“Architecture is not so much a knowledge of form, but a form of knowledge.” – Bernard Tschumi

All the professions involving art look for inspiration to meliorate their craft and shape their projects. Leaning is a continuous process, and the easiest way to learn is to learn from others. In a world evolving as fast as ours, one must always look out to see opportunities to polish their skills and grow in their career. The mind of an architecture student should work like a sponge that soaks all the knowledge. They have to assimilate the process of a project and the current style of working. The things they learn, during their internship, as a part of their curriculum is only the tip of the iceberg. 

In that case, how could a student learn more about the working field? Well, our standard solution for all problems-internet. In the technological age such as now, everything can be found on the ‘World Wide Web’ The best way to learn would be to look at the portfolios of successful firms that are making splashes in the field. 

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The brochure of a firm depicts the character and the core ideas of the firm itself.©https://www.creativeswall.com

Below are 10 Architectural firms that have an impressive portfolio backed by years of incredible work:

1. Biome Environmental Solutions

Biome Environmental Solutions, calling Bangalore their home, was formed in 2004 by Architect Chitra Vishwanath. Her love of nature and the zeal to propel architecture in the environment-friendly direction are the core principles of the firm. In the past couple of decades, she has built a name for herself (quite literally). 

The firm’s cornerstones are conservation, ecological principles, integrating clean water, energy, and land-use thinking through their architectural practice. All their projects reflect this thought process and ethos, inspiring people to follow in their footsteps. Their rich collection of exposed mud houses using salvaged materials and design ideologies that resulted in a lower carbon footprint has revolutionised the face of Bangalore’s architecture. 

They envision creating projects that carry a story that would outlive every generation that experiences the spaces. Integrating the client’s vision of aesthetics, functionality, and budget in a project coupled with sustainability and ecological ideas has been part of their design process since inception. Applying vernacular elements such as jaalis and courtyard planning, they have constructed an array of climate-responsive buildings with ample natural lighting and ventilation.  

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Beautifully blending with the context, all of biome’s buildings reflect their idea of being one with nature. ©https://www.biome-solutions.com
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Artfully designed aesthetic elements double up as services adding an intangible value to the building._©httpswww.biome-solutions.comproject
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With a diverse project portfolio, one could learn and experience a lot from their projects._©httpswww.biome-solutions.comproject

2. Sangath-Vastu Shilpa Consultants

Vastu Shilpa Consultants is the brainchild of Pritzker prize laureate Balakrishna Doshi. It aims at designing buildings that revolve around climate, site, technique, and craft. All their buildings reflect a deep understanding of the site and designed to appreciate and enhance the context. Found in 1955, the name of the firm was coined from a Sanskrit word that translates ‘Art of Built Environment’. 

For a person who is passionate about architecture and intends to learn, this firm’s brochure is literal gold. The main man himself speaks about the practices and nuances of architecture as soon as one enters their website. In their run of almost seven decades, they have constructed some of the most influential buildings. Leading the way in design, VSA have been torchbearers in post-independent India. A plethora of their buildings depicts their legacy such that these buildings have been considered contemporary heritage. One of the pillars of this firm is their urge-

 “to create buildings that do not look like buildings.” Always curious and living in paradox, in their illustrious career, the firm boasts an incredible brochure.

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Though VSC has built multiple typologies, they have time and again shown their excellence in institutional buildings._©httpswww.sangath
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The place of education serving as a teacher is a novel idea. In case of CEPT, a student can learn whole lot of important design ideologies. _©httpswww.sangath.orgprojectsschool-of-a
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The buildings designed by VSC has always depicted timelessness. The Arjun Machhan House is no exception._©httpswww.sangath.orgprojectsarjun-machhan-weekend-house-ahmedabad
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Low-cost affordable housing was the need of the hour, post our independence. Architects like B.V.Doshi rose to the need for creating homes that had a soul._© httpswww.sangath.orgprojects

3. sP+a

Unity in diversity has been a crucial pillar in the development of our country. A country with a vastly varying socio-cultural environment ought to have architecture relevant to the context. There are multiple other aspects such as climate, site conditions, and socio-economic conditions considered before designing a project. One such firm considering context as a repository of latent resources and amalgamates the production process to enhance and evolve techniques is Sameep Padora Architects. These techniques that they use, function beyond their traditional use and persist not just through preservation function beyond their traditional use and persist not just through preservation but by evolution. 

The firm has time and again opposed the treatment of regional craft and tradition as exotic. This thought process has helped them use the traditional project types and their relational history in the current paradigms of socio-economic forces. Their unabating involvement in research, collaborations, and the model of the collective process of working has helped them grow into symbiotic streams feeding into each other. Their brochure has projects designed to the local context by evolving methodologies of utmost subjective conditions and constraints. 

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Designed as a weekend getaway, the Choksi house was conceptualised as a building that would cause minimum harm to the existing site conditions and contours, with maximum potential for view-points.©https://www.sp-arc.net
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Designed as an addition to the existing school building, linear brick building functions as library for the rural school.©https://www.sp-arc.net
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The spiritual and skill development centre was designed with a conscious ideology to preserve every tree on the site, that was completely climate responsive. ©https://www.sp-arc.net

4. Hamzah and Yeang

Fondly referring to themselves as a ‘super-green’ architecture firm, Hamzah and Yeang were formed in the mid-1970s with an ideology to serve as flag bearers of ecological designs. They strive to deliver projects scientifically and technologically advanced, ecologically sensitive, culturally supportive, and economically viable. 

With over 1000 projects done in more than ten countries, they have envisaged buildings that support the local communities. Their unique and authentic designs are considered beyond rating systems. With the word ‘green’ becoming a common terminology these days, Hamzah and Yeang’s project brochures bear these ideologies since their inception. 

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The Long Hu buildings were designed as a breathable building which reflected the long history of Chinese culture._©httptrhamzahyeang.comportfolio-itemlong-hu
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The culturally important Ganendra art house is an exhibition space that had an innovative chimney with 360 degrees openings._©httptrhamzahyeang.comportfolio-itemganendra-art-house
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The Gnome research centre was designed with intent to take advantage of the site conditions and surrounding views. The line between interior and exterior was blurred._©httpt

5. Renzo Piano Building Workshop

“Good work comes from teams where no one accounts for the origin of the idea”-Renzo Piano.

In 1981, Architect Renzo Piano founded the Renzo Piano Building workshop as an embodiment of his philosophies. The Pritzker Prize laureate envisioned a practice that had people, harmony, and attention to detail as its pillars. Creativity and the use of natural light have always been the central ideas of the 140+ projects designed by RPBW. Collective thinking and collaborative participation have been the working culture in the firm since its inception. People-centric design that has gentle touch has served as a trademark of their work. 

“A profound design process eventually makes the patron, the architect, and every occasional visitor in the building a slightly better human being.” – Juhani Pallasmaa.

Architect Renzo Piano was a true believer in these golden words. He strongly believes that if a building improves the day-to-day mundane life of the people using it, then it is successful in serving its purpose. If one pays close attention, they could notice RPBW’s love for non-physical things such as natural light, breezes, vibration, and colour. Though the firm has numerous projects in diverse typologies, public spaces have always been special for them. Their brochure could give an insight into designing for people.

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Whittle School was a project that involved renovation of a 20th century building by transforming it into a welcoming space with open entry courtyard that blended with the performing spaces.©https://www.whittleschool.org
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The Beirut Museum is designed to establish the historical significance of the connecting spaces and function as an exhibition space that has historical context. ©https://www.world-architects.com
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The children’s Hospice in Bologna is a sustainable glass building conceptualised around the idea of a tree house to appeal to the imagination of the children.©https://ecobnb.com

6. BIG: Bjarke Ingels Group

As the short form of their name aptly suggests, the influence of BIG is substantially huge in contemporary architecture. In the past decade and a half, they have built innovative and iconic buildings across Europe and America. Primarily based in Copenhagen, Architect Bjarke Ingles wanted to set an example of the thought process in design development for the future generations of Architects. 

Elaborate and intricate analysis of the evolution of the contemporary lifestyles aids them in designing spaces that respond to and complement them. They intend to pave the way to the unexplored field that would ensure current social, cultural, and economic challenges are smoothly handled. The utopian designs are futuristic but refrain from falling into the category of what they claim as ‘boring boxes’ or ‘naïve utopian concept of digital formulisation.’ 

All their designs are evolved by starting from the programmatic alchemy of conventional spaces. The projects in their brochure contain an array of inspiring designs that have pragmatic ideas that marry the utopian concepts, thus serving the contemporary needs and changing the face of our world. 

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The Copenhill energy plant and recreation centre by BIG changed the way in which an energy plant is thought of. ©https://www.archdaily.com
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The AI City design was designed to create a landmark building personifying innovation in the hi-tech zone of China. ©https://www.designboom.com
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The Kastaniehjørnet building built with low-energy bricks was designed by stacking and evolving cubes, resulting in a building resembling lego block structures. ©https://www.magasinetpleje.dk

7. Morphosis

The only constant thing today is change itself. The continuously changing and evolving world dictates an ever-evolving design that grows along with it. Architect Thom Mayne founded Morphosis in the early 1970s to achieve this goal. An interdisciplinary practice, evolving their designs on a foundation of extensive research and innovation, they have quite a few buildings and urban spaces painting a clear picture of their ideologies. This dynamic practice’s name has been derived from a Greek word meaning ‘to form or to be in formation’. 

Proving true to their name, they have been forerunners in bringing change in the built environment by responding to the shifting and rapidly growing aspects of the modern lifestyle. Social, cultural, economic, and technological growth has always been at the center of the designs. Such illustrious projects featured in their brochures teach the viewer a thing or two to take away. 

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The university campus design, Bocconi was envisioned as an innovative structure that ensured connections to local context. ©https://www.morphosis.com
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Located on an irregular hillside slope, the Crawford residence they carved the design based on rhythmic patterns and oscillations of scale. ©https://www.morphosis.com
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Seoul performing arts centre was designed as an ‘iconic jewel’. ©https://www.morphosis.com

8. Cannon Designs

“People ignore design that ignores people.” – Frank Chimero.

Architecture is an art that intends to improve and enhance the quality of human lives. Cannon Designs have been a pioneer in designing transformational spaces and strategies that would improve lives. In all their designs, they apply personal experience and envision a project that connects with the user’s soul and has an authentic human expression. 

Their brochure contains projects designed with an approach that they refer to as ‘living-centered design’. This approach ensures that the spaces create an environment where the users flourish. The complex nexus between people, environment, community, and elements of the society are analysed, to tactically handle the challenges that resist improvement. Named as World-Changing Company by Fast Company, Cannon Designs create futuristic, sustainable buildings with people at the center of their thought process.

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The Behavioral Sciences Building was intended as a building that promoted collaboration between two different departments. ©https://www.cannondesign.com
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Kaiser Permanente Radiation Oncology Center was designed to create a calm environment for the patients with the help of natural light, subtle colours and views that connect the indoor and outdoor areas. ©https://www.cannondesign.com
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State University of New York at Albany was designed with a flexible plan and multifunctional spaces. ©https://www.cannondesign.com

9. Perkins and Will

During this Covid-19 pandemic, one lesson that we learned stood out crystal clear. Architecture and spatial design have the power to change lives and foster the spirit of community. 

“Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architect’s task, therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise.” – Adolf Loos.

Perkins and Will, have always set their eyes on inspiring and uplifting the lives of the people and ensure the spaces they design to bring joy into the users’ lives. Their goal is to create a positive impact in the world. The spaces they weave present a story that enlivens and builds neighbourhoods and communities, protects the environment, and respects the choices of the people. 

They have redefined sustainability by devising an ideology they hail as ‘Living Design’. The envision spaces that are sculpted around sustainability, inclusion, regeneration, and resilience to serve the current scenario, tomorrow, and the time beyond that as well. Their simple, novel and futuristic ideas reflected in their project brochure are sure to inspire people to break the glass ceiling and think out of the box and to stay grounded, and acknowledge the present-day needs.

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Albion Library was designed as a community refuge in Toronto’s with an intent to develop the neighbourhood. ©https://perkinswill.com
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The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture was conceptualised as an amalgamation of the site context and the history of African Americans. ©https://perkinswill.com
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The old and outdated Eastern Washington University, Pence Union Building was redesigned as a warm and open gathering space. ©https://perkinswill.com

10. Michael Green Architecture

We live in a world where there is diversity in everything. Our skylines have buildings varying from grand and elaborate to modest and understated. In such a world, we need architects who can design unique buildings complementary to the site and the surroundings. 

One such architecture studio that has this ideology as its cornerstone is Michael Green Architecture. It was founded by award-winning architect Michael Green, with an aspiration to create a significant and sustainable change in a building through innovation and experimentation in construction sciences and design.

 “We believe that good buildings are good neighbours. That may mean they are modest and quiet, or it may mean they need to take a bold stance.” – Michael Green.

Architect Michael, known for his research, and advocacy in promoting the use of wood, new technology, and innovation in the built environment, has been ambitiously following his ideologies to extend the boundaries of mass timber construction. Michael Green Architecture has constructed some of the largest modern timber structures in the world.

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Exterior view of The Wood and Innovation Design Centre ©httpmg-architecture.ca
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The futuristic design aimed at creating a sustainable city plan that had ample open space for people to interact. ©httpmg-architecture.ca
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The exterior facade is designed as an ode to the historical significance of the place. ©httpmg-architecture.ca

The cities are shaped by the architects, and it directly shapes the lives of the people inhabiting them. During the global pandemic, the importance of good spatial planning was deeply felt. As Architects, we have the power to improve the quality of spaces where people live, work, and play. To do it, we must first assimilate the principles that would help us achieve it.

 “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford

Many Architecture firms have passionately influenced the lives of people through good designs. With a rich source of knowledge and a precise path paved, one should learn from that and step up to take the baton from them.

Srinidhi Sriraman
Author

Srinidhi Sriraman is a climate responsive architect who believes in giving back to the environment. A travel enthusiast who strongly believes “what is life worth if there are no stories to tell.” She took to writing to share, learn and also grow in the process.

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