Born and brought up in Shillong, Meghalaya, Alakesh is an architect based in Singapore and works for a consultancy firm called Surbana Jurong Consultants Pte Ltd. He studied in St Edmunds till Class X and considers Shillong his ‘favourite place in the world’, and misses the hustle and bustle of this small town. ‘It is compact and a complete city for me.’
He then moved to Guwahati where he completed Class XI and XII. The main reason for the shift was coaching classes to prepare for entrance exams that he was to face after Class XII. With support from his teachers at Army School, Narangi, and at FIITJEE Guwahati, he found a place at IIT, Kharagpur, where he studied architecture.
Not knowing at the time what a career in architecture would be like, Alakesh was more swayed by the opportunities and exposure a stint in IIT would offer. But when his course began, he started to enjoy it and was intrigued by the ‘combined attention it seeks from one’s faculties, both in terms of creativity and analytics’. He also enjoyed the process of creating. ‘I enjoy the sheer joy of creating things and the greatest satisfaction are the small moments of creative brilliance which transcend all material joys.’
Starting his career with an internship with gkkworks Corporation in California, Alakesh joined their India office in Pune. In 2013, he wanted to explore new avenues, and applied for a Master’s programme at the National University of Singapore. He did his post-graduation in integrated sustainable design. ‘It’s a subject close to my heart. Such graduate programs help to inculcate creative thinking for design solutions which go beyond the aesthetics. They instead look to repairing the ecosystem and creating a positive impact on the city. Two of my important projects, Floating Ponds and NUS SDE4 are excellent examples of such projects.’
The Floating Ponds (Singapore) project for Apollo Aquaculture Group is being designed as the world’s first vertical fish farm. ‘This innovative design allows the stacking of multiple tiers of fish raceways which allows exponential increase in food productivity over available land. The design also creates a self-sustaining ecosystem by integrating the three primary systems engaged in the farm: water, energy and nutrients.’
The NUS SDE4 is the new building for the School of Design and Environment at National University of Singapore (NUS). This six-storey building is designed to become a Net Zero Energy Building with several design innovations. He says, ‘It includes a new innovative air-conditioning system for thermal comfort, storm-water harvesting and treatment using bio-retention basins and many live test-bed features for the students and faculty to test their ideas on a live functioning building–all of which are seamlessly integrated into its architecture.’
Interested in pursuing similar projects in the future, Alakesh thinks they have a strong narrative which not only allow creation of novel architectural typologies but also seek to affect urban ecology. ‘I look forward to a balance between professional work and academic research.’
In addition to being an architect, he is also a tutor and a writer. ‘While I am working as a full-time architect, I am also tutoring part-time at NUS and writing from time to time for FuturArc (www.futurarc.com). It’s a magazine dedicated to the cause of sustainable design and focuses on projects in South and South-East Asia.’
The Floating Ponds (Singapore) project won the WAFX (World Architecture Festival-Xth Edition) prize in the water category.
The NUS SDE4 project is a short-listed finalist (Category – Educational Projects) for the World Architecture Festival 2017 which will be held in Berlin from November 15-17, 2017
Written by- Sanskrita Bharadwaj