Shantanu Poredi, Manisha Agarwal - Евразийская Премия
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Shantanu Poredi, Manisha Agarwal

Founders of the Studio MO-of Architects/Mobile Offices

«We were attracted to the idea of discovering Russia»

Information about the architecture and design contest “Eurasian Prize 2018” reached different parts of the world. It reached the Indian architects. As a result, two of its representatives sent a number of their projects to the competition and won. They are the founders of the Studio MO-of Architects/Mobile Offices Shantanu Poredi and Manisha Agarwal. They arrived to receive prizes personally from the hands of the organizers in a festive atmosphere. Recall that the awarding of the winners of the “Eurasian Prize” was held in the days of the forum ARCH EURASIA 5-7 December in Yekaterinburg. The winners kindly answered the questions of our portal about the forum, their participation in it, the problems of modern cities and impressions of Yekaterinburg.

— Tell us about your impressions of the Eurasian Prize competition and the ARCH EURASIA forum. First, how did you know about this competition? Secondly, how do you estimate the level of these events?
— (Shantanu Poredi) We learned about the forum on the portal archdaily.com ahhh! We found the concept of the contest very interesting and decided to send our works. In addition, we were attracted to the idea of discovering Russia. After your country held the World Cup, a lot of information about your country has penetrated into the world. We can say that Russia has opened from an unexpected side: so many cities, so many different architecture, so many cultural features. Moreover, your city is located on the border of Europe and Asia, where there is a merger of two cultural layers.
— (Manisha Agarwal) In addition, we decided to take part, because the jury was international, in its ranks were reputable architects. For us it was important that specialists of such a high level evaluated our work. We are happy with the holding, so many people, so many contacts, and a lot of interesting information.

— Will you continue to take part in the competition?
— (Manisha Agarwal) Probably. And the competition has become attractive not only for us. When our architect friends found out that we had won the competition, they wanted to take part too.

— Let’s then talk about the problems of modern cities and architecture. In India, as in the Urals, the urban economy is closely linked to industry. But gradually plants and factories are either closed or transferred outside the city. The question arises how to optimally move from an industrial state to a post-industrial one. How do you see the solution to this problem from an architectural point of view?
— (Manisha Agarwal) We really have this situation in Bombay. For a long time it was cotton production, but then the authorities decided to move it outside the city. The question arose how to further develop the city than to fill the space that arose as a result of deindustrialization of the city. I can outline two solutions to this problem. The first is the construction of new housing, parks and gardens. The second is the construction of entertainment and shopping centers.  Moreover, this is not necessarily due to the demolition of buildings. Industrial buildings can be converted into hotels, bars, something else. For example, in our city in the former building of the textile factory is an advertising Agency.

— Any process of “rebirth” of the city faces a number of problems. What problems do you have in India, and how do you solve them?
— (Shantanu Poredi) the Fact is that our urban planners simply copy the approaches of American cities. Glass skyscrapers are being built there, and we are following this example. Moreover, look all the models and even construction materials are imported from USA. But all this is very poorly integrated into our urban landscape. I would even say that a few disfigures him.

— Why is it poorly integrated?
— (Manisha Agarwal) Because high-rises are built, but do not provide the space around them with the appropriate infrastructure, do not increase the public transportation, do not make Parking, the lack of energy resources for the maintenance of buildings affects. In addition, there are not enough green areas around such buildings.

— If these problems are obvious, and you point to them, why don’t your authorities listen to architects?
— (Shantanu Poredi) Architects try to point out these problems to the government, but money solves a lot. The main thing for developers is to sell more apartments, what will be the appearance of the city, what infrastructure problems will arise as a result of such urban development policy, they are not worried.
Manisha Agarwal: and these problems are pointed out not only by professionals, but also by society itself. There and here, there are groups of activists who call not to build up the city in this way. Sometimes they even manage to achieve something. However, it takes a long time for the authorities and builders to understand the fallacy of this path. Water wears away the stone.

— How to solve the problems of post-industrial cities?
— (Shantanu Poredi) We need to develop public transport. It was almost replaced by cars, and this is traffic jams, gas pollution, noise. Singapore and London can be called as a reference point. For example, in Singapore, an ordinary person can not buy a personal car, because it is unrealistically expensive. Most people use public transport. As for London, there are very high prices for Parking spaces. This encourages people to travel by public transport, and use private cars to go somewhere on the periphery of the city or outside the city.
In addition, the city is uncomfortable when people there just do their work when there are no places for normal rest and leisure. As a guide, I can name the Scandinavian countries. There people not only know how to work, but also to relax. You can always find space for spending quality leisure time.

— Could you name the standards of modern development cities?
– (Shantanu Poredi) I would first of all name Hong Kong because of its density. But it would be good to integrate Copenhagen’s urban environment and infrastructure. In my opinion, it would be an ideal city. That is, on the one hand, has a high density of buildings and the intensity of life, but it is very comfortable in its infrastructure. It is also important to point out the population density in the city. When it falls, cities slowly begin to degrade.

— Above you are critical of the high-rises. How do you assess this way of urban development in general? Do you need to build up cities with buildings of 20-30 and higher floors?
— (Manisha Agarwal) Building up is not a bad idea. But it is important that there should be some general concept in this method of development, and not just randomly growing buildings of 20-30 floors or even higher. It is also important to understand how the floors will be used in such buildings, what they are needed for.
— (Shantanu Poredi) I can say that we have submitted several projects to the Eurasian prize competition. Among them there were buildings of 12 floors. But three floor building won project. Judge for yourself how promising high-rise construction. The jury chose a low-rise building because it was more interesting and attractive. Therefore, from the point of view of comfortable housing it is not the number of floors.

— What can you say about Yekaterinburg, the city where the ARCH EURASIA forum and the awarding of the winners of the Eurasian Prize contest are held? Does it correspond to your ideas about the proper development of the city?
— (Shantanu Poredi) I saw that in your city the industry has already been moved outside the city. This is a good thing. I liked that there are footpaths in the city center. It seems to me that the city should be like this. Truth, I did not see people on bicycles. But perhaps this is due to the winter weather. However, cycling infrastructure is important for a modern city. In my opinion, your city should develop in the direction of pedestrian zones. Because first of all any city should be convenient for residents. I also liked the fact that the forest is close to the city. Harmonious development of cities in harmony with nature – today it is important.

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