Nipun is an architect and a photographer. His profession takes him to places. He is a recipient of the prestigious Berkeley essay prize 2014. He is also awarded Tamayuz international prize for his thesis on “Gandhian framework in a post-conflict architecture”. After he graduated, he went on to do social activism under Aruna Roy for a month. Since January, he is working in Nepal, building houses for those affected by the devastating earthquake.
I have been blessed with great mentors who gave me direction and taught me dedication. I also believe that if we believe in something, we get it.Coming into architecture was not planned in advance.Tandon uncle, a family friend, told mom when I was a kid and liked to play with plastic blocks and random stones that her son was going to be an architect.
That prediction for long was forgotten. Like the usual science student living in Delhi and NCR, I also took a two-year coaching program for IIT. That coaching could not anything about the IIT-JEE exam but acquainted me to the beautiful city of Delhi. For one year I explored the city on every Saturday and Sunday, 10 to 5. In the later half of the year when the board exams were approaching, I realised that I cannot solve sums my whole life. I wanted to draw, I wanted to know different cultures, meet interesting people, observe interesting buildings, write, talk, sketch, reflect, Design. I wanted to do architecture. No one in the family was an architect, not even closely related to any. My cousin Pooja didi told me that her friend was giving coaching classed for architecture. So I joined the Futurist after my board exams for a crash course.
The environment was very good and competitive. The fellow students were very much aware of the architecture scene in the country and about the good colleges, one can aim for. I was a novice in that direction. I learned a lot from them and many of them later became my good friends and batchmates in SPA Bhopal. Priyanka ma’am was a really cool mentor and I had no hesitation in asking her stupid questions. We were taught to crack NATA and AIEEE. The study material they gave was helpful and it also created a base for my further architecture studies. The architecture aptitude classes provided a good knowledge bank for my further architecture studies in college. While I was into the first year, most of the things in the course were already taught in futurist classes.
I got into SPA Bhopal with most of my fellow batchmates I had no idea that it was a very new college and had no campus of its own. That was a setback but turned out to be very positive for me. But the difference of a National college was clearly visible. I had batchmates from almost every state in the country. During our initial days, we learned a lot about each other’s culture, food, and of course, abuses. The college, establishing itself in the booming field of architecture education gave us a lot of freedom to do what we wanted. We worked hard to start a lot of things together. We started photography clubs, did the first photography exhibition, ‘perception’, started art activities, and were also involved in various architecture competitions. We had to prove ourselves to the world and we did. My batchmate Sukruti and me won the International Berkeley essay award organised by UCB. We were lucky to be guided by wonderful mentors like Rachna Khare ma’am, Saurabh Tewari sir, and Supriya Kukreja ma’am.
Vacations gave us time to do something we couldn’t do during the college. Some did internships in architecture offices, some learned pottery, I interned with the Hindustan times in Delhi in photojournalism. Photography was a passion apart from architecture to which I was deeply committed to. That internship gave me good lessons in telling stories with the photographs. I also met one of my greatest mentors, Gurinder Osan sir. His excellent way of teaching and beautiful photographs gave me a lot of inspiration.
My another major point during college was when I did my internship in Hunnarshala Foundation, Bhuj. It offer came at the time when my visa for Spain was rejected at the last moment. I met many people there who were making dreams and building them on the ground.
A well-detailed blog on my experiences can be found here.
There, I met my other greatest guru, Sandeep Bhai. His humbleness and grounded knowledge formed the basis of my stint with the architecture emerging from the ground. I met two super duper energetic co-workers, Tapas and Bhawna who are now among my closest friends.
I would say I was most dedicated and committed to architecture when I came to my final year. My internship had opened me to what architecture from the ground was.That was the time when I met Saurabh Popli sir, who later decided to be my mentor for the thesis. His guidance and positivity moulded me and gave me a confused spirit, a direction. I am proud to tell, that I not only topped my thesis but also won 2 National and one international award.
For the aspiring students of architecture, If you feel like doing architecture, do it! Don’t hold yourself, don’t come with your friends or family pressure. Architecture is a booming field. It opens you up and exposes you to a wide range of other fields as well. You are not just limited to architecture for further studies. Many of my batchmates and seniors later joined the army, became artists, project managers, graphic designers, travel photographers, journalists, writers, UI designers, planners, etc. Do what you feel is right for you in this moment of time and let the life take its course because it always does good.