Twenty-seven years into the practice, Architect Sanjay Puri continues to seek innovation and exceptional design approach, and attain sustainability in the larger picture. The firm Sanjay Puri Architects is a team of 70+ creative and inventive minds and has a diverse project profile including major townships, hospitality projects, schools, and commercial complexes. In an exclusive interview with Failing It Up, the award-winning architect shares his journey in the professional world. Here he spills the beans of his failures and success and reveals a few experiences from the past. Also, he advised young architects and students to keep trying, learning from the failures, and coming back stronger.

Interviews with Architects: Sanjay Puri- Top Architect shares Fails & ways of handling Failures (2020)
Ar. Sanjay Puri_©

Interview courtesy ©

Starting It Up

Stressing the need for beginners to get acquainted with the regular procedures in the profession, Sanjay Puri narrates his very first experience in an architectural office. Fascinated by the romantic description of architecture by Ayn Rand in his book The Fountainhead, Architect Puri started with a summer internship having zero knowledge of architecture. With a determination for learning, this was a four months reality check under the mentorship of Hafeez Contractor. Exploring the architecture world and learning…. In reference to his schedule during the five-year architecture degree program, he describes it as a constant 24 hours of doing architecture. From taking up his first individual project in college to time-stretching between site visits and academic submissions. “The two years of hard work made the difference,” says the winner of 138 international and over 100 national awards.

In addition, Sanjay Puri reflected the image of the construction industry and redefined the role of architects in the Indian context. Along with design and details, quality supervision on-site and educating the clients and contractors is an add-on to the architect’s duties in developing countries like India. He states clearly that ‘knowing it all’ is the only way out through the challenges in the profession. 

Accepting Challenges and Gaining Recognition

Sanjay Puri has been a keynote speaker at multiple architectural events internationally and has also been a part of the premium judging panels to many. After having made his mark amidst the Indian architectural fraternity, something that remains constant is “chance of failure is everywhere.” Faulty execution by the contractor or misinterpretation of the structural drawings, a new error to overcome every time. Also, new learning and a parameter to be more careful about the next time. 

Having said this, Architect Sanjay Puri narrates an experience from his initial years in the industry. He buys ‘the fact that fear of failure leads to nowhere.’ Challenging one’s comfort and reaching out beyond the academic knowledge, is the virtue this profession demands. Not giving up and finding an exceptional solution to every knot that rises…. Every detail and specification matters, slight revisions in the design alters the construction associated. He suggests an architecture that is precisely meaningful, and exclusively contextual. Exploring the possibilities in the architecture world with thoughtful creation and careful execution. 

Relieving the good times Sanjay Puri shared a memorable meet with Charles Jencks at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona. Meeting in person with the textbook pioneers is an experience beyond expectation, hard-work and constant thirst for knowledge made it possible. Sanjay Puri has been awarded 10 World Architecture Festival awards to date including an award for the World’s Best Housing Project of 2018. Together with Spain, Abu Dhabi, and Montreal, Sanjay Puri Architects has designed edifices in about 10 foreign and 40+ Indian cities and has been a member of the leading European Architects Forum. 18 World Architecture Community awards (UK), 3 hospitality Design awards (NY), and numerous others. Learning from the different grades of projects, different challenges faced, and from all that falls in between is the attitude to be worked upon, says Architect Puri.

Learn and Grow

Architectural design competitions are a great way today to keep up with world competition and constant knowledge updates. The firm Sanjay Puri Architects works on multiple architectural competitions at once. A way to experiment and innovate, a way to take up the challenge, and a way to learn from the competitors as well. Revisiting the lost competition entry, analyzing one’s strengths and weaknesses, and getting better the next time is the key. Refining the definition of failure, Sanjay Puri has put forward a positive perception towards failing. He believes that there is always a next time to make it up for a failure. No design is wrong, understanding the requirement brief and producing a design that meets the expectations of the jurors should be the ultimate goal. Disregard the stress of failure and move forward along with the learnings.

Today, Sanjay Puri is leading his generation of architects in the country. His positive interpretation of failure and productive ways to face challenges is a definite take away for young architects and students. To close with, ‘Losing a race is always a sign of something better waiting for you, always.’


Compulsive speaker and an attentive ear to the other side of the story. She believes in the power of architecture and stars.