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Sonali and Manit Rastogi: Shaping India's Architecture with Sustainability and Vision

House 1 From a small room above a garage 18 years ago, the Indian architecture firm Morphogenesis, founded by Sonali and Manit Rastogi, has transformed into a powerhouse of design innovation and sustainability. With a...

House 1 House 1

From a small room above a garage 18 years ago, the Indian architecture firm Morphogenesis, founded by Sonali and Manit Rastogi, has transformed into a powerhouse of design innovation and sustainability. With a team of 100 experts and a diverse portfolio of projects across India and the region, Morphogenesis has earned well-deserved recognition and numerous prestigious awards.

Rooted in Indian Culture and Context

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Morphogenesis stands out by embracing the essence of Indian culture and addressing the social, economic, and climatic conditions unique to the region. The firm's work goes beyond glitz and flamboyance, instead focusing on building quality spaces that give back to the community while minimizing energy consumption and respecting the environment. Sonali and Manit's commitment to this ethos earned them the SIA-GETZ Architecture Prize for Emergent Architecture Asia.

A Journey of Exploration and Innovation

Sonali and Manit's journey in architecture began at The School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi, followed by studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. After gaining valuable experience abroad, they returned to India during a period of significant transformation in the nation's history.

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Eager to contribute to the emerging India, Sonali remembers, "We were becoming a different kind of people, a different kind of economy, opening up to the world. There were also lots of different types of Indians emerging. And to set ourselves within that environment was very exciting, with a lot of different opportunities to explore all the ideas that we've been bombarded with, that we've worked upon, as well as combining that with our history, our culture, our heritage."

Pioneering Sustainability

Morphogenesis Pearl Academy

Long before "green" and "sustainability" became buzzwords, Morphogenesis adopted a sustainable approach as the only logical way to practice architecture in India. Manit recalls one of their early projects, the Pearl Academy of Fashion in Jaipur, as a pivotal moment for the firm. While the client did not request a sustainable building explicitly, Morphogenesis delivered an energy-efficient structure that maintained a comfortable temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, even in scorching 46-degree heat, without the need for air-conditioning.

The Power of Design

Morphogenesis The Uttorayon Township

The firm's commitment to sustainable design continued with the Uttorayon Township project in Suliguri, aiming to build affordable houses on limited land. Through simple yet ingenious ecological solutions, Morphogenesis successfully tackled complex urban planning challenges. By designing infrastructure that responded to the movement of water and energy, the project achieved a harmonious balance between human needs and environmental sensitivity.

Redefining Indian Cities

Morphogenesis The Uttorayon Township

Morphogenesis also took on the ambitious task of designing the Infosys Ltd campus in Mihan, Nagpur, to accommodate 60,000 people. Remarkably, through innovative techniques and meticulous planning, the project achieved net-zero energy, water, and waste to landfill for a population of 20,000.

Morphogenesis Infosys Ltd

Manit emphasizes that sustainable solutions are not limited by density, stating, "The whole argument on density is actually not entirely correct… there are solutions on both micro and macro levels. And it’s the same fundamental [approach]: follow the process, not the product… Cities are the leftover of human activity. Don’t try to design the city, design the process by which people will inhabit the city and interact with each other."

Transforming Delhi's Landscape

Morphogenesis Delhi’s nullah network

In Delhi, Morphogenesis aims to revolutionize the city's extensive nullah network, proposing an organic water treatment system, green walkways, and cycling tracks. Their visionary plan, approved by the government despite the complexities of coordinating over 80 planning bodies, promises to create a collective platform for urban development.

Celebrating the Process

The SIA-GETZ award holds a special place in Sonali and Manit's hearts as it recognizes their unwavering dedication to the architectural process itself, rather than focusing solely on individual projects. For them, building a strong foundation and design philosophy takes precedence over individual accolades. Their work speaks volumes about their commitment to shaping India's architecture with sustainability, vision, and an unwavering focus on community.

Visit Morphogenesis' Website to explore their inspiring body of work.

Article based on the original content from morphogenesis.org