07 June 2020

Interaction - Zubin Zainuddin, Principal Architect, ZZ Architects

Indian design is going through a paradigm shift

Ranked among the top 10 Architectural and Interior Design Firms in India, ZZA has executed marquee projects across the spectrum, which has won the firm several awards over the years. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, ZUBIN ZAINUDDIN, PRINCIPAL ARCHITECT, ZZ ARCHITECTS, contemplates on his design philosophy and discusses the emerging trends in Indian architecture. He is also the youngest Architect to have won the prestigious IIID award in the ‘Young Designer’ category, in 2003.



What is your Design philosophy, is it minimalist or maximalist?   

ZZ Architects has a distinct philosophy which finds its roots in design and its approach to creating and delivering something truly outstanding to each of its clients. Our multi award winning practice has built a reputation for interpreting client aspirations and briefs creatively. “It’s often the invisible nuances that make the visible difference,” this is a quote we had framed in our office since we started  and it is still close to our principle approach-“Every Detail Counts.”




Your favourite architectural style.

Contemporary architecture is something that we really connect with, inspirations can be from all relevant time, styles, and period, but our approach has always been to be true and relevant to the current scenario that we are practicing in. Technology and efficiencies of building construction are always being pushed in all the projects that we build.




To what extent has modern construction materials and technology like CAD, BIM, etc, widened the scope of architectural freedom in design?

Technology is primarily used to help ideate and also be more efficient. BIM has definitely caught on in most projects, especially to make all the relevant parties to coordinate in a more efficient manner.

Personally we have always enjoyed designing the traditional way; paper, good pencil and Copic markers can never be replaced. Bruce Mau’s take on technology sums up the predicament in the design world, he says, “The problem with software is that everyone has it.” 




With regards to usage of green and energy efficient buildings materials, to what extent are they used in your projects?  Please share names of such products you use.

It is necessary to be conscious of energy efficient design during the initial ideation of a project.  There is a need to be aware of products that are highly energy efficient and are therefore integral to the project success. Most of the innovations we personally keep a tab on are in lighting and in facade systems and fenestrations. It is key for projects to harness as much of natural light as possible, and the correct rating of the glass specified, and the typology of the system is key to make the project work as desired. Among some interesting new products, we have been using metal mesh sandwiched glasses for some facade systems and skylights, and are quite happy with the initial feedback that we are receiving. We are also studying various new processes of water and waste management for our larger scale projects and have realized that apart from the larger players, there are also a lot of smaller organizations making steady inroads with interesting solutions to make projects more sustainable and energy efficient.




How would you reflect the Zeitgeist of a particular community while designing a structure for them?

Architecture has been a contemplative field where one is always learning. As we work across a wide range of categories, we encounter with various subjective situations and clients. The final design always has to be process driven keeping in mind the aspirational requirements and needs of the end users.

An organised and methodical approach really helps to steer the project philosophy in the right direction and helps to take appropriate decision without making it impulsive.




How do you fuse Tradition and Modernity in your designs?

Design cannot be categorised, it is a result of the client’s needs and a response to the environment around us. There are no rules to follow. Being true to the time and the space to be designed is of pragmatic value. Attention to detail is something that is getting more relevant to the way we are looking at our projects.




Importance of Sustainability and a Green footprint in architectural designs. Especially in the context of landscaping.

As architects we need to be sensitive to the overall process, from design to execution. It is imperative to be aware of materials and solutions available to us from a local context to ensure the best can be delivered practically. It is also heartening to see a lot of materials and solutions being made available in the Indian design scene to make our designs more sensitive. We feel that landscape is integral to any project irrespective of scale. The interaction of spaces within in respect to the immediate surroundings ensures that the project develops as a holistic experience.




Your comments on evolving trends in architectural designs in Indian real estate sector.

Across the globe a large volume of both Residential and Commercial architecture in cities seems to be gravitating towards a Standard that is governed by the local bye laws. Encouragement of the governing bodies to create more meaningful architecture will definitely result in better exploration of ideologies for building typology. This is the state in all leading cities of the world, New York, London, Mumbai, all seem to be facing the same dilemma. Vertical towers also emphasize more on the form than the actual space within and this is a disturbing trend. A lot of emphasis has to be made on the way projects seem to be connecting with the environment.




Is it possible to design a Smart, Sustainable, home at Affordable price?

Any project that considers itself to be smart and sustainable will definitely be more efficient and clearly falls within the affordable paradigm. The fact that the various categories of projects exists ensures that the end user can choose what suits their purpose. Sustainability is a way of life and cannot merely be implemented in broken segments. It's an overall approach so we try to imbibe adaptable methods to all our designs. The way the lighting solutions, automation, solar power are handled in addition to other services play an important role in the interiors we do. Houses that we design today overall need less energy to function. Rain water harvesting, use of natural light and energy, introductions of green spaces in architectural projects are also implemented in our designs. As a reputed architectural and design firm we understand our moral responsibility towards the environment and have a conscious effort to do more with growing times.




Define the architectural opportunity in India’s Smart City Mission.

Smart city developments are very ambitious and personally the need of the hour. The current scenario seems a bit rushed and a clearer plan needs to be devised to take this ambitious and much needed scheme ahead. A new age architecture and a constantly evolving one. It's a time when the Indian design scene is going through a paradigm shift. There is a fusion of different styles and there is a reality between concept and execution. It's a competitive market with high deliverables. With the growing infrastructure development and the number of ongoing construction projects there is a lot of positive change one can expect from India. We wish the government considers involving design talent in development of various public spaces.




Please provide details with regards to an iconic structure designed by you, either ongoing or executed.

The studio is involved in a number of projects across the country.

There are a few exciting projects that will be completed in the comin

g year and are to be delivered soon. A couple of exciting projects that come to mind are;

  • The World in Surat, a large scale hospitality project housing around 400 service apartments and a range of leisure amenities. A highly technical structure within a unique glass facade structure, it is designed to be a landmark in the aspiring city.
  • A luxury boutique hotel in Pushkar, Rajasthan. This all suites project is a contemporary sculptural building that aspires to be one of the leading boutique hotels in the country.




ZZ Architects, has won prestigious awards and distinguished recognitions over the years.  Their 2016 trophies include the following:
  • Women Architecture Day Awards – Ar. Krupa Zubin “For excellence in the field of Architecture & Interior Design” by Surfaces Reporter magazine.
  • Architect & Interiors India HOT 100 – A selection of “Leading Contemporary Indian Architecture & Design Practices” by Architect & Interiors India
  • Key Stone Award – Ar. Krupa Zubin “For excellence in the field of Architecture,” presented by Asahi India Glass Ltd.

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