Vinesh Pomal: Inside Diverse Architecture (Part Two)

“Architecture is ultimately the process of creating successful spaces to inhabit, reinforcing stable community”

Sunetra Senior Thursday 30th June 2022 02:33 EDT

Allocation of space has long since been a staple of strong architecture: Vimesh embraces this to professionally specialise in structural interconnectivity. “How does the space flow from one room into another? Indeed, how does that extend to the outside of the house and the way that it consequently sits within its surroundings? If, the street on which I'm building, for example, is broken down, I try to reinvigorate through the particular area I’m designing. Broadly, I enjoy clean, light architecture: lining features up cleanly and efficiently with pops of colour that can be added e.g., cupboards and various rooms. I will group and arrange spaces so that they’re functional as well as lending themselves to collective living. Caring and sharing is at the core of what I do: you need your own space but also to be able to co-progress.” In short, Vinesh champions the edification of empathy: “Architecture is ultimately the process of creating successful spaces to inhabit, reinforcing stable community”
The architectural activist also teaches in the first-year design studio at Leicester School of Architecture and has been a guest critic at Ulster, Central St. Martins, Loughborough, Sheffield and Reading Universities: “inspiring younger generations is another passion of mine. I love to welcome people into the industry, making accessible the trade, rather than alienating or normalising condescension. Unfortunately, the industry can be incredibly elitist so I strive to challenge and break that status-quo. I was the first child from my family to attend university, so I want others to have that equal opportunity too.” Finally, Vinesh does not simply advocate for his multifaceted profession, but also an open-minded society that is physically reflected in the world. This creates a vivid mutually affirmative, long-term happiness. “An exterior can look fantastic but that is not enough. You need a warm, practical and uplifting environment that you can truly call your home.”
Could you elaborate on the need for more diversity socially?
Within the community, we need to celebrate a plethora of Brit-Asian professions in addition to the traditional lauded path of doctor, lawyer or dentistry. Growing up, my family had a corner shop where I helped out learning important business and social skills. I studied Business Studies, Spanish and Product Design before going on to study architecture; all of which I have used in some shape or form during my career-to-date At that aspiring age, I did not feel any discrimination within the profession. It was only later when I’ve tried to progress up the ladder that I’ve encountered barriers. Here, much more must be done to counteract unconscious bias within the typically white middleclass industry. I have been told, “you’re too enthusiastic,” when being vocal for example as a reason for not being promoted. As a person of colour, it is challenging to speak out, but from a position of white privilege, you tend to be heard anytime with whatever it is you want to say. There is a general lack of people of colour in senior positions. You’d think your skillsets would be identified first, but this is not happening at higher levels. Diversity needs to be palpable e.g. I’m the minority at industry events and there’s a lack of role models from minority backgrounds. There should be more visibility for people of colour and for those from low socio-economic backgrounds where leaving this unaddressed should not be the status-quo.
Do you have a favourite design or feature from a certain era?
I have many favourite architects and buildings: one is the Hoover Building on the A40 built in the 1930s. I live around the corner from it and I’m inspired by the elegance of the Art Deco style. I live in Perivale and have grown up surrounded by 1930’s housing which is an interesting typology as it allowed for flexibility and adaptation, from rear, side and loft extensions to creating homes for multiple generations to live under. Television Centre in White City, formerly home of the BBC is another gem for me with its simple clean lines and creative adaptation into a mixed-use development. However, architecture isn’t just about buildings –. I am a fan of railway station architecture; the way they have regenerated St. Pancras International carries so much grace. The recently opened stations along the Elizabeth Line highlights the high-quality architecture our London infrastructure is capable off. For an architect, there’s so many exciting elements.
Do you think there is young architecture emerging and what constitutes this in your opinion?
Sustainability is at the heart. Eco-friendly, fit-for-purpose renovations are popping up across the city as an urgent response to rapid climate change. This means accommodating for several environmentally friendly precautions e.g., preservation of heat. There is a general raised awareness in designing homes that address future stability e.g., soon gas in new-builds will be banned. There’s also increased work on existing homes as opposed to simply demolishing and rebuilding which requires more materials and can be expensive. We are recycling whole buildings! There’s a huge campaign around retrofitting which is the official term for this. Another important concept is insulation: there needs to be smart insulation. The analogy for this is a big jacket – the bulkier the jacket, the warmer you are: if your building does not have enough insulation, you’d have to rely more on heating. There will be increasing changes such as this to regulations for new buildings. The Scandinavian model demonstrates this well: the buildings are arranged to capture sun naturally: down to the mindful minutiae. There’s not lots of glazing everywhere. How can you change your home? Placing shutters in front of your windows, which is common in many European countries, can prevent overheating whilst it on the outside, for example, to prevent it overheating. These devices can also introduce character.
Finally, what qualities does one need to be a strong, successful architect?
Professionalism and passion. Engage with your employer and be proactive in the industry in every shape and form. We want people who sincerely love to enhance another’s life. You should cultivate experiences early on. If you are drawn to a building or space, go and photograph or draw it: share your enthusiasm. You also need to be creative. Architecture combines many disciplines: history, business, geography, philosophy. It’s all-encompassing. Once you’re in, the end goal is the client being happy. This is what fulfils.
T: @vineshpomal

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