A multifaceted sector encompassing the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of the structure we live, work and play in, the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry represents the backbone of the built environment that surrounds us.
The AEC industry plays an instrumental role in shaping the physical world, from the towering skyscrapers that grace urban skylines to the intimate interiors of our homes. Within this diverse and ever-evolving field, Akbar Hussain Akbari emerges as a standout figure.
After graduating from Chennai’s Anna University with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 1986, Mr. Akbari embarked on a journey that has spanned over three decades. His early career saw him collaborating with renowned builders in Chennai, honing his skills and expertise. Subsequently, he sought international exposure in the Gulf for over a year.
As the 1990s unfolded, he embarked on his entrepreneurial journey by founding his own firm under his name, Akbar Hussain Akbari.
In the early days of his practice, Mr. Akbari focused on his specialization in designing apartments for builders, collaborating with prominent names like Alsa Constructions and Housing Ltd, Anubhav Housing Ltd, and Abhinav Associates throughout the 1990s.
However, he soon diversified his portfolio, working on projects for individual clients, corporations and commercial establishments, including ventures in interior design.
As the 1990s came to an end, a real estate market downturn prompted Mr. Akbari to diversify his project portfolio. His focus expanded to encompass hotels, institutional buildings, and various other architectural and interior ventures.
Fast forward to today, with approximately 35 years of architectural experience under his belt, Mr. Akbari’s legacy continues to evolve. In 2019, his daughter, Ar Zahabiya, also an architecture graduate from Anna University, joined his Chennai office for a few years before her relocation to Rajkot, Gujarat.
With her focus and aptitude, Zahabiya has also acquired a distinct design finesse, which is displayed in her works. Despite the geographical separation, their collaboration thrives, with her managing projects in both Gujarat and Chennai, spanning interior design and architectural works.
Over the years, the firm has experienced significant growth, and they look forward to many more years of successful ventures.
With three decades of experience in the industry, the firm has done numerous noteworthy projects.
However, there remain a few that hold a special place in Mr. Akbari’s portfolio. One such project involved the successful completion of a massive development spanning approximately 500 units on a sprawling 4-acre site in Chennai.
This ambitious undertaking featured multiple-dwelling, ground-plus nine-floor multi-storeyed buildings consisting of four separate blocks.
The project’s outstanding execution and its unique elements, including grand multi-floor atriums, opulent common areas and luxurious corridors, earned widespread acclaim and even garnered recognition in the form of an award for best architecture in Hong Kong.
It even served as a captivating location for a movie shoot. Another noteworthy accomplishment was a resort that opened in 2020 in Chennai. Designed to function as a versatile destination wedding venue, this project received Mr. Akbari’s meticulous attention in both architectural and interior design aspects, extending to all rooms and the lobby.
The result was a resounding success, with the resort quickly becoming a favoured choice in the region, solidifying its status as a prominent landmark in Chennai’s architectural landscape.
Their Portfolio also Includes:-
A diverse range of projects (residential, commercial and others) in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andaman, and Pondicherry since 1990.
Over 100 residential apartment projects of various sizes for prominent builders.
The design and execution of a prominent hotel, “Hotel Hilltop International,” in Port Blair in 2011, covering both architecture and interiors.
The design of government hospitals in multiple locations in Chennai earned appreciation from the Chief Minister and the Health Secretary during the years 2008-2010.
Mr. Akbari’s design approach emphasises functionality and careful planning, giving paramount importance to elements like building layout, circulation, and ventilation.
“The architectural realm remains heavily inspired by Louis Sullivan’s philosophy of ‘form follows function’, and that has been my guiding motto as well. I begin by aligning a structure’s form with its intended functionality and then refining the form to create spaces that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing,” shares Mr. Akbari.
For the firm, their commitment to exceeding client expectations and maximising returns for clients, particularly in the context of industry norms and constraints, has remained steadfast throughout their years in business.
For interior projects, their central focus is on ensuring budgetary discipline and cost-effective excellence, a policy they have consistently upheld over time.
Mr. Akbari says, “Success for us transcends mere financial gain; it’s about earning the appreciation and praise from clients and users of our work. We take pride in not only being honoured and acknowledged by individual clients but also receiving recognition from esteemed awarding bodies.”
Some of the notable recognitions earned by Mr. Akbari over the years include,
· Most Creative & Trusted Architecture & Interior Design Firm of the Year 2023 by Beginup Research Intelligence Pvt Ltd
· Top 25 Most Prominent Architect & Designer 2023, South India by Beginup Research Intelligence Pvt Ltd
· Innovation in Designing High-Rise Apartments at Architects WOW Awards 2022 by Global Business Reconnect
· Top & Most Innovative Architecture & Interior Design Firm of the Year 2020, Tamil Nadu at National Architecture & Interior Design Excellence Awards
· Best Architecture (Multiple Units) India, 2010, at Asia Pacific Residential Property Awards by South India Shelters Pvt Ltd in association with Bloomberg Television
Challenges and failures are a part of any entrepreneurial journey. For Mr. Akbari, the challenges unfurled in the form of being unable to secure projects and untimely delivery of projects, leading to valuable lessons about relying on associates, particularly for time-bound projects.
There were also some instances of design rejection by clients; however, all these challenges have been instrumental in shaping his understanding of and ability to meet client expectations in these areas.
The pandemic impact on the firm has also been substantial. Covid-19 brought the construction industry to a halt, causing delays in proposed projects for builders and clients alike.
Work on most new projects was indefinitely postponed, causing a notable downturn in business. Mr. Akbari shares, “It took approximately a year for things to gradually stabilise and for the industry to resume some degree of normalcy.”
In the evolving world of design and construction, new technologies are transforming the field. Construction automation and real-time simulation tools in the AEC sector are enhancing building performance and energy efficiency.
AI-powered building information modelling is streamlining traditional on-site work and enabling remote collaboration. Intelligent buildings with automated systems are improving operational efficiency and occupant well-being. Sustainability is a growing trend, emphasising energy self-sufficiency and long-term cost-effectiveness.
Mr. Akbari and his team actively incorporate these principles into their designs, helping clients navigate associated costs. Despite initial expenses, the long-term benefits make sustainability a wise choice, ensuring positive environmental contributions from their buildings.
For the years 2023-2024, the firm has a robust lineup of interior projects for residential apartment interiors for an entire project. Additionally, they are involved in planning and designing affordable housing projects consisting of sixty-plus dwelling units in Chennai.
There are also upcoming commercial and office building projects in the pipeline, set to commence soon.
Looking ahead, Mr. Akbari envisions their company securing a greater number of larger projects in the coming five years. They aim to expand their portfolio by attracting more builders and taking on additional apartment housing projects with a particular focus on interior design.
Advising young architects and interior designers, Mr. Akbari shares,