When it is an art, it enhances the beauty, strengthens it and creativity is at its best when two brilliant minds work together.
Oscar Concessao did schooling at the St Aloysius Institutions in Mangaluru, a western coastal town. He was inspired by the local Portuguese and Mangaluru tile architecture, interested in building miniature models, carpentry at the school workshops. After his pre-university exams, he got selected to the B. Arch degree programme at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli.
Ponni Concessao studied at Church Park Convent, Chennai and had a combined interest in art and engineering. She accompanied her father, a structural engineer in the Indian Railways, to his sites pan India and had a phenomenal exposure to buildings early in life. After her class 12 board exams, she got selected into the B.Arch degree programme at the prestigious National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirapalli and was the first women undergraduate student at NIT, Tiruchirapalli campus.
The journey of Oscar from Mangaluru and Ponni from Chennai converged at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli. That later became a successful husband and wife partnership firm specialising in urban design, architecture, and interior design, stressing green building norms and sustainable architectural design. It was not an easy journey. But when the two best brains on the subject storm, the outcome is brilliant.
That’s what happens in most of the projects that their firm takes up. The outcome is also creative and fascinating since Ponni spearheads projects right from inception, which involves absorbing the brief from the client, visiting sites that influence concept generation, and design presentation that leads to design development and ultimately monitors the building built under a specific timeframe. Oscar’s role is to explore new growth areas in new territories, penetrate new markets and globalisation, and serve new clients better by being more geographically diversified or offering more services in different sectors or building typologies.
“Architecture, nature and design have the power to transform the way we live and inspire us to see the world differently. It can make the world around us more exciting, our cities more liveable and sustainable, and our places of work more dynamic and interesting,” say architects Oscar and Ponni.
We spend most of our lives in buildings, and through architecture, you can influence the way people live their lives for the better. Both strongly believe in technologically allied design and combine it with elements of the Indian heritage, contextual architecture, culture, sustainability, and materiality.
According to Oscar and Ponni, “With the philosophy mentioned above, we draw inspiration from nature, my client’s brief, site conditions as well as contextual factors.”
Both are aware that to bring in new work while managing the routine of running a company requires a combination of talent, skill, team effort, a great business plan and smart organisation. Particularly in the moments that call for scaling up, it becomes apparent that architecture is an industry in which technical knowledge, management, and business understanding are as important as good design.
COVID-19, like many other industries and professionals, also changed the way the architecture and construction industry respond and emphasis on safety and wellness.
The duo has experienced project delays due to the pandemic, while site closures impacted at least 50%. There have been reduced cash flows as well as increased business costs and unrecoverable outlays. For practising architects, this has proven to be a tremendous challenge.
“The very ways in which we live, work, learn, and even play have transformed dramatically during the days of the crisis. In many ways, the changes are here to stay,” shares Oscar.
The duo has the best education and experience in the field of architecture. Specialised overseas education and international work experience set them apart even during the pandemic.
Ponni has a postgraduate degree on a research scholarship in Design at Cornell University and a specialisation in Advanced Design studies at Harvard University, USA. She got another fellowship from Yonkers Planning Department, New York, USA, and National Trust of Historic Preservation, Washington D.C., USA. Her experience working directly with architect Edward Larrabee Barnes in New York, USA, gave her an insight into international architecture.
Oscar has a Master’s in Architecture on a research scholarship in Urban Design at the University of Oklahoma at Norman and a specialisation in Advanced Design Studies at Harvard University. He is also a proud winner of the International van Allen Fellowship Design competition to design a university in Africa, which he won at a very young age of 23.
“That motivated me to be very competitive, and then I moved to New York City to work with marquee design firms and gained international experience on working on projects in different cities around the world,” says Oscar.
But for the husband-wife team, a philosophy that drives them is nation building. Their work includes the School for children of leprosy victims in Tamil Nadu for the Rising Star Outreach, an NGO. Architects Ponni and Oscar have been involved in social service projects for the past 30 years for national and international organisations that work towards women empowerment, leprosy eradication, noon meal centres and toilets for underprivileged girls and designing the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana project. One must be an educational engine to all who seek their services, as architects are agents of change and mirror social conscience.