‘Conservation and sustainability hold paramount significance’

Architectural landscape has transitioned from conventional structures to architecturally impressive and visually appealing edifices that adorn the urban skyline, says Architect Khozema Chitalwala

It was three decades ago that Khozema Chitalwala began his architectural journey with a project in the suburbs of India’s financial capital, Mumbai. In 1988, he established his own firm, Designers Group, with a dream and endeavour to establish it as an internationally acclaimed design firm. Success alluded the talented architect in the initial years but he kept going with persistence and hard work as his two closest companions. Finally, he got to work on Taj Hotels and Resorts, an IHCL project which proved to be the turning point for Chitalwala and Designers Group. Over a period, Designers Group became one of the leading internationally acclaimed hospitality design firms in India. 

“Our portfolio spans a wide range of hospitality projects, encompassing budget, boutique and five-star establishments nationwide. We are fortunate to have collaborated with a diverse array of prominent brands, including notable projects like Mumbai’s Fairfield by Marriott, Bhopal’s Grand Hyatt and Kathmandu’s Crown Plaza. Our ongoing endeavours extend to renowned names like Holiday Inn and Hilton. This trajectory has been crafted through Designers Group’s steadfast 35-year practice, dedicating 25 years to honing our expertise in hospitality, fostering an in-depth understanding of varied hospitality tiers, brand distinctions and geographic locations,” Chitalwala informs. The Group’s engagements extend to boutique brands as exemplified by collaborations with entities like IHCL SeleQtions, reflected in projects such as Jaipur’s Devi Ratn and Haridwar’s Pilibhit House,” shares the ace designer.

Furthermore, Designers Group has established affiliations with a niche clientele, encompassing names such as Taj, Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, Pride, Holiday Inn, Mahagun, Ramada, Park Plaza, Novotel, Hometel, Radisson, Heritage, Grand Mercure, Avadh, Regenta, Orchid, Golden Tulip, Fariyas, The Fern, Choice, 7 Apple, Fortune, Wow, Best Western, Imperial, Sarovar, Blossom and others. “With each successive project, we continually elevate our capabilities, underlining our commitment to advancing hospitality design standards. Concurrently, we are actively engaged in extending our influence to international domains,” he says.

Talking about his experience of working for different hospitality brands, Chitalwala says, “Distinctive philosophies underpin each brand and our comprehensive understanding of these philosophies enables us to craft designs that harmonise effortlessly with each brand’s ethos. Emphasising upon this, as architects and designers, we assume the pivotal role of bridging the aspirations of our clients and the requisites of the brand. This mediation is a responsibility we undertake with adeptness.”

Sharing more about his 30-year-plus journey, Chitalwala says, “The landscape of architecture has undergone a notable transformation, transitioning from conventional structures to architecturally impressive and visually appealing edifices that adorn the urban skyline. A substantial departure in architectural style has been observed, marked by a rapid evolution that continues to unfold. Presently, numerous projects are influenced by contextual and environmental factors, leading to the refinement of architectural sensibilities.” He adds this trend is conspicuous, extending even to the current generation of architects who demonstrate a meticulous emphasis on these dimensions. “Additionally, with the prevalence of extensive travel, individuals are exhibiting a tendency to seek established benchmarks wherever they go,” he avers.

Chitalwala feels one project that posed the utmost challenge for him and his team was Pilibhit House in Haridwar as it was presented to them amidst a lockdown period and consequently reached completion within the confines of lockdown regulations. “Despite the hindrance that impeded physical site visits, we adeptly harnessed technological resources to successfully navigate the intricacies of this project,” says the Principal Architect of Designers Group, adding the underlying principles and distinctive attributes that shape the design and development of structures constitute their overarching design philosophy. 

“Central to this philosophy is the prioritisation of simplicity, complemented by a deep-rooted appreciation for the local context and cultural ethos. This deliberate approach has always empowered us to fashion environments that transcend mere visual allure, forging profound bonds with individuals. To be specific, our perpetual aspiration involves crafting impactful and enduring solutions by weaving regional intricacies into the fabric of our hospitality projects,” he feels.

To translate ideas into functional designs, Chitalwala says the inception of every project commences with the art of sketching, while its culmination is marked by the realisation of functional designs. The incorporation of technology also plays a pivotal role in this process. However, it is through the act of sketching that the thought process is elucidated and crystallised. While conceptualising and designing a hospitality project, the experienced architect shares that the domain of hospitality encompasses not only design elements but also operations, engineering and maintenance considerations. “It is of significance to comprehensively grasp how efficiencies in manpower, energy utilisation and sustainability can be well integrated to optimise outcomes,” he says.

To incorporate sustainable measure in the designs, Chitalwala says that every facet is meticulously addressed in their pursuit of sustainability within the hospitality projects. “Conservation and sustainability perpetually hold paramount significance in our projects. Furthermore, for our architectural ventures, we are diligently striving to attain green certifications as a testament to our commitment to environmentally-conscious design,” he concludes.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'BW HOTELIER THE PEOPLE SPECIAL'


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