Somaya & Kalappa Consultants
Family trips across India, when she was a child, exposed Brinda Somaya to the incredible diversity of cultures, vernacular architecture and crafts that exist in the country. Architecture, art, music and history seemed to integrate so well. These experiences encouraged her to follow her passion for architecture and launch her firm, Somaya & Kalappa Consultants, in 1985 even though she was unsure where this journey would lead.
“I only knew I loved what I did, and my work as an architect was not separate from my being,” says Somaya, founder and principal architect of the Mumbai-based multi-disciplinary architecture and design firm.
Her love for India has heavily influenced her work and instilled a consciousness of sustainable processes, which have been an integral part of Indian architecture. “I have often collaborated with indigenous craftsmen and artisans to imbibe building practices that have evolved over centuries,” says Somaya. “The work done must be inclusive in nature, representative of the rich culture and heritage of our country, and we must use resources and local materials appropriately.”
The firm is involved in the upgradation of slums, corporate and public buildings, low-income housing, and restoration of vernacular and colonial buildings. Its work on the Vikram Sarabhai Library, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, won it the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation 2019 Award of Distinction. They also go beyond buildings, working with programmes that transform society. “We always request our clients that 1 percent of the project cost has to support Indian arts and crafts from the region,” says Nandini Sampat, director and principal architect at Somaya & Kalappa Consultants.
The firm is also passionate about recycling, restoring and retrofitting existing buildings because of the embodied energy that exists in them, even in ordinary buildings. “That is why I say that we, as architects, are guardians for the built and unbuilt environment,” says Somaya.
The Bombay Scottish Orphanage Society in Mumbai, Goa Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangharalaya–Galleries and the Conservation Lab, are some of their projects in the works.
By Darielle Britto