sameep padora & associates is a mumbai-based architecture studio led by founding principal sameep padora. the team has grown with work within the fields of architecture, interiors and urban planning and this year, their ‘lattice house’ project was recognized in the wallpaper* design awards for best new private house. by placing a substantial emphasis on the formal tradition of various existing typologies, the studio conceives every project as an individual brief executed by a multidisciplinary team. their current ongoing projects span from residential to temples and ultimately, their aim is to push the embedded typologies in the context of contemporary culture in india.


designboom recently spoke with sameep padora, who discussed his design principles, influences and the developments in architecture in india.

architect sameep padora, founding principal
image © sP+a | main image © edmund sumner



designboom: what do you consider to be the most interesting and recent developments in architecture in india?


sameep padora: the india of the immediate post-independence era was marked by a frantic nation building energy, which in some sense was serviced by the singularity of the modernist project. since then however india’s variety ofsocio-cultural environments have shown the futility of singularity as a means of engaging with the country’s varying contexts. this in turn has enabled an understanding of the legitimacy of local models of urbanization that question the western models that comprise a conception of the urban.


given this understanding the exciting thing about practicing in india is that the specificity of the local is now be informed and heightened by global and regional networks which enable architects to address projects situated through the width of the country’s socio-economic and cultural contexts through methodologies of extreme subjectivity.

the lattice house / the façade is a response to the climatic severity of the north-western region
image © edmund sumner



designboom: what has been your most memorable/challenging project to date and why?


sameep padora: the challenge in most projects is to extend the brief beyond just it’s programmatic capacities, to situate it with relevance to a project type and/or the means of its processing despite the pressures of time and monies. the temples we worked on were obviously difficult because we were parsing through centuries of an image that defines this kind of religious edifice, it finally took a great deal of participation by the local community along with referencing the specificity of the context that enabled us to build these projects. one of the most gratifying moments from these projects was related to the shiv temple built in the rural hinterland of maharashtra. the temple’s priest took a copy of the architectural review, with the project on it’s cover to the local administrator and leveraged the coverage for a new road to the nearest village. so thanks to the ingenuity of the priest the temple played a role in the development of the surrounding region.

the temple was built through ‘shramdaan’ (self build) by the villagers
image © edmund sumner



‘one of the most gratifying moments from these projects was related to the shiv temple built in the rural hinterland of maharashtra. the temple’s priest took a copy of the architectural review, with the project on it’s cover to the local administrator and leveraged the coverage for a new road to the nearest village.’ – the architect comments on the shiv temple project (pictured above)

urban amphitheater, ahmedabad
image © sP+a



designboom: who and what has been the biggest influence on your work to date?


sameep padora: there are far too many to list, including teachers from school, the writings of mahtama gandhi and amartya sen’s development as freedom. the initial years of practice were defined by an interest in the works of the likes of carlo scarpa, frank israel amongst others, but a transformative moment for me was to experience a retrospective of richard serra’s torqued ellipses at the temporary contemporary in l.a. in 1999 while i was still a student at sci_arc. I was struck by how form and space seemed to coalesce into a dynamic singularity, a seamless articulation of material, form and rigorous process.

social khar restaurant in mumbai
image © sP+a



designboom: what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?


sameep padora: currently I am extremely interested in the writings of david harvey on the subterfuge of capitalism, richard sennett on notions of what he calls the open city and a. k. ramanujan on the specificity of what constitutes the indian context. among designers the i’m rediscovering the works of eladio dieste and sigurd lewerentz. a central interest of the studio currently is affordable housing. our studio’s recently instituted research wing spare has been researching this for a while and an exhibition titled ‘in the name of housing’ has just opened where we’ve documented the typological configurations of affordable housing in mumbai sutured deep within the city’s fabric and history. the argument is to present these types as an alternative to the apathetic apartment format of formal affordable housing being built in the city currently.  

carpet pavilion /carpet workmen collaborated with the studio to create modules out of unwanted carpets
image © raju shukla



designboom: what production techniques and materials have you enjoyed working with the most to realize your work?


sameep padora: in the inflated real estate market of mumbai, we as a young practice setting up had to in the initial years be content with largely interior retrofit commissions. looking at the city as a repository of latent resources we connected to production process and networks that were starting to fade as the city changed from a center of industrial production to a financial trading outpost, hoping in some way to appropriate techniques beyond their traditional use to allow them to evolve and persist. like in the case of the carpet pavilion where carpet workmen who were adept at stitching carpet seams collaborated with us to create modules out of waste carpet, stitched together in a catenary surface expressing the weight of the material.

fort house, hyderabad
image © edmund sumner



designboom: what processes or materials would you like to explore further in the future?


sameep padora: more recently we collaborated with hunnarshala an organization working with traditional building technology to evolve a loadbearing wall system of rammed stone dust for a project in rural maharashtra. the stone dust, which is waste from a basalt stone quarry near the project site, is combined with waste fly ash from a nearby molasses factory and a small percentage of cement as stabilizer to build these hybrid walls. these examples of material and process application also look to challenge the notions of the nostalgia involved with craft and tradition as well the nature of what today comprises the ‘regional’.