Architect Tony Joseph was recently selected to be in the top 50 of the most influential architects in the Indian sub-continent. He talks about his career
Architect Tony Joseph is dressed in a laid-back manner: a loose black shirt, black jeans and shoes. But the award he received at the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, on March 31, was anything but laid-back. Tony received a prize for being among the top 50 most influential architects and designers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“We wanted to retain the colonial fabric of the area,” says Tony. “However, we did not want a project that was all about restoration. We wanted to use the materials of today, like steel and glass.”
The Xandari Harbour is one of the numerous projects that Stapati has done. The others include the still-famous Kumarakom Lake Resort, Rainforest At Athirapally, Vythiri Resort, Wayanad, Brunton Boatyard at Fort Kochi, the Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles, and many others. Thus far, the firm has executed more than 200 projects in India, the UAE, and the Seychelles.
And he has some ardent fans. Says leading international architect Christopher C. Benninger, “Stapati's creations are spiritual precincts, not mere locations or destinations. They are catalysts for self-discovery, not canned products like a 'five-star hotel'. Each design derives itself from its natural context. Each retreat is inspired by its organic setting, from which it emerges from the earth.”
The popular Vythiri resort also seems to have emerged from the earth. “Since it was a forest setting, we used the local mud, earth blocks, wooden roofs and tiles,” says Tony. “In all my projects, we try to have as much of the area as non air-conditioned. In Vythiri, there is no air-conditioning at all.”
Stapati was set up in 1989, and today, there are offices in Kochi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Kozhikode. A few years ago, Tony made a change in his business model. He opted to have partners and associates. “If the firm gets larger, it is difficult to give individual attention to clients,” says Tony. “But if you give ownership to others, we can retain that. That is why I opted for partnerships.”
Finally, regarding global trends in architecture, Tony says, “There is an urgent need for sustainable and environment-friendly architecture. The resources of the planet are finite. If you destroy the environment, nothing will be left.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)