DFI (Design Forum International) one of the country's leading multidisciplinary architecture and design practices, led by architects Anand Sharma, Anoj Tevatia and Goonmeet Singh Chauhan, celebrates the successful completion of 25 glorious years in the AEC industry.
A report by SURFACES REPORTER
'The Journey So far' and 'Way ahead'
DFI was started off in 1995 immediately after their convocation in IIT- Kharagpur by Anand Sharma, Anoj Tevatia and Goonmeet Singh Chauhan. The firm has designed some of the iconic landmarks in the city including the famed Select City Walk Mall. Initially called Tevatia Chauhan & Sharma Architects, the practice was rechristened as Design Forum International (DFI) in 2003 with a clear intention of fostering an egalitarian organizational ethos where distinctive architectural talent finds self-expression and can contribute to a democratic and collaborative work environment.
The Dakshineswar Sky Walk in West Bengal
On the occasion of the practice's silver anniversary, the Founders and Principal Architects at DFI- Anand Sharma, Anoj Tevatia and Goonmeet Singh Chauhan, walk down the memory lane, "It feels like yesterday when we were seated in our college canteen at IIT Kharagpur, back in the nineties, and contemplating our lives. Our engineering friends were sitting for placements while we were left wondering what to do as there were no placements for architecture students in those days. It was there that we decided to start a venture of our own. Thus, DFI was born."
NIT, New Delhi
"These last twenty-five years have been very unexpected yet highly eventful. In this long and momentous journey, there have been several moments of excitement as well as many unpredictable challenges. Each time a seemingly unforeseen difficulty appeared before us, we successfully rose to the occasion, always coming back stronger.
The most important thing was that we loved what we were doing, and we genuinely loved each other’s company. We truly believed that by sticking together and creating this institution, we would make a difference. About three to four years into our practice, a client came in and said, “Oh! You guys are established architects!” It was then that we realised the kind of impact that we were already starting to have.
In the beginning, we could deliver around 30 homes at a time. Gradually, we created a very robust internal system mapping the lifecycle of a project and creating incentive mechanisms to make the whole process more efficient. After that, within a short span, we delivered a hundred homes at a time; it was like a well-oiled engine delivering architectural systems.
Over the years, there have been some meaningful directional shifts in our architectural journey. These have resulted from the unanticipated challenges we faced along the way, largely beyond our control. Initially, we were designing single-family homes. As our clients became bigger, we eventually moved on to large-scale real estate architecture based in Delhi-NCR.
Amritsar Railway Station
Then, as the real estate situation in Delhi-NCR took a hit, we started taking up buildings in Bengaluru, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, where the industry was still robust. However, from 2013 to 2018, the country’s real estate industry faced a severely lean period. This was when DFI chose to diversify and collaborate with the government on public sector buildings.
Our engagement with the government has increased subsequently since, with more than two-thirds of our entire revenue now coming in from public sector projects. Today, we feel grateful for those testing times that enabled us to course-correct and to enter previously uncharted territory; we became more resilient than we had ever been and kick-started our voyage towards Nation Building.
New Courts Complex project for the Delhi High Court
In the near future, we are looking to expand into other realms of infrastructure. DFI has already taken the first steps towards the designing and construction of roads. Urban mobility, urban infrastructure and transport infrastructure are other domains we want to engage ourselves in further."
Select City Walk Mall, New Delhi
At DFI, we continue to emphasise the need to make human-centric designs while simultaneously ensuring that our efforts are rooted in the principles of sustainable architecture and respond to the local context. We look forward to many more years of #NationBuilding while keeping #PeopleFirst," they further added, "
Check Out: "MY OPINION ABOUT ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION TODAY" - AR. GOONMEET SINGH CHAUHAN, PARTNER, DFI | I TALK
Within the first 5 years of being instated, the practice grew into a team of more than 20 people, completing over 500 residence designs. Currently, the firm has over 11 Million sq. ft. of Mixed use and Retail; 60 Million sq. ft. of Group Housing; 3000 Acres of Masterplan and 8.5 Million sq. ft. of Office and IT Parks in its portfolio.
DFI's notable government projects include- Vanijya Bhawan, ITO FOB Skywalk, NIT New Delhi, and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archeology. The firm has also undertaken the New Courts Complex project for the Delhi High Court. By strategically conceptualising the building to enable capacity upgradation in alignment with the contextual reverence, the firm's design for the New Courts Complex has seamlessly harmonised the contemporary with the historical.
Some of the Notable Projects by Design Forum International:
The New Court Complex Marries Gracefully With the Rectilinear Character of The Old High Court Building in Delhi | Design Forum International
This 380-Meter Long Pedestrian Skywalk Improves The Dakshineswar Kali Temple Traffic in Kolkata | Design Forum International
Guwahati Airport To Be Integrated With Alluring New Terminal Building
Ar Goonmeet Singh Chauhan, Design Forum International | Architect of the Week | SURFACES REPORTER
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