented ways.
What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your career/industry now?
We believe that projects that cater to the larger masses are the biggest opportunities and challenges at the moment. Some projects that involve multiple stakeholders become challenging because of their distinct working mechanisms. In such projects, the design becomes compromised if stakeholders weigh their own financial interests. But, we see these limitations as opportunities and innovate new solutions to find a middle ground that does not compromise the design’s quality.
In terms of opportunities in the field, there is a greater understanding and awareness of new ideas among clients. The kind of response that we are receiving towards architecture and design from society, at large, is much more welcoming than ever Before.
How do you decide to take on certain projects?
Our practice, C P Kukreja Architects, has undertaken projects of different typologies like industrial, hospitality, healthcare, institutional, convention centres, sports arenas, transport hubs,etc. In addition to these, we also undertake large scale urban design and planning projects. No matter the typology, we approach each new project by creating user and context specific designs that bind the requirements and aspirations together. The functionality and use of a building are at the centre of our design approach. We believe that creating architecture is an act of great responsibility, where one’s design affects many lives, besides the natural environment and cultural context of the building’s setting.
If you were to offer a designer a piece of advice to succeed in the industry today what would you tell them?
I believe that any designer is only successful if they understand their responsibilities. Therefore, my advice to any architect or designer is to recognise their profound responsibility towards people and the environment. The only measure of success in these times is to be able to contribute positively to our collective urban futures.
What are you working on, what is in the pipeline for you for 2023?
We are working on some really exciting projects at this time. Our team is working on the prestigious India International Convention and Exhibition Centre (IICC) in New Delhi, in collaboration with IDOM, Spain. The convention centre will be hosting international conferences, exhibitions and trade shows and is also set to be one of the venues during the G20 summit this year in India.
We have also recently finished our work on the feasibility studies for the master planning of Ayodhya, a revered spiritual city in the country. Additionally, we are also engaged with the Ministry of Defence, Government of India for the Thal Sena Bhawan, which will be the Indian Army Headquarters in New Delhi. It is being built at the scale of The Pentagon in the US. The upcoming East Delhi Hub, which our team is working on in collaboration with IDOM, Spain, will be India’s first and largest transit oriented development projects.
Besides this, we are also working on international projects in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Kenya.