Ranju Singhi: Architecture as the precursor to a sustainable future
Buildings speak to us subliminally. History has till date, displayed to the world, the difference between violence and empathy. And the built cultures around the globe stands perhaps as the one authentic witness to that. The once prevalent notion that humans remain unaffected by the built surroundings is no more valid. Our subconscious is highly receptive of the spaces we dwell in. Industrial Revolution has taken a deep toll on our planet, be it via ozone depletion or global warming to name some. Only recently has humankind resorted to measures to save their surroundings, to restore it back to the optimum. Our ignorance has led us into the present state of affairs, and our lack of awareness is of concern.
In utopia, architecture would be looked upon as a field of study related to mental health, with a pivotal role to play in public well-being. Architecture plays a deeper role in the society. Where we stay, work, or even the places we go to play or use for recreation affects us. Expanding our barriers from buildings to our neighbourhood, we must strive to understand how space influences our psychology. We must look at our cities and how it moulds our daily lifestyle. As such, our built environment is of utmost importance. As individuals designing these spaces where we exist, architects play a larger role in the society. One will admit that we have messed up our past, but with the technological advancements of the present, the future doesn't look too bleak. The only path to make our built environment beautiful and conducive is the path of sustainability, of sensitivity towards nature and our Earth. As responsible members of the community, architects actively advocate designs that include the community and marries its needs seamlessly with the nature. This helps in maintaining a balance that is necessary, leading us to a brighter future.
Ar. Ranju Singhi spoke about being an entrepreneur, her organization, her personal and professional journey in an insightful conversation with our editorial team. Here are the edited excerpts.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
As an architect, the freedom to operate is absent in a typical office. I realised that to completely explore my potential, I will need to start independently. It was a humble start for me and my business partner, Vinod. We started our practice in a single room with one employee, those were the days we had to take care of everything ourselves. The start was an eventuality, and our roles in the office started to streamline as the journey continued. When we started our journey as entrepreneurs, it was important for our practice to have strong founding principles which will further help guide our company. Finally, we came up with BASICS as name of our firm after extensive research.
Throw some light on your business and its offerings.
BASICS is a New Delhi based multi-disciplinary Design Studio involved in Architecture and Interior projects. We design built environments that are sustainable, functional and above all meets the needs of the stakeholders and the end users. Within the Architecture domain we have been designing Institutional projects like schools, apartment buildings and hospitality projects whereas in Interiors we are primarily focus into corporate office interiors.
How is it different from other companies?
BASICS is not just our guiding Philosophy and Approach to projects but is also an Acronym for our six values – Boutique, Affordable, Sustainable, Innovation, Context and Social. We deeply embed these values in each of our projects. This helps in providing customised Design solutions and projects which are unique and stand the test of time. Our ability to push the boundaries and come out with Designs which are not only out of the box but are deeply connected to the end user's stakeholders
If you could describe yourself in a few words what would they be?
Balanced, Hardworking & a Keen Listener.
Define a perfect business leader. What are the qualities you think a great leader possesses?
A great leader needs to possess excellent communication and delegation skills with a Servant's heart.
What advice would you give to other business-women who want to thrive in a male-dominated industry?
My only advice to my fellow businesswomen is, be prepared to put in the extra effort to break the glass ceiling!
How does a day in your life look like?
The morning hours of the day are dedicated to my family and fitness class. Vinod and I get into a 15 minutes scrum as soon as we reach office daily. This helps us plan the whole day and share responsibilities. The office day generally is packed with internal reviews, project presentations, business meetings and most importantly reaching out to potential clients. The day normally ends at late evenings which is when I try to completely switch off from work.
What do you like to do the most when you are not executing your business operation?
I have a deep affinity for Indian Handlooms and prefer to wear Sarees sourced from different parts of the country. I also try do some research on Indian weaves and handlooms in terms of their origin and culture. This is not only a passion but also a huge stress buster for me. During my spare time I also engage myself with a Social Media group I have created for the local community which has over 2000 mothers from my locality currently. The objective here is to create a virtual platform for socializing, seeking help, advice and mutual support among the local community. On the family front I love to spend a lot of time with my seven-year-old in various activities.
Describe the most memorable incident of your professional life.
The happiest moment of my life was when we delivered our first architecture project, a green-field School. The satisfaction of seeing a project from a drawing board to a real brick and mortar structure coming alive is tremendous.
One word that describes you the best.
If you had one piece of advice to rising entrepreneurs just starting out, what would it be?
Know your passion and understand it thoroughly. Build a full proof business model around it and be ready to test it in the market for at least five years with full conviction. Never fear failure, it is just another step towards success.
If you could never work again, would you and why?
Is that even an option? My work is my personality, my identity and I cannot imagine myself not actively engaged in work.
What are your plans on retiring?
I love what I do. As an architect I would never like to retire. It is not just a business but more importantly a passion for me and the way we are engaged, thoughts keep on coming to your head 24×7! The research will always be ON.
Is there anything you enjoy more than being an entrepreneur?
I cherish my moments as a mother. I cannot say if it is more than being an entrepreneur, but I believe this is where the balance comes in!
If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you're the best in the world at?
I think it will be people skills.
Profile of Ranju Singhi
Ranju Singhi completed her Bachelor's program in Architecture from JNEC, Aurangabad. After working for many reputed Architectural design firms, she co-founded Basics in the year 2004 along with Vinod Singhi. She serves as the CEO & Co-founder in the firm. With over 20 years' experience in the industry, Ranju has worked on variety of projects both Architecture & Interiors spanning across geographies.