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Swanzal Kak Kapoor, SAKA Studio, Gurgaon
Swanzal Kak Kapoor is the design principal and co-founder at Saka Studio, based in Gurgaon. She has 20 years of experience of working in a diversity of contexts and scales and believes in an architecture of resonance and a culture of social responsibility. Her architectural and interior work celebrates cultural specificity, craft, embodied emotions, ecological consciousness and collaborative synergy. She has spoken at a variety of forums across the country and been a juror at SPA Bhopal and SSAA Gurgaon. Her interest in civic action and the environment led to her co-founding ‘iamgurgaon’ in 2009, a platform to enable change through community participation.
Do you think architecture has the power to build better communities? How?
Architecture and architects are more powerful than we can imagine. It is time we looked at architecture as a change agent. Every architectural act is embedded with values and allows for a new experience, especially when it is in the public realm. When we leverage this potential, we harness our ability to correct inequities, be more inclusive and exceed expectations. One recent example is Alejandro Arevana’s Elemental, a low-cost housing community in Chile that creatively allowed home-owners incremental growth by building half a home that was affordable. Being innovative and thinking out-of-the-box is the key to finding unexpected solutions.
Do you find the interactions at WADE ASIA fulfilling?
Each year at WADE, one encounters new talent, narratives and experiences. Meeting women from diverse disciplines is always a learning curve and a pleasure.
How important it is to network for professionals? Did WADE help you with this? How?
I think that connecting authentically with peers from across India and Asia as well as seniors in the profession allows a great opportunity for young professionals to learn from others’ experiences. It also leads to opportunities for collaboration and working together that can be a valuable experience for all. I first met Gita Balakrishnan at WADE and later went on to become an AYDA juror, which was a very rewarding experience personally.
“I think as a platform for women, WADE is unique in the special opportunities it is creating for women. As more women of all ages, experiences and disciplines participate, we have the opportunity to achieve great change.”
Women supporting women is essential. Share your opinion.
I believe every successful woman in design stands tall and is an example to others. I also feel that women bring a unique empathy, humility and people-centric approach to design that empowers all. In my own 20 year old practice, I have steadily supported women in the workplace through flexible timings, a crèche space for infants and a sensitive and supportive approach that I believe can help women continue careers through significant life changes like marriage and motherhood which somehow impact the trajectory of women’s careers more.
Any suggestion for the future:
As I mentioned last year: we need to extend this energy to specifically designed workshops that can be held throughout the year: financial management, skill-up gradation, crafts workshops, social initiatives.. so much is possible!
Note: This article was originally published on Surfaces Reporter December 2019 Issue.