A luminary in Indian Architecture, Architect Hafeez Contractor, today has 7.2 billion square feet of ongoing projects running in almost 100 cities and 5 varied countries, 2500 clients, and 550 team members. He has impacted the skyline of much of the built environment of urban India with his distinctive identifying stamp.

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He set up practice in 1982 intending to achieve design excellence, efficient delivery, and sophistication in building technology. His bungalows, skyscrapers, residential developments, corporate offices, shopping malls, hotels, educational institutions, railway stations, airports, infrastructure projects, civic redevelopment, low-cost housing and so many more breath-taking projects in the architectural vista in India have been challenging and erratic.

Some of the lesser-known facts about the Architect are:

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Received the Padma- Bhushan –Ar. Hafeez Contractor was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 2016 – one of the highest honors given by the Government of India to civilians – for his commendable contribution to Indian Architecture for over 3 decades. His vision to create structures that personify functional and aesthetic qualities has revolutionized and shaped the urban built landscape of the country through exciting, comprehensive, and unpredictable ideas while executing a diverse range of architectural projects.

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Dream is “To provide a house for every Indian” – Ar. Hafeez Contractor has worked extensively on common man’s housing and has tried to make it special. Design efficiency is what he aims for and in the process, he has reinvented his practice. His firm, AHC, has mastered the art of residential architecture, be it affordable or luxury. Ar. Contractor is passionate about social housing and he believes that architecture should be honest and should respond to the spirit of the time. Satisfying the client’s need rationally is his success mantra.

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Fondly called “The Slumdog Millionaire Architect”- Hiranandani Gardens in Mumbai Suburbs, designed by Ar. Hafeez Contractor achieved some measure of fame when it served as a backdrop for India’s high-speed development in the 2008 film “Slumdog Millionaire”. The feeling that one is in a world apart truly defines a Contractor Project. Ar. Hafeez Contractor is the one who is helping to create the face of 21st Century India. He believes that strong support of the vertical growth of cities, prudent land use, and the need for sustainable, compact cities is imperative for maintaining the perfect harmony between increasing population and limited land resources.

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Not a Teacher’s Favourite – Ar. Contractor experienced a lot of struggle in the early part of life. The most amusing part of his story is that he was never a teacher’s favourite and most of the time he barely even completed his home assignments. But his sketches and drawings were one of the best in his class which became a clear indication that he could grow up to be an architect. He loved designing sections of forts, buildings and this passion drew him into the world of architecture and design.

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Investment in Research to create a Positive Impact on the Environment – Ar. Hafeez Contractor has invested a lot of time in research for conceptualizing ways that positively impact the urban environment which includes proposals for public spaces and slum redevelopment. He has worked on solutions for the issue of slums plaguing Mumbai by introducing a Slum Rehabilitation Scheme which he has discussed with officials of the urban development department and senior authorities. He is also working with the housing boards of several Indian states such as Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and others.

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He designs every project through an array of sketches –  Ar. Hafeez Contractor designs every project himself first and then passes it on to his 20 extremely experienced, qualified, and specialized Associate, who further work on it and develop the design with their respective teams. Ar. Contractor treats every project like his own baby and therefore visualizes it himself first. The teams then focus deeply on the design potential of each aspect of the project and convert them into built reality, within the timeframe and budget provided, making sure of the best quality deliverance along with on-time completion.

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Homi Dallas made him an architect –Ar. Contractor did not score well in his 10th-grade exams and therefore, couldn’t get admission to one of the well-known architecture schools. On the advice of a cousin, he met Homi Dallas who was the president of the Indian Institute of Architects at that time. On Homi Dallas’s recommendation, Ar. Contractor got admitted to the Academy of Architecture in Mumbai which became the turning point for his career. After completing his graduation, Ar. Contractor wanted to go to Columbia University for further studies but couldn’t mobilize the funds for the same. Homi Dallas came to the rescue again and became his guarantor.

Author

Simran Bajaj is a Mumbai – based architect. She graduated recently in 2019, worked for a while and is pursuing an MBA now. She is a vibrant girl who loves narrating through her writing. Architecture is her passion but writing makes her feel stronger.

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