Architect Dikshu C. Kukreja tells us about the project that was a turning point in his career
Architect and urban designer Dikshu C. Kukreja, the son of CP Kukreja, one of India’s best-known architects, knew that he wanted to be an architect as a young boy. Although he’s realised a number of architectural projects, he tells us that the kind of projects he really enjoys are those that have a direct impact on people’s lives.
What's your earliest memory of wanting to become an architect?
As a four-five year old, I remember visiting monuments for family picnics and not even fairs fascinated me as much as these buildings. After my grade-12 exams, I remember applying to School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi and CEPT, Ahmedabad as well as Chandigarh College of Architecture. I got through all of them.
All these years later, what kind of projects excite you the most?
The ones that have a direct impact on society and influence the way people live and think such as institutes of learning and research, university campuses as well as healthcare and medi-cities.
The project you consider the turning point in your career?
The Gautam Buddha University in Greater Noida. It was fascinating to translate the historic and religious nature of the iconic Gautam Buddha into a 21st-century academic campus. Plus, the scale of the project—75,00,000 sq-ft—and the speed with which we completed it—three years—was monumental. We produced 20,000 drawings for this award-winning project, which is acknowledged as one of the best university campuses in the world.
And the most challenging?
It would have to be the Delhi Metro. This was in the late 1990s and we were the only Indian practice to work on the underground metro.
One structure you wish you'd designed?
Fatehpur Sikri—it’s not just a remarkable work of architecture but also of urban design.
How would close friends describe you?
The first thing you do, when you start your workday?
Spend time in the architectural studio, where we brainstorm, innovate and conceptualise projects.
During a project, what part do you enjoy the most?
The initial conceptualising of the project; the excitement of working with a blank canvas.
In your opinion, the best-planned city in the world is...
The site of Harappa in the Indus Valley Civilization. They achieved such advanced town plans, octagonal roads, distinct land usage, etc, and that too almost 4,000 years ago.
Your pet peeve is...
Lack of awareness and sensitivity towards architecture. Indians, in particular, don’t value the built environment, especially the historical monuments, around them.