Shimul Jhaveri Kadri is the founder and principal architect of SJK architects, one of India’s leading architecture firms. Apart from being a successful architect, Shimul Jhaveri Kadri is also a teacher, speaker, jurist, and occasional writer. This influential architect is an avid feminist and celebrates strongly driven women in her firm. The firm works towards bringing equality through education and feminism. The design practice follows strong philosophical ideologies.
In 1980, she pursued her architecture education at the Academy of Architecture, Mumbai. In an interview with Architect and Interior India, she mentions that she was very keen on architecture for its combination of science and the arts but had to convince her parents to let her join architecture. Later on, went to the USA for a Master’s degree in Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. After returning to India, she set up this award-winning firm in the year 1990. The architect Shimul Jhaveri Kadri, has been transforming how we look at design since then, whether it’s industrial or institutional buildings or office interiors or bungalows.
Her enthusiasm for promoting women’s empowerment can be seen through her involvement in numerous welfare organizations. She serves as a Trustee for Save the Children India where she actively promotes education and women’s projects. She is also on the Board of Directors of a women’s resource center in Mumbai, Akshara.
Shimul Jhaveri Kadri is driven by egalitarian democratic societies, profound respect for nature, and a fundamental belief in equality in people and their connectedness towards each other. As a result, the firm can build buildings that sit comfortably and naturally in the environment – without certain kinds of egoistic individualism – buildings that embrace natural materials, the sun, and the wind, as opposed to mechanized boxes that alienate people from the environment.
Her desire to create architecture that is relevant and exciting for India’s vibrant market while incorporating elements of historical wisdom has led to commissions as diverse as hotels for religious tourism, an automobile design studio for Mahindra, and a museum dedicated to Jainism.
In the 90s, the world was ushered over newer materials and technologies like glass and aluminum, and steel and concrete construction. But when Kadri started her firm, she understood that though these materials are a global trend, she has to find her style.
The work produced over the last thirty-two years by Shimul Jhaveri Kadri Architects has portrayed their distinct sensibility in architecture. Kadri believes in the philosophy of building in harmony with nature- using natural materials, sunlight, and wind and considering cultural contexts. The team at SJK believes architecture is a collaboration of people, ideas, and attitudes. It is an output of the client’s aspiration and the social context of the project.
In her early days, she started with small interior projects. Her ideas were influenced by the climate and indigenous architecture of India. She realized the importance of prioritizing each project and converting it into an opportunity beyond just problem-solving. She restricted herself from doing the residential interior project. Though in a place like Mumbai it is an easier option to acquire those projects as a woman, her firm would lose its identity and be easily stereotyped into interiors.
The unique approach that Shimul Jhaveri Architects have made them stand out from the crowd. The firms work on a plethora of projects ranging from residential, educational, and hospitality to corporate offices, industrial buildings, and cultural centers. Their unique concepts of contemporary innovations are drawn from the traditions of India. These approaches have led the firm to win many awards. One such project is the Dasavatara Hotel in Tirupati whose concept was derived from the 10 incarnations of Vishnu. This mythological story derived the concept for the project which led to the firm winning Prix Versailles Special Prize in 2016. The same project included a restaurant named Lotus Cafe; this project also won the Prix Versailles in the Restaurants category.
Among her award-winning buildings is the Automobile Design Studio for Mahindra and Mahindra Limited, India, which won the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design Award in 2016. The design and architecture of the Nirvana Films office, Bengaluru, have won numerous awards, including the World Architecture Festival Small Project of the Year Award 2012, the Excellence in Design Award, and the FuturArc Green Leadership Award.
Her vision for the next ten years for the firm is to work on the improvement of education and housing. She also has a plan to work on the current condition of urban housing. The current urban housing scenario is degrading which has led to the formation of slums or degenerate multi-story buildings. Additionally, she expects to see more autonomy within the firm and several people rising to leadership positions, while she takes on more writing and teaching responsibilities.
- May 18, A.P., May 28, 2018 I.D., May 18, 2018UPDATED: and Ist, 2018 16:18 (n.d.). Architecture is a collaboration with people, ideas and attitudes: Shimul Javeri Kadri. [online] India Today. Available at: https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/supplement/story/20180528-architecture-is-a-collaboration-with-people-ideas-and-attitudes-shimul-javeri-kadri-1236202-2018-05-18.
- Vasudev, S. (2016). India is going through a cultural colonization, says Shimul Javeri. [online] mint. Available at: https://www.livemint.com/Companies/P2DJO7W76FcvzntnyTLllJ/India-is-going-through-a-cultural-colonization-Shimul-Javer.html [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].
- sjkarchitect. (n.d.). SJK Architects | Team. [online] Available at: https://www.sjkarchitect.com/team-sjk [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].