Growing up in a highly educated family spurred Swati Bhargava to pursue her Bachelors in Architecture with honours. Following that, she established the De Proxemics Design Studio, which currently specialises in architectural, interior and environmental design consultancy services. Her architectural practice revolves around concepts pertaining to energy efficiency and passive design techniques.
Over 12 years, the business has expanded and completed over 250 projects. Bhargava has a distinction in Sustainable Environmental Design (Masters) from Architectural Association, London, which is the alma mater of legendary architects like Zaha Hadid.
She then set up another office in London when she started bagging prestigious and iconic projects soon after graduation. It was a risk to leave her deep-grounded business in India while she was on a sabbatical, but she it paid off well. The London office has projects ranging from high-end residential bungalows to listed historic mansions and corporate offices. Bhargava believes what gives her an edge over others is the application of sustainability measures to all her projects.
Connecting India to the UK
In the past few years, there has been a growing awareness for energy efficient yet functional designs all over the world.
Bhargava’s research work in London primarily focused on ‘Courtyards’ and ‘Jalis’ of Rajasthan, and was highly recommended by the members of the jury. She realised that it would be worthwhile to introduce the ‘Zero bills home’ concept—popular in the UK and Europe—to India. A detailed thermal, daylight, solar control analysis is carried out through simulations and through passive design principles; it can lead to astonishing results with regards to energy savings and guarantee occupant comfort. Further, this helps the clients achieve lower energy bills and lesser carbon emissions.
She aims to spread awareness about such design methods and educate people about adopting green architecture. Further, Bhargava has generated a lot of business for the Indian traders, craftsmen and professionals by offering them work for her international projects.
On being a female entrepreneur
Being a female entrepreneur in the construction industry has never been easy. In our country, the architecture as a profession is one of the most underpaid ones. "Moreover, when you’re just starting out, it’s difficult to win new clients while keeping the firm financially sustainable," she says. It was a challenge for her to juggle between her role as a mother and as the head of a company. She adds, "I had to make some tough choices, thanks to the constant shuttling between India and UK. Staying away from my kids and family for long periods of time, was not easy, but I enjoy travelling extensively for work, and my Indian design team helps me manage my businesses in India and the UK.’’
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